Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Wind in the Willows, The

Various movies have been based on The Wind in the Willows (1908) by Kenneth Grahame.

1. The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad (vt as two separate items The Wind in the Willows and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow) US movie (1949). Disney. Pr Ben Sharpsteen. Dir James Algar, Clyde Geronimi, Jack Kinney. Special processes Ub Iwerks. Based on Grahame's book and Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" (1819-1820). Voice actors Claude Allister (Rat), Eric Blore (J. Thaddeus Toad), Colin Campbell (Mole), Campbell Grant (Angus MacBadger), Alec Harford (Winkie), J Pat O'Malley (Cyril Proudbottom), plus Bing Crosby (narrator of Ichabod section) and Basil Rathbone (narrator of Toad section). 68 mins. Colour.

The TWITW section of this movie is a vigorous but necessarily sketchy adaptation. MacBadger, Toad's financial advisor, calls in Rat and Mole to ask help in curtailing Toad's expensively destructive mania for gypsy-style caravanning. The next they know Toad is in court for car theft, and is jailed on false charges. Disguised as Toad's grandmother, Toad's horse Cyril brings the prisoner a washerwoman costume, using which Toad escapes and steals a train (> Gender Disguise); the police pursue in a second train (providing an animated homage to the Keystone Cops, but in English uniform). The Weasels take over Toad Hall, but are cast out by the heroic quartet. This is not classic Disney work, but it is possibly the best movie version of the tale so far. [JG]

2. The Wind in the Willows UK stop-motion Animated Movie (1983 tvm). Cosgrove-Hall/Thames TV. Pr Brian Cosgrove, Mark Hall. Exec pr John Hambley. Dir Hall. Screenplay Rosemary Anne Sisson. Voice actors Ian Carmichael (Water Rat), Michael Hordern (Badger), David Jason (Toad), Richard Pearson (Mole), Beryl Reid (Judge). 78 mins. Colour.

A faithful adaptation, if anything bolstering the original's reactionary viewpoint (with the Weasels voiced as sniggering working-class oiks) and its antifantasy (with the imaginative being reduced to cosy, plodding domesticity). In this lethargic version, all is done with ponderous tastefulness: even the menacing of Mole in the Wild Wood is blandly unfrightening. The animation is technically good and the models and sets are meticulously made, but all is somehow bloodless. [JG]

3. The Wind in the Willows Japanese/US Animated Movie (1983 tvm). Dir Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr (1924-2014). Voice actors Eddie Bracken, José Ferrer, Paul Frees, Roddy McDowall, Charles Nelson Reilly (movie lacks proper credits). 97 mins. Colour.

A dutiful version, with some nice moments of animation among the rest. [JG]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.