Disney has just released a great Blu-ray, bringing together three films originally released in the '40s, and each a compendium in its own right.
While I saw Ichabod in it's original release as a child, I don't recall ever seeing any of these films in high quality. Last time I saw Ichabod was an ancient Technicolor 16mm print with a cyan track, and soft resolution.
The short story here, is that each of these films is breathtakingly beautiful, as represented on this Blu-ray disc.
The earliest, known as The Reluctant Dragon, is actually so much more. It's a 74 minute film, following the great humorist Robert Benchley, on a veritable tour of the Disney studio, inclusive of great views of not only how normal animated films were created, but with wonderful footage of the huge multi-plane camera.
The Reluctant Dragon will become a very special film for any cinephile.
This is a film with a surprise inside, and is beautifully crafted from original elements.
The second offering is Fun and Fancy Free, another omnibus film, released in 1947, inclusive of Mickey and the Beanstalk and Bongo, about a performing bear.
My favorite of the bunch is The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, yet another pairing of two tales, The Wind in the Willows (1908), by Kenneth Grahame (who also penned The Reluctant Dragon in 1898) and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1820) by Washington Irving.
There is some question as to precisely what was the first film that I saw in a theatre -- Ichabod and Mr. Toad, or a re-issue of Bambi.
This was the last in a series of anthology programs created by the Disney studio, the others being Saludos Amigos (1942), The Three Caballeros (1944), Make Mine Music (1946), Fun and Fancy Free (1947) and Melody Time (1948). Hopefully, the others will be coming on Blu-ray in due time.
All three of these film are magnificently presented, albeit with a bit less grain in some areas than one might have originally seen in theaters. Colors are beautifully rendered, although I cannot speak to original accuracy -- above my pay grade.
If one visits the Amazon site, where the disc is currently offered at $34, the details are a bit muddled. While they correctly note that there are three discs (one BD and two DVDs), the running time seems short for the price point.
The 68 minutes noted represents Ichabod, while the other two come in at 70 and 74, yielding a total package of 212 minutes. To my mind, a bargain, and a great release from Disney.
Image - 4.5
Audio - 5
Very Highly Recommended.