Saturday, May 24, 2014

I Don't Know, I've Never Kipled

The Jungle Book (1967) is another one of those movies I saw when it came out (age 11) and never again. At the time, my main concern was that it departed so radically from the Kipling stories that I was in love with. I was conflicted - it was a really good movie, but it wasn't true to the Text. I believe this was my first confrontation with the question of whether you should watch the movie before or after you've read the book - or never.

It wasn't until much later - maybe even this century - that I began to realize what I had seen:
  • Baloo voiced by Phil Harris, a band leader in the 40s who I know mainly from his work on Jack Benny's radio show. He was married to Alice Faye, bu that's neither here nor there.
  • Bagheera was smoothly voiced by Sebastian Cabot, Mr. French, the butler from Family Affair, a TV show that I was fond of at the time. I can't remember if I put that together.
  • Kaa the snake was played by Sterling Holloway. It's a shame that you can't see his rubber face in the animation.
  • Best of all, Louis Prima is Ape King Louie of the Bandarlog. Prima is the king of jump blues and his number here, "I Want to Be Like You" really swings.
The role of the mop-topped cockney buzzards was offered to the Beatles, who contemptuously turned it down. But one of them is voiced by Chad Stuart of the British Invasion band Chad and Jeremy.

The animation is top rate Disney, which honestly looks a little tired now because of its polish and the amount of exposure it has gotten. But once you get sucked in, you don't notice much.

In conclusion, a great return to the movie that made me a cineaste.

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