Movie Name: The Jungle Book
Studio: Walt Disney Productions
Release Date(s): October 18, 1967
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Mowgli (voiced by Bruce Reitherman) has grown up in the jungles of India after the death of his parents at the hand of tiger Shere Khan (voiced by George Sanders). Raised by wolves, Mowgli is now spreading his wings. Under the watchful eye of Baloo the Bear (voiced by Phil Harris) and Bagheera the Panther (voiced by Sebastian Cabot), Mowgli learns that Shere Khan has returned to the jungle. While Bagheera tries to encourage Mowgli to return to humans, Baloo encourages him to live a carefree life in the wild. Being human in the jungle makes Mowgli a target of other animals who are jealous of him…if Kaa the python (voiced by Sterling Holloway) or King Louie the orangutan (voiced by Louis Prima) don’t get Mowgli killed, Shere Khan might be his death.
Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, The Jungle Book is the nineteenth film in Walt Disney Animated Classic series following The Sword in the Stone in 1963. It was the last film produced by Walt Disney who died in 1966 before its release. It was based on the stories by collection of stories by the same name published by Rudyard Kipling in 1894. The movie was wildly popular and “The Bare Necessities” was nominated for Best Song losing to “Talk to the Animals” from Doctor Dolittle.
The movie is just out-and-out fun. It is very segmented since it is based on short stories, but Disney does a great job crafting it into a nice story. The story keeps flowing, and it will definitely keep kids entertained with all the animals and songs that propel the story.
I am not a huge fan of the style of art in The Jungle Book. The backgrounds are lush and the animation in the forefront is obviously independent of it. If Mowgli is going to interact with a stick, the stick just doesn’t mix with the background. It is a style that Disney used from One-Hundred-and-One Dalmations to The Great Mouse Detective and it just doesn’t compare to the art of some of their earlier films (plus, they even reuse animation within the movie and in later films).
What does sell The Jungle Book is that it is full of great character actors and singers providing the voices for the film. Reitherman (who was the son of the director) is nice as Mowgli and also was used by Disney again for the voice of Christopher Robin in Winnie-the-Pooh. Sebastian Cabot and Phil Harris do a great job balancing out Bagheera and Baloo as the voice of reason and the voice of fun, while Louis Prima is great fun with as King Louis with his “I Want to Be Like You” which easily rivals “The Bare Necessities” as one of Disney’s best songs. Sanders plays a great Shere Khan and Disney mainstay Stirling Holloway continues to show his perfect cartoon voice as Kaa. Other notable voices include Clint Howard as Colonel Hathi’s son Junior, J. Pat O’Malley and Colonel Hathi and Verna Felton (in her last role) as Hathi’s wife.
The Jungle Book is one of Disney’s most fun films. It had a sequel in 2003, and Disney also used the story again for a live action film in 1994. Many of The Jungle Book‘s characters became the stars of Disney’s Tale Spin cartoon and a sequel The Jungle Book 2 was released in 2003. Disney followed The Jungle Book with The Aristocats in 1970.