The ‘original’ Jungle Book

We are just a day away from the much-awaited, The Jungle Book. While we wait, we thought of going back to the original, Walt Disney’s animated film, The Jungle Book that released in 1967.

From rejected characters & songs to a refusal from The Beatles to sing for the movie, The Jungle Book proved to be the most trying film of Walt Disney’s career. We take you behind the scenes of this amazing marvel.

Source: Disney
Early sketches of characters from Disney’s The Jungle Book, including the deleted Rocky the Rhino, far right. Source: Disney


Walt Disney’s last film
Walt Disney passed away in 1966 after a prolonged battle with lung cancer. The movie was released the following year, making it the last animation film that Walt Disney himself worked on. After Disney’s death, the future of the Disney Studio was uncertain & many believed that the studio may have to be closed down. But the critical & financial success of the film ensured that Disney Animation continues to work.

Getting rid of the original
Rudyard Kipling first published The Jungle Book as a collection of stories in a magazine. But when Disney decided to adapt it for the big screen, Bill Peet, a Disney storyboard artist gave it a clearer storyline than Kipling’s episodic tales. However, this draft was rejected by Disney who found it too serious & dark for a young audience. Following further disagreements, Peet left the project & his job at Disney. Although Peet’s draft was reworked, certain elements like King Louie & the ending where Mowgli falls in love were retained.

Original trailer from 1967. Source: Youtube

Baloo – the star
Phil Harris, an American singer, songwriter, jazz musician, actor & comedian, gave his distinctive voice to Baloo, the bear. Before Harris was cast for the role, Baