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The Wind in the Willows

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The Wind in the Willows is the first segment of The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, narrated by Basil Rathbone. The other half of the animated feature was based on the unrelated short story, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow".

Plot

The segment was based on Kenneth Grahame 's novel of the same name (narrated by Basil Rathbone). The protagonist Mr. J. Thaddeus Toad is introduced as an "incurable adventurer" who "never counted the cost". Although he is the wealthy proprietor of the Toad Hall estate, Toad's adventures and "positive mania for fads" have brought him to the brink of bankruptcy. As a last resort, Toad's friend Angus MacBadger volunteers as Toad's bookkeeper to help Toad keep his estate which is a source of pride in the community.

One day, MacBadger asks Toad's friends Ratty (a water rat) and Moley (a mole) to persuade Toad to give up his latest mania of recklessly driving about the countryside in a horse and gypsy cart, which could accumulate a great deal of financial liability in damaged property. Ratty and Moley confront Toad, but cannot change his mind. Toad then sees a motor car for the first time and becomes entranced by the new machine, having been taken over by "motor-mania."

To cure Toad's new mania, Ratty and Moley put Toad under house arrest. However, Toad escapes and is later arrested and charged with car theft. At his trial, Toad represents himself and calls his horse Cyril Proudbottom as his first witness. Cyril testifies that the car which Toad was accused of stealing was the very same one that had already been stolen by a gang of weasels. Toad had entered a tavern where the car was parked and offered to buy the car from the weasels. However, since Toad had no money, he instead offered to trade Toad Hall for the car. Toad then calls the bartender Mr. Winkie as a witness to the agreement; however, when told by Toad to tell the court what actually happened, Winkie falsely testifies that Toad had tried to sell him the stolen car. Toad is found guilty on the spot and sentenced to twenty years in the Tower of London. Toad's friends make every effort to appeal his case, but with no success.

That Christmas Eve, Cyril visits Toad in disguise as his grandmother and helps him escape by giving him a disguise of his own. Meanwhile, MacBadger discovers that Winkie is the leader of the weasel gang, and that they have indeed taken over Toad Hall; Winkie himself is in possession of the deed. Knowing that the deed bearing Toad and Winkie's signature would prove Toad's innocence, the four friends sneak into Toad Hall and take the document after a grueling chase around the estate.

The film then ends with Toad regaining his house while it implied Winkie and his minions have been arrested and imprisoned. As MacBadger, Ratty and Moley celebrate the New Year with a toast to Toad, who they believe has completely reformed, Toad and Cyril recklessly fly past on a Wright Flyer; Toad has not truly reformed and developed a mania for airplanes.

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