The Jungle Book has always been one of my favorite Disney films, not only because of a great story, great characters and great music but possibly because the only Disney animated film I saw in original release when a young boy.
Earlier this week I blogged on Walt Disney’s The Jungle Book: 2-Disc Platinum Edition DVD which was released on October 2nd plus the all-new bonus features including a new member of The Jungle Book family, Rocky, a near-sighted and short tempered, but hilarious rhinoceros.
Today marks the official 40th Anniversary of the film's release. The Jungle Book was released on October 18, 1967. It was the last animated feature produced by Walt Disney, who died during its production. It was based, rather loosely, on the stories about the feral child Mowgli from the book The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. The movie remains one of Disney's most popular, and contained a number of classic songs, including "Bare Necessities" and "I Wanna Be Like You." Most of the songs are by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman. The film was directed by Wolfgang Reitherman and Mowgli was voiced by his son, Bruce Reitherman. The cast also included Phil Harris (Baloo), Sebastian Cabot (Bagheera), Louis Prima (King Louie), George Sanders (Shere Khan), Sterling Holloway (Kaa), J. Pat O'Malley (Colonel Hathi), Clint Howard (Junior), Verna Felton (Winifred) and Darlene Car (Village Girl).
The Walt Disney Classics Collection has released the following over the years in honor of this films release:
- In 1997, in honor of the films 30th Anniversary, the first sculptures were released which included Mowgli ("Mancub"), Baloo ("Hula Baloo"), Bagheera ("Mowgli's Protector), King Louie ("King of the Swingers") and Flunky Monkey ("Monkeying Around") plus an Opening Title. All were an Open Edition release except for the Flunky Monkey (Limited to Production Year 1997). All were retired September 1999 except for the Opening Title. A special gold script message '30th Anniversary' was added to the backstamp of sculptures crafted in 1997. Entire scene sculpted by Kent Melton.
- King Louie's Temple (Limited to Production Year 1997), released under Enchanted Places was also released in 1997 and sculpted by Patrick Romandy-Simmons.
- Shere Khan ("Everyone Runs From Shere Khan"), the 1998 Spring Sculpture Event was available from 02/27/98 to 03/29/98. A hand-numbered sculpture, sculpted by Kent Melton, did not receive the special '30th Anniversary' Backstamp.
- Mowgli & Baloo ("Jungle Harmony"), the 2002 WDCS Animators Choice release, was available 01/01/02 to 03/31/03 with Society Redemption Certificate. This memorable scene was selected by legendary animator Ollie Johnston, who was honored with this beautiful sculpture of one of his favorite film moments. This sculpture, sculpted by Dusty Horner, was the final in the series which had been a Society favorite since the Walt Disney Collectors Society introduced the series in 1992.
- 2003 saw the release of Junior ("Hup 2-3-4"), a Walt Disney Collectors Society member-only figurine release and Mowgli ("Silly Grin") and the Village Girl ("Coy Smile"), Open Edition Releases. In 2005, a Jungle Base ("Jungle Step Base") was released to complete the scene and pull the two pieces together.
- Most recent release is Kaa & Mowgli (pictured above). "Trust in Me" was the 2006 Villains Series release (available from 05/15/06-10/31/07) sculpted by Dusty Horner. It is the 10th release in the Villains Series and my favorite from that series as well as what has been released from the film thus far.
To view each of the above releases, visit The Jungle Book Secondary Guide section of the website.
- Kaa's design was later used for Sir Hiss in Disney's adaptation of Robin Hood. Certain animation elements of The Jungle Book were also reused in Robin Hood; in particular, the animation of Lady Kluck and Little John dancing during the song "The Phony King of England" which mirrors that of, respectively, King Louie and Baloo dancing to "I Wanna Be Like You." The character design for Little John was based on Baloo (though the brown-furred Little John more closely resembles a grizzly bear than Baloo's mix of Sloth Bear and grizzly), and both characters were voiced by Phil Harris.
- The animators drew Shere Khan to resemble his voice actor, George Sanders.
- According to the Special Features on the Platinum Edition DVD, many former and current Disney animators consider The Jungle Book to be the epitome of Disney character animation.