The Disney Project - Melody Time and The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

Next up in The Disney Project (see here for details and past movies) is 1948's Melody Time and 1949's The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.

First up, Melody Time.
Melody Time is another Disney film comprised of a number of shorts, and not a full-length feature film.

"Once Upon a Wintertime" - tells the story of two young lovers in winter; all set to music (no dialogue). We see the couple go through an array of winter activities (mimicked by an adorable little rabbit couple). The young man starts showing off on the ice, irritates the young girl, she storms off unaware of a thin ice warning, and a harrowing rescue follows. It's very cute, and the animation style is a favorite of mine. I remember watching this short a ton as a kid.

"Bumble Boogie" - a fast paced bumble bee adventure set to a jazz version of the classic Flight of the Bumble Bee by Rimsky-Korsakov. It's a favorite song of mine, and a fun little cartoon.

"The Legend of Johnny Appleseed" - Another favorite of mine from childhood, the American folk-tale about the American pioneer, John Chapman aka Johnny Appleseed. A classic tale, and a classic Disney short.

"Little Toot" - A fun little tale about a little tugboat who can't seem to stay out of trouble. Very cute.

"Trees" - The retelling of the poem "Trees" by Joyce Kilmer over scenes of the changing of the seasons. This is definitely the weakest segment of the film. It's not too long though, so the momentum of the film is only disrupted for a moment.

"Blame It on the Samba" - Donald Duck and Jose (the parrot from Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros) are introduced to the Samba by the Aracuan Bird (also from The Three Caballeros). Not these guys again! I seriously don't understand what the draw of these characters was back then. I wasn't a fan, but at least it was upbeat.

"Pecos Bill" - The final short is the retelling of Pecos Bill, his loyal horse Widowmaker, and the woman who comes between them, Slue-Foot Sue. It starts off live-action with famous cowboys Roy Rogers telling the story to Disney child stars Bobby Driscoll and Luana Patten (remember from here, here, and here). Then it moves to the animated story, and it is such a great little short. Disney actually edited all scenes of Pecos Bill smoking from the current release. It's a shame, but I don't think it detracts too much. It's still one of my favorite Disney shorts of all time. I just love when Slue-Foot Sue's bustle gets the best of her.

All in all, Melody Time, is a great film comprised of some of the best Disney shorts available.

Moving on to The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.
This film is made up of two stories, the first is based on characters from the book, The Wind in the Willows, and tells the story of J. Thaddeus Toad aka Mr. Toad. His latest mania is riding around recklessly on his horse and cart with little attention paid to all the damage he's doing. The bills for destruction of property are adding up, and Toad Hall is on the brink of bankruptcy. His friends, MacBadger, Ratty, and Moley try to help, but things only get worse when Mr. Toad decides he now wants a motor car! Will they be able to save Mr. Toad from himself before it's too late?!

Exciting stuff, right? It's a cute enough cartoon, but I think the story is a little hard to follow. Madeleine thought Mr. Toad was silly, but I think the whole plot line involving deeds and ownership of property probably made no sense to her. She seemed to enjoy it though. I thought it was only okay.

The real winner of this film is the second segment, a re-telling of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." The tall and lanky, Ichabod Crane, moves to Sleep Hollow to become the local schoolmaster. He is soon winning the hearts of all the women in town to the dismay of all, including local stud, Brom Bones. When even the wealthy and beautiful, Katrina van Tassel seems to prefer Ichabod to him, Brom decides to use Ichabod's superstitious nature to his advantage. He recounts the story of the Headless Horseman at the big Halloween party. It spooks Ichabod, and he becomes quite paranoid on his ride home from the party. Along the way he encounters the Horseman and a mad chase scene ensues. Will Ichabod escape from the Horseman's clutches and win the heart of Katrina, or will the Headless Horseman (if he even is that) prevail?!

I loved this segment. I always have, and always will. It's such a fun little cartoon. What I didn't know until I watched it again now, was that it is narrated by Bing Crosby! He narrates and sings all the songs in it. Now I think I like it even more. It's funny, innocent, exciting, and a little spooky. Like I mentioned here, it's a really great Halloween story for kids and one I'll be happy to watch each October.

And with that I'm officially 15 movies into my Disney Project. Woohoo! I'm officially done with all the movies from the 30's and 40's. Bring on the 1950's!

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