Movie Review: The Jungle Book (1967)

Title: The Jungle Book
Release Date: October 18, 1967
Director: Wolfgang Reitherman
Production Company: Walt Disney Productions

The Jungle Book is a musical comedy based on the works of Rudyard Kipling, and is the last animated movie which involved Walt Disney in its production.  It’s a straightforward story of a boy raised by wolves named Mowgli (Bruce Reitherman), who the wolves council determine must now return to the human village for his own safety.

The movie is episodic, linking together various musical numbers and set pieces with animals that Mowgli encounters on his journey.  The supporting characters make the film.  These include Mowgli’s allies, Bagheera (Sebastian Cabot), a serious panther who oversees Mowgli’s exit from the jungle and Baloo (Phil Harris), a carefree sloth bear who wishes to adopt Mowgli to Bagheera’s strong disapproval.  The villains include a hypnotic python named Kaa (Sterling Holloway), a scatting orangutan named King Louie (Louis Prima) who wants the secret of fire, and Shere Khan (George Sanders), a Bengal tiger who hates humans and is determined to kill Mowgli.

The movie features some great music by the Sherman Brothers, with the exception of the most famous song, “The Bare Necessities,” which is by Terry Gilkyson.  The animation captures the movement of animals in a convincing way as well as providing a number of comic gags.  I’ve always thought that movie ends oddly with Mowgli deciding to go to the human village basically because he’s horny.  Nevertheless, this is a competent, straightforward Disney comedy musical.  Not quite an all-time classic, but a does the job for 78 minutes of entertainment.

Rating: ***1/2