Thursday, October 07, 2010
31 Days of Halloween - Day 7 - Movie 2
Filmed near the actual location of the story, The Headless Horseman (1922) is an adaptation of Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow starring Will Rogers in the role of Ichabod Crane. Rogers comes off as more charming than clueless and unlikeable making him more sympathetic than Brom Bones (Ben Hendricks, Jr.) who plays one prank on Ichabod that goes too far, endangering his life. The rivalry between them over Katrina Van Tassel (Lois Meredith) takes much of the focus of this adapation and is handled well. Another running plot involves the innkeeper's wife's hatred of Ichabod. Her desire to see him thrown out of town grows into accusations of witchcraft and associating with devils being made against the school master.
The scenes with the headless horseman are the weakest parts of this movie, which may be due to the murkiness of the print available through Alpha Video more than anything. When first introduced as a spectral character, the headless horseman is depicted as transparent with a skeletal arm. Unfortunately the background overcomes the image of the ghost and his mount so that they are hard to see. The fact that the horseman has trouble mounting his horse (it takes two tries) diminishes his menace immediately. During the climactic chase between the headless horseman and Ichabod Crane its hard to see the headless horseman at all, as his dark form constantly blends into the dark surroundings.
Unlike most adaptations that came after the Disney cartoon, this movie does not set the story during Halloween, nor does it transform the pumpkin the headless horseman carries into a jack o'lantern. This movie also makes it quite clear as to whether or not the headless horseman is a supernatural being, or Brom Bones playing a prank.
The movie is pretty mediocre overall. I only recommend it if you're curious to see another adaptation of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, otherwise stick with the Disney adaptation.