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The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad/Fun and Fancy Free Blu-ray Review

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#1 of 28 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted August 03 2014 - 01:44 PM

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The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad/Fun and Fancy Free Blu-ray Review

The years directly after World War II were tough ones for Walt Disney’s studio. While still churning out a regular series of animated shorts, the studio needed another blockbuster animated feature hit to pay debts racked up during the war years when the studio was commissioned for the war effort. A series of compilation films along with the animation/live action hit Song of the South kept the doors open until Cinderella could put the studio back on secure ground. Among those compilations were Fun and Fancy Free (1947) and The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949). While neither film has ever commanded the same amount of attention as Disney’s animated feature classics, there are memorable sequences in both of them and quite a bit of pleasure to be found with each revisit.


Cover Art


Studio: Disney

Distributed By: N/A

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Audio: English 2.0 DD, English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Rating: G

Run Time: 1 Hr. 8 Min./1 Hr. 13 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD

keep case in a slipcover

Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: ABC

Release Date: 08/12/2014

MSRP: $36.99




The Production Rating: 4/5

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad contains Disney-tainted variations on two genuine classics of literature: the Toad of Toad Hall sequences of The Wind in the Willows and Washington Irving’s masterful short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” In the former sequence (narrated in clipped, sometimes formal but occasionally sly fashion by Basil Rathbone), the self-indulgent J. Thaddeus Toad (Eric Blore) must be saved from his own foolish caprices (which include losing his beautiful mansion Toad Hall to a gang of rascally weasels) by his accountant Angus MacBadger (Campbell Grant) and his friends the serious and stern Rat (Claude Allister) and the sweetly simple Mole (Colin Campbell). In the film’s latter (and better) half, Bing Crosby in his inimitable hip (for the 1940s) fashion narrates in dialogue and song one of the most famous love triangles in American literature between the gold digging schoolmaster Ichabod Crane, the boisterous, burly Brom Bones, and the wily, flirtatious Katrina Van Tassel.

The animation in both sequences is masterful, among the most evocative and detailed that can be found in any of Disney’s more famous classic films, and both sequences end in frantic chases: our heroes with a vital piece of evidence trying to escape from the villains chasing them in Toad Hall in the first and in the second the unforgettably tense and suspenseful dash to safety by a frantic Ichabod Crane being chased through the countryside by the notorious ghost rider the Headless Horseman. The latter story also boasts a wonderful trio of songs by Don Raye and Gene De Paul crooned by the Old Groaner with backup singing by the swinging Rhythmaires which characterizes three of the story’s most interesting personas: Ichabod, Katrina, and the Horseman. Those songs and its otherwise uncommon fidelity to the original story (much of the narration is lifted straight from Washington Irving) make the second half of The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad truly a must-see adventure though Mr. Toad has lived on in the hearts and minds of many a baby boomer who visited one of Disney’s theme parks and enjoyed Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

Fun and Fancy Free also contains two cartoon shorts running a little over a half hour each along with some linking material with a pair of hosts. Jiminy Cricket (Cliff Edwards) starts things off with a discarded song from Pinocchio “I’m a Happy-Go-Lucky Fellow” before stumbling across Dinah Shore’s recording of the story of Bongo, a bear who’s the star attraction at the circus but who longs for the freedom of the great outdoors. When he makes his escape, he finds the wild somewhat less accommodating than he imagined, but that is all forgotten when he finds true love though the road to it has its own bumpy circumstances. Afterwards, Jiminy stumbles on a party being given by Edgar Bergen and his pals Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd for Luana Patten. For entertainment, Edgar relates the familiar story of “Jack and the Beanstalk” only this time with a trio of farmers – Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy – facing off against the bumbling giant and attempting to wrest from the giant their community’s singing harp stolen by him and make their escape.

The film seems crowded and slightly off-kilter with one narrator too many. Owing to the great radio popularity at the time of Edgar Bergen, it’s not surprising that he would be one of the film’s hosts, but the movie’s use of Jiminy Cricket first and then almost forgetting about him when Bergen and company take over seems a bit ill-conceived. Each of the two stories has charm and terrific animation (Donald’s throes of agony as he faces starvation are always good for a laugh), but how wise they weren’t each developed into feature films as was the original intention because neither story is truly strong enough to stand on its own. Dinah Shore warbles three tunes in the Bongo segment in her trademark velvety smooth style: “Lazy Countryside,” “Too Good to Be True,” and “Say It With a Slap” while the second segment features “Happy Day” and “My Favorite Dream” (with lovely Anita Gordon vocals) and “Fee Fi Fo Fum” for the giant, all fitting songs for the moment but not carrying much weight away from their respective stories.


