The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (TV movie with Jeff Goldblum - 1979)

Jeff Goldblum as Ichabod sounds like a very good idea - but, well, it isn't. The visual look of the whole thing is very bland, having Ichabod end up with Katrina just doesn't work, the other variations from the original are a bit corny, etc. Some variation from the text is necessary in order to make a 20 page story into a feature-length movie, but there's a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it. This one takes a lot of wrong turns.

This version is fondly remembered today, but mostly by people who haven't seen it in a while. It has its moments, but, overall, it's best watched for nostalgia. Then again, they DO get fairly creative in their deviations from the text (which all versions need to do to stretch the story out); it's the first version that I know of to portray Ichabod as skeptical of all the superstitions, which is something of a variation from the text, and was done a lot better by Tim Burton a couple of decades later. I WILL give props for including a scene in which Ichabod claims that, given the way the world spins, we're upside-down half the time without even knowing it, which is in the original text but rarely makes the movie versions.

As for the horseman itself, they go the more-or-less standard route of having someone dress up like the horseman, but there's ALSO a real horseman running around. Not a bad way to go, I guess. But the main benefit of this is that, if you're watching severla versions in a row, the differences in this version make it sort of refreshing. Like the Burton version, it concerns itself more with being a decent movie than following the book (which a purist like me might argue with, but which is, in all honesty, a fair enough choice to make when adapting a story that isn't really long enough to fill a 90 minute time frame.

Made for TV in the late 70s, aired on Disney (natch) and released on video in the 80s, this is a pretty hard-to-find version nowadays, though you can pick up a video on ebay fairly cheaply - and it's worth doing so just for the the awesome cover. Frame it and put it on your wall.

Now on youtube in one file!


Unknown said...

I rather liked this version. Sure, it's cheesy, deviates from the original plot but I thought it captured an interesting atmosphere; I think that the music lends its hand the most at times. Gotta love John Sylvester White as Vanderhoof though, he kind of saves the film.

C-Man said...



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