The Jungle Book

The Film

The Jungle Book was inspired by the stories about the feral child Mowgli written by Rudyard Kipling. The stories were first published in magazines in 1893–94, and subsequently, with others, as a collection, entitled The Jungle Book, in 1894.

Released on 18th October 1967, the film was the 19th animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series. The movie contains a number of classic songs, including The Bare Necessities and I Wan'na Be Like You. Most of the songs were written by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman.

Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, The Jungle Book was the last to be produced by Walt Disney, who died during its production. Through its original release, and two further cinema releases, the film became Disney's highest grossing cartoon, and is undoubtedly one of the greatest animated films of all time, appealing to children and adults alike.

About the Film

Mowgli is found as a baby in a basket in the deep jungles of Madhya Pradesh, India. Bagheera the black panther, who discovers the boy, promptly takes him to an Indian Wolf who has just had cubs. She raises Mowgli along with her own cubs.

Later, when the wolf tribe learns that Shere Khan, a man-eating Bengal tiger, has returned to the jungle, they realise that Mowgli must be taken to the 'man village' to protect him and those around him. Bagheera volunteers to escort him back.

During the journey, Mowgli meets up with a whole host of jungle residents, some friendly, some not so: characters such as Baloo, the fun-loving bear; Kaa, a hungry Indian Python; Hathi, leading the elephant dawn patrol; King Louie, the orangutan; the Vultures, who curiously resemble the Beatles; and Shere Khan himself.

At the end of the story, Bagheera and Baloo take Mowgli to the edge of the man village. Mowgli is hesitant to go in, but his mind soon changes when he is smitten by a beautiful young girl from the village who is coming down by the riverside to fetch water. After noticing Mowgli, she 'accidentally' drops her water pot. Mowgli retrieves it for her and follows her into the man village, in love.

Apart from the charming story and the magnificant animation, the film features a number of classic songs, including The Bare Necessities, I Wan'na Be Like You, Trust in Me and Colonel Hathi's March.

Background to the Film

Disappointed by the reception of The Sword in the Stone, Walt Disney was determined to give the opportunity for his animators to do their best work. He assigned Larry Clemons as one of the four story men for the film. Giving him a copy of Kipling's book, Disney told him: "The first thing I want you to do is not to read it."

Disney counted on the characters to drive the story. Many familiar voices inspired the animators in their creation of the characters and helped them shape their personalities. This use of familiar voices for key characters was a rarity in Disney's past films.

Disney took an active role in the story meetings, acting out each role and helping to create jokes. It was the last animated film from the company to have his personal touches.

The vultures bearing a physical and vocal resemblance to The Beatles was a result of the band nearly singing songs for the movie and voicing the vultures themselves. Manager Brian Epstein, who died from an accidental drug overdose less than two months before the film's release, had approached Disney about having the band appearing in the movie without asking the band first. Once Epstein informed John Lennon about it, he immediately vetoed it and told Epstein to "tell Disney to look for Elvis Presley instead". Nevertheless, the vultures still appeared like the band, including the signature mop-top haircut. Ironically, the Beatles had started to phase out the haircuts around this time, with Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band having been released that June and signifying the band's departure from that hairstyle.


• Bruce Reitherman as Mowgli, an orphaned boy, commonly referred to as "man-cub" by the other characters.

• Phil Harris as Baloo, a sloth bear who leads a carefree life and believes in letting the good things in life come by themselves.

• Sebastian Cabot as Bagheera, a serious black panther (melanistic leopard) who is determined to take Mowgli back to the village and disapproves of Baloo's carefree approach to life.

• Louis Prima as King Louie, an ape who wants to be a human, and offers to let Mowgli stay in the jungle, by bribing him with bananas, if Mowgli shows him the secret of "Man's Red Flower" (fire).

• George Sanders as Shere Khan the bengal tiger who wants to kill Mowgli. For this reason the Wolf Council votes to send Mowgli away. Sanders also provided singing for his character in cameo appearance.

• Sterling Holloway as Kaa the Indian python. Kaa is determined to catch and eat Mowgli before Shere Khan does.

• J. Pat O'Malley as Colonel Hathi the Indian elephant/Buzzie the Vulture

• Verna Felton as Winifred, Colonel Hathi's wife. It was Felton's last film role: she died one day before the death of Walt Disney, during the film's production.

• Clint Howard as Junior, Colonel Hathi's son.

• Chad Stuart as Flaps the Vulture

• Lord Tim Hudson as Dizzie the Vulture

• John Abbott as Akela the Indian Wolf

• Ben Wright as Father Wolf

• Darleen Carr as Shanti

• Leo De Lyon as Flunkey the Baboon

• Hal Smith as The Slob Elephant

• Terry-Thomas as Elephants' singing voices

• Digby Wolfe as Ziggy the Vulture


The score features eight original songs:

• "Jungle Book Overture" - (instrumental)

• "Colonel Hathi's March" - Colonel Hathi, the elephants

• "The Bare Necessities" - Baloo, Mowgli

• "I Wan'na Be Like You" - King Louie and Baloo

• "Colonel Hathi's March" (Reprise) - Colonel Hathi, the elephants

• "Trust in Me" - Kaa

• "That's What Friends Are For" - The Vultures, Mowgli, Shere Khan

• "My Own Home" - The Girl

• "The Bare Necessities" (Reprise)" - Baloo, Bagheera


The Jungle Book received an Academy Award nomination in 1967 for Best Song for "The Bare Necessities". However, the award was lost against "Talk to the Animals" from Doctor Dolittle.

Gregory Peck, then president of the Academy of Motion Pictures and Science, lobbied extensively for the film to be nominated for, or even win, Best Picture at the Academy Awards. However he was unsuccessful in convincing the other members, who felt that an animated film should not be nominated for the award.