Ichabod Crane


Video Rating: 4/5  3D Rating: NA

The films are both presented with a 1.33:1 aspect ratio and in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. Ichabod and Mr. Toad looks very nice but with a few anomalies present. There is the occasional dust speck here and there and a bit of contouring present along with the slightest bit of flicker, but the image is a major step up from the last DVD release which was loaded with dust specks and even reel change markers very evident. But the images are sharp, and the color is fine and in control throughout. Contrast has been evenly maintained through the feature, and there is no banding to be seen. The lines in the animation all are solid and secure, and if there has been any DNR applied, it’s been done judiciously. Fun and Fancy Free has bolder color overall than Ichabod and Mr. Toad and has a cleaner, slightly sharper appearance. The lines in the animation are solid and artifact free, and again any DNR work has been accomplished without robbing the images of detail, and the live action segments appear very sharp and natural. The films have each been divided into 24 chapters.



Audio Rating: 4/5

The disc offers two English language choices for Ichabod and Mr. Toad and Fun and Fancy Free: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. The lossy Dolby track actually has dialogue that’s more direct and forward in the mix and sound effects and music that give a greater sense of richness and fullness perhaps owing to a slight increase in volume but also to a more dynamic mix. The dialogue track for the lossless mix in each film is somewhat less effective, and the effects and music only barely make their presences known in the rear channels. I preferred the lossy mixes with each of these films.



Special Features Rating: 3/5

The Reluctant Dragon (1:13:36, HD): Disney’s 1941 behind-the-scenes feature film with comedian/raconteur Robert Benchley sneaking around the studio lot and watching voice recordings, music sessions, art classes, animators at work, the Multiplane camera in use, Foley being dubbed, and getting a sneak peak at three shorts: “Baby Weems,” “How to Ride a Horse,” and “The Reluctant Dragon” gets a spit-and-polish remastering that is worth the price of the disc. It may be the only bonus feature present on this Blu-ray disc, but the beautifully sharp and artifact-free picture in 1080p (AVC codec; Dolby Digital 1.0 audio) with crisp black and white and gorgeous Technicolor photography is something to see. Though some of the lot’s actual employees get featured (Clarence Nash, Florence Gill, Ward Kimball, and Walt Disney, of course), there are also surprising appearances in small parts playing studio employees by Alan Ladd, Frank Faylen, John Dehner, Frances Gifford, Jeff Corey, and Gerald Mohr.

DVDs: Each film gets a separate DVD enclosed in the case. Ichabod and Mr. Toad contains as a bonus feature “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” Storybook. Fun and Fancy Free contains “The Story Behind Fun and Fancy Free” and “Mickey and the Beanstalk” Storybook.

Promo Trailers (HD): Disneynature: Bears, Sleeping Beauty, Legend of the Neverbeast.



Overall Rating: 4/5

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad is one of Disney’s more neglected classics and deserves rediscovery. Fun and Fancy Free is exactly that: a little lark of a movie that’s entertaining but not especially memorable. Both are served well in high definition, and they’re joined by another studio treasure The Reluctant Dragon as a bonus item. Why the bonuses on the enclosed DVDs weren’t also placed on the Blu-ray disc is rather a mystery, but at least they’re part of the package. Recommended!


Reviewed By: Matt Hough


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#2 of 28 OFFLINE   Mark-P

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Posted August 03 2014 - 02:00 PM

So all three movies are on a single Blu-ray? That would explain why the DVD content wasn't carried over - no more space. But no worries since the DVDs are included as well!

 

But what is weird to me is that Disney even bothered authoring two separate Blu-rays - one with Fun and Fancy Free (and The Reluctant Dragon) and one without. Why not just skip all the extra cost of authoring the leaner version?

 

This sounds like a terrific package and I look forward to receiving my copy.



#3 of 28 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted August 03 2014 - 06:34 PM

So all three movies are on a single Blu-ray? That would explain why the DVD content wasn't carried over - no more space. But no worries since the DVDs are included as well!

 

 

 

I think there would still be plenty of space for these few standard definition extras not carried over. Remember that the three features were each only a little bit (8 to 13 minutes) over an hour long. Blu-rays can hold far more than that.



#4 of 28 OFFLINE   JoelA

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Posted August 04 2014 - 07:30 AM

Great review Matt! I may have overlooked it in your review, but has there been any editing done to these 1940's films to make them 2014 pc?



#5 of 28 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted August 04 2014 - 07:32 AM

If there was any, it blew right past me.



#6 of 28 OFFLINE   JoelA

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Posted August 04 2014 - 07:39 AM

If there was any, it blew right past me.

 

Ok. Thanks.



