With a cast of colorful characters, and a soundtrack so memorable it adhesed to the subconscious like glue, The Jungle Book is not only a timeless classic in the illustrious history of beloved films by Walt Disney, it is also one of the last films that he would oversee. Released in 1967, Disney’s Midas touch is evidenced throughout this rather loose adaptation of the “Mowgli” stories, written by author Rudyard Kipling.
When a young Indian boy named Mowgli is orphaned due to a shipwreck, he soon wanders into the surrounding jungle. A friendly panther named Bagheera protects the boy and delivers him to a pack of wild wolves that adopt and raise him. Once Mowgli reaches young adulthood, it is decided that he would be better off with his own kind. Mowgli has other ideas, however, and ventures deeper into the jungle where he encounters a herd of militaristic pachyderms and a trance-inducing snake. He soon befriends a friendly bear named Baloo but their friendship is interrupted thanks to an orangutan named King Louie, who kidnaps the boy in hopes of learning the secret of fire. Will Mowgli’s friends be able to rescue him in time before he becomes dinner to the man-eating tiger, Shere Khan?
Featuring an all-star cast of voices from the likes of Sebastian Cabot, Phil Harris, George Sanders and Louis Prima, The Jungle Book also featured a fantastic soundtrack, thanks to the prolific Disney songwriting team of Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman, who have lent their talents to numerous Disney films such as Mary Poppins and, for better or worse, penned one of the most memorable Disney tunes of all time, “It’s a Small World.” They pulled out all the stops for The Jungle Book, creating such timeless tunes as “I Wanna Be Like You” and “Trust In Me.” Another notable tune from the movie was “The Bear Necessities,” a catchy little ditty written by Terry Gilkyson.
With such a wonderful collection of endearing songs, colorful characters, and well-known voices, not to mention a level of animation that could only come from Walt Disney, it was of little surprise that The Jungle Book became an instant classic, a film that continues to entertain to this day. And although Rudyard might not recognize the story as one of his own, it seems likely that he would have approved anyway.
Do you have fond memories of watching The Jungle Book? We’d love to hear them in our comments section, as we tip our hats to another timeless Walt Disney film.