The Jungle Book, based on the Mowgli stories by Rudyard Kipling, was the last animated feature under Walt Disney’s personal supervision before his death.
It was filmed at a declared cost of $4 million over a 42-month period. Full directorial credit is given to Wolfgang Reitherman, a 35-year Disney vet. Reitherman was one of several Jungle hands who worked on Disney’s first animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Friendly panther, vocalized by Sebastian Cabot, discovers a baby boy in the jungle, and deposits him for upbringing with a wolf family, John Abbott and Ben Wright. At aged 10, boy, looped by Clint Howard, is seen in need of shift to the human world, because man-hating tiger (George Sanders) has returned to the jungle.
Encounters along the way include a friendship with a devil-may-care bear, expertly cast with the voice of Phil Harris. The standout song goes to Harris, a rhythmic ‘Bare Necessities’ extolling the value of a simple life and credited to Terry Gilkyson.
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Robert B. and Richard M. Sherman wrote five other songs, best of which is ‘Wanna Be Like You’, sung in free-wheeling fashion by Louis Prima, vocalizing the king of a monkey tribe.
1967: Nomination: Best Song (‘Bare Necessities’)