#7 of 28 OFFLINE   warnerbro

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Posted August 04 2014 - 08:40 AM

Wow!  This sounds like a great buy!  The Reluctant Dragon is a surprise!  I had no idea that was included! 


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#8 of 28 OFFLINE   DanH1972

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Posted August 05 2014 - 10:00 PM

Are all three films uncut and uncensored? 



#9 of 28 OFFLINE   Brandon Conway

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Posted August 07 2014 - 05:21 AM

But what is weird to me is that Disney even bothered authoring two separate Blu-rays - one with Fun and Fancy Free (and The Reluctant Dragon) and one without. Why not just skip all the extra cost of authoring the leaner version?

 

I imagine Disney feels that the Ichabod/Toad standalone is easier to market to the mainstream crowd than the multi-film package, especially since a lot of people watch Ichabod for Halloween.


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#10 of 28 OFFLINE   Stephen_J_H

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Posted August 07 2014 - 09:00 AM

I was on the fence initially, but I will probably pick this one up. I'm a huge fan of The Reluctant Dragon and own the Treasures tin.


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#11 of 28 OFFLINE   Randy Korstick

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Posted August 07 2014 - 10:29 AM

The previous DVD releases for all 3 of these were uncut so I would image the Blu-Rays are as well. These are not the films that were previously edited. Those are Fantasia, Melody Time and Saludos Amigos.

 

Are all three films uncut and uncensored? 


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#12 of 28 OFFLINE   DanH1972

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Posted August 07 2014 - 11:10 AM

The previous DVD releases for all 3 of these were uncut so I would image the Blu-Rays are as well. These are not the films that were previously edited. Those are Fantasia, Melody Time and Saludos Amigos.

 

That's good to know because who the frack understands what goes on in the minds of the marketing departments at some of these mega corporations anymore.  They could have found something un-PC about Katrina's ample cleavage, or one of the animals smoking a pipe in Mr. Toad, or some other strange thing and worked their Disney digital "magic" on these releases, so some child doesn't have a hemorrhage for having been subjected to such awful sights.  :D


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#13 of 28 OFFLINE   Mark-P

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Posted August 11 2014 - 03:28 PM

Just received my copy from Disney Movie Club. A couple of things to make note of.

Both Ichabod and Mr. Toad and The Reluctant Dragon have windowboxed opening credits. Fun and Fancy Free, however does not. I know for some people that will be a demerit or two.

Secondly the 5.1 soundtrack on Ichabod is in reality 4.1 (encoded as 5.1) with identical mono surround channels. Nobody in the world but me would even notice this.  :)

I am very pleased with the picture quality of all three movies, and yes the animation is a bit scrubbed clean, as is the norm for Disney's animated classics.



#14 of 28 ONLINE   ABaglivi

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Posted August 12 2014 - 07:38 AM

Just picked one up at the local BestBuy for 22.99.



#15 of 28 OFFLINE   Jason_V

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Posted August 12 2014 - 08:22 AM

Why $22.99? BB.com says $17.99 and that's what I ordered at with them this morning. Are you sure $22.99 wasn't the sticker price and you got charged $17.99?



#16 of 28 OFFLINE   JoHud

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Posted August 12 2014 - 08:28 AM

I am very pleased with the picture quality of all three movies, and yes the animation is a bit scrubbed clean, as is the norm for Disney's animated classics.

 

I didn't notice any "scrubbing."  Examples?  I actually though this one had less tampering than the norm.  They even left in some of the scratch lines on the animation cels during the Mr. Toad segment.



#17 of 28 OFFLINE   Randy Korstick

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Posted August 12 2014 - 09:00 AM

I just checked and Best Buy has 2 different versions:

1.) Icabod and Mr. Toad only for $17.99

2.) Icabod and Mr. Toad/Fun and Fancy Free and The Reluctant Dragon (Bonus) $22.99.

 

For all 3 movies for $5.00 more it seems like a no brainer.

 

Why $22.99? BB.com says $17.99 and that's what I ordered at with them this morning. Are you sure $22.99 wasn't the sticker price and you got charged $17.99?


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#18 of 28 OFFLINE   Jason_V

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Posted August 12 2014 - 09:08 AM

Annnnnnnnnd I ordered the wrong one this morning. Thanks Randy...I feel like an idiot now.  :D



#19 of 28 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

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Posted August 12 2014 - 09:12 AM

Just "now?!?"

 

 

:biggrin:


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#20 of 28 OFFLINE   Jason_V

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Posted August 12 2014 - 09:13 AM

Oh man Mike!  :P   I clearly should not be ordering stuff the minute I get to work in the morning...

 

Or I at least need a proofreader...


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