Today is the seventieth anniversary of the premiere of The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. The film was the eleventh film from Walt Disney Animation Studios while it was the sixth and final package film, meaning a collection of shorts put together as one theatrical release. The first part adapts the 1908 novel The Wind in the Willows and follows J. Thaddeus Toad, Esq. as he becomes obsessed with the newly developed motor car and sells his fabulous estate to a group of criminals in exchange for a stolen vehicle. The second part adapts the 1820 short story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and follows outsider teacher Ichabod Crane as he tries to integrate himself into the society of Sleepy Hollow, falls in love with the daughter of a wealthy man, forms a rivalry with local strongman Brom Bones, and crosses path with the supernatural Headless Hessian.
Production of the two segments began shortly after Disney's first film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. However, the outbreak of World War II sapped much of the talent and resources from the studio forcing numerous projects to be scaled back. Several works intended as full-length features were shortened, packaged together, and sold as one single film. Work began before the United States' entry into the war but not completed until afterwards. In fact, it was rumored that one animator was working on a scene, left to fight in the war, and returned to pick up exactly where he left off.
The film was successful with fans and critics. It grossed $1.6 million worldwide and allowed the studio to return to full-length features once again. Both enjoyed numerous appearances on television, often as separate entries. The Wind and the Willows segment inspired a ride at Disneyland and Magic Kingdom, with Corey Burton providing all the voices. Meanwhile, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow has become a staple of Disney's Halloween-themed events. It is one of the most faithful adaptions of Washington Irving's novel and is hailed as one of the darkest moments in Disney's history. The segment also had a major impact with the modern perception of the story being heavily influenced by the changes, most notably the flaming pumpkin used by the Horseman.
Clyde Geronimi served as one of the three directors of the film.