FILM 1432: THE JUNGLE BOOK
TRIVIA: Walt Disney died during production of this film. Many people wondered at what the studio's fate would be, particularly the animation division. The film performed extremely well at the box office, ensuring that the animators would not be put out of work. Had the film failed, it is likely that animation would have been closed down at the Disney studio.
The 19th animated feature in Disney animated features canon, and the last to be personally supervised by Walt Disney, himself. The first Disney film to be released after his death in 1966, just prior to the film's theatrical release.
The Vultures were originally going to be voiced by The Beatles. The band's manager, Brian Epstein, approached the Disney studios about having The Beatles appear in the film, and Disney had his animators create the Vultures specifically to be voiced by the band. But when Epstein took the idea to the Beatles, John Lennon vetoed the idea, and told Epstein to tell Disney he should hire Elvis Presley instead. The look of The Vultures, with their mop-top haircuts and Liverpool voices, are a homage to The Beatles; one bird's voice and features are clearly based on George Harrison's. When the Beatles departed the project, the song was rewritten as a barbershop quartet, to make it timeless.
Bruce Reitherman - who provides the voice of Mowgli - is now a wildlife documentarian.
Winifred is the only female animal to have any dialogue throughout the entire film; although Raksha (the Mother Wolf) briefly appears at the beginning, she never actually speaks.
Just after Mowgli runs away and Bagheera is trying to convince Col. Hathi to look for him, Hathi's wife Winifred announces if they don't help find him, she will take command of the herd. Hathi is outraged at the thought of a female leading. The joke is that elephants herds are led by a matriarch (female), while adult males generally live alone. As the only apparent female in the herd, Winifred should be leading by default.
According to Elsie Kipling Baimbridge, Rudyard Kipling's daughter, "Mowgli" is pronounced "MAU-glee" (first syllable rhymes with cow), not "MOH-glee" (first syllable rhymes with go). She reportedly never forgave Walt Disney for the gaffe.
Kaa the snake is a completely different character in the film than he is in the original book. In the book, he is a friend and adviser of Mowgli, and the one who rescues him from the monkeys. In the film, he is a villain bent on eating Mowgli. Walt Disney felt that the audience would not accept the idea of a snake as anything but a villain. This is makes Kaa the first and only Character voiced by Sterling Holloway to be a Villain (not counting The Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland (1951) who was an anti-hero).
Disappointed by the muted reception to The Sword in the Stone (1963), Walt Disney was determined to come back with a universally well-regarded film. He told his animation crew to "throw away" Rudyard Kipling's book "The Jungle Book" because the original concept storyboards were too dark and dramatic. During pre-production, Disney assigned animator Larry Clemmons to head story development on the project. He gave Clemmons a copy of "The Jungle Book" and told him, "The first thing I want you to do is not read it."
Many cultural scholars (including Anthony Edward Schiappa, Susan Miller, and Greg Rode) have singled out the King Louie character as a particularly offensive racial stereotype for appearing to be "African American", especially given the political and civil rights climates in America during the time this film was released. However, he spoke in Louis Prima's normal voice (and, like most of the characters, had a physical resemblance to his voice actor), Prima being a white man of Italian descent.
Rudyard Kipling's Hindi names for the animals are related to their species. Baloo: bear, Bagheera: panther, and Hathi: elephant. Shere Khan means Tiger King.
Shere Khan was modeled after George Sanders who provides his voice. According to the DVD commentary, most of the characters' appearances were based on their actors, but his is the most noticeable.
For the film's backgrounds, Disney Animators visited real jungles in India and studied wildlife there.
Ken Anderson storyboarded the final scene almost at the same time that Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman had finished "My Own Home". Everything that the Sherman brothers had envisioned while writing the song was up on the storyboards. They brought Anderson up to their office and played him the song and he immediately began to cry.
According to Richard M. Sherman on the audio commentary, George Sanders (the voice actor for Shere Khan) refused to sing for "That's What Friends Are For". Bill Lee did the singing for Shere Khan, replacing Sanders.
Came seventh in the UK's Ultimate Film, in which films were placed in order of how many seats they sold at cinemas
Voted number 19 in Channel 4's (UK) "Greatest Family Films"
This is the first Disney Animated Feature where the opening credits say who voiced which role.
King Louie calls Mowgli "cousin." This is technically accurate as both humans and apes are primates.
Wolfgang Reitherman: [Re-using animation] There are multiple moments in the film which feature animation recycled from 101 Dalmatians (1961), The Sword in the Stone (1963), The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949), Song of the South (1946) and Goliath II (1960).