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  • Writer's pictureEllen Cheshire

Disney's The Jungle Book (1967)

Updated: May 5, 2023

Based on Rudyard Kipling’s stories about Mowgli, the man cub. The Jungle Book was the last full length feature film to be produced under the eagle-eye of Walt Disney - and what finer tribute can there have been for a man who delighted in entertaining children of all ages.

The Jungle Book is an affectionate and laid-back film with no real narrative drive: Mowgli, the man cub, is raised by wolves and befriended by the cuddly bear Baloo, who together enjoy some amazing jungle adventures.

The narrative may be loose but the characterisation is so strong that they carry the film along at a leisurely pace as Mowgli (Bruce Reitherman - the son of the film’s director) and Baloo the Bear (Phil Harris) make their way to the Man Village. Along the way, there are a number of elaborate set pieces and great songs as they meet Bagheera the Panther (Sebastian Cabot), King Louie of the Apes (Louis Prima), Shere Khan the Tiger (George Sanders) and Kaa the Snake (Sterling Holloway). There are some great visual and aural gags such as the quartet of Vultures complete with Beatles haircuts and Liverpuddlian accents.

The film’s lack of structure and reliance on the actors rather than the animation may be seen as a disappointing end to Disney’s career, but the film is boosted not only by great performances from the central characters but also by one of the wittiest and catchiest collection of numbers in one Disney film including Trust in Me, Bare Necessities and I Wanna Be Like You. Songs you just can’t help but hum.

The Jungle Book (1967)

Producer: Walt Disney

Director: Wolfgang Reitherman

Based on the "Mowgli" stories in The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling.

Composer: George Bruns

Cast: Phil Harris (Baloo the Bear), Sebastian Cabot (Bagheera the Panther), Louis Prima (King Louie of the Apes), George Sanders (Shere Khan the Tiger), Sterling Holloway (Kaa the Snake), J. Pat O'Malley (Col. Hathi the Elephant), Bruce Reitherman (Mowgli the Man Cub)


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