Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Jungle Book Celebrates its 40th Anniversary!

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.


cuatrecess said...

I just LOVE this movie! I guess I saw it in re-release if today marks the 40th anniversary! It's beating my own future 40th birthday by a year and 6 days!

I have Shere Khan and Mowgli & Baloo. They're great.

Thanks for the info Don!!!!

Hey Don, if this is your 3rd favorite, what are your first 2?

;0) Cheryl

Michael J. Ruocco said...

Happy 40th annivesary to a spectacular film! Many happy returns, Jungle Book!

I've been wanting to add that sculpture to my collection since it was released. So far, I have no Jungle Book pieces whatsoever, so adding this would be a great addition. Kaa is probably my favorite character from that film.

Duckman said...

You're welcome Cheryl!

Given one of my favorite Disney films, have done everything released thus far except Mowgli ("Silly Grin") and the Jungle Step Base. I worked the Village Girl into the scene released in 1997. She works very well with them. Everything released thus far has been awesome!

My top two favorite Disney movies are Dumbo and Peter Pan.

Pinocchio and Sleeping Beauty round out my Top 5.

Duckman said...

Hi Michael! If you were going to have one sculpt as a representation from this film, Kaa & Mowgli would be the one!

The execution done by Dusty Horner in this one is phenomenal! Not only are Kaa & Mowgli 'spot on' but the Tree in how it is painted is very true to form of the animation done in that film.

Kushal Ruia said...

i agree! this is the best Jungle Book piece ever! One of the more satisfying WDCC release!
Also one of my favs in the Villains series!
Am SO thankful that they did not mess this concept up by breaking it up in multiple pieces and stuff.
Like this years Villian's release,though Ursula is to die for,would have loved Ursula's vanity to be a part of the main sculpture too.just makes it seem more cohesive,grand and less interactive/toylike.:-)

Jorge said...

I agree that the Kaa and Mowgli is the best piece yet from Jungle Book. It is elaborate and complex and captures the moment from the film perfectly.