Movie Review

The Jungle Book

The Jungle is JUMPIN'!
The Jungle Book Movie Poster

US Release Date: 10-18-1967

Directed by: Wolfgang Reitherman


  • Phil Harris
  • Baloo
  • Sebastian Cabot
  • Bagheera
  • Louis Prima
  • King Louie
  • George Sanders
  • Shere Khan
  • Sterling Holloway
  • Kaa
  • Bruce Reitherman
  • Mowgli
  • Verna Felton
  • Winifred
  • Clint Howard
  • Junior
  • J. Pat O'Malley
  • Colonel Hathi
  • Ben Wright
  • Rama
  • John Abbott
  • Akela
Reviewed on: October 10th, 2007
The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book

Although it bears very little resemblance to Rudyard Kipling's famous stories The Jungle Book, as imagined by Walt Disney and his animators, is one of the most joyous and entertaining feature-length cartoons ever made. What makes it work is the great characters, the wonderful cast of voices assembled to speak for them, and the catchy songs they sing.

This was the last animated movie that Walt Disney himself worked on before his death. It was his decision to forgo the plots of the Kipling stories in favor of character development. There really isn't a plot at all. Just the idea that the animals of the jungle reject Mowgli and insist that he return to the man village. Bagheera the black panther leads Mowgli there and along the way they encounter other characters and have short adventures.

Baloo the bear, who in Kipling's version is a wise teacher of wolf cubs, is here shown as a lazy drifter. His theme song "Bare Necessities" is the most famous tune from the movie. He is superbly enacted by gravelly voiced Phil Harris. Shere Kahn, the man-eating tiger and the movies' villain, is voiced by the ultra-civilized George Sanders, best known to movie audiences as the venomous tongued Addison DeWitt in All About Eve. Sterling Holloway, the voice for Winnie the Pooh, does a great job as Kaa the 30-foot rock python. His song "Trust In Me" is delightful.

The best scene and song in the movie for me is performed by legendary Jazz singer Louis Prima. He plays King Louie the leader of the monkeys and he sings the swinging "I Wan'na Be Like You (The Monkey Song)". As a kid I always thought that he was supposed to be imitating Louis Armstrong. I recently discovered that Louis Prima was a renowned jazz singer in his own right and though he was definitely influenced by Armstrong he wasn't merely doing an impression.

The Jungle Book is one of the most lighthearted of the animated Disney features. It does squeeze in a bit of heart in the relationship between Mowgli and Baloo, but essentially this one is a breezy comedy-adventure. The recently released 40th anniversary edition has been restored and it looks pristine, proving that Uncle Walt went out on a high note.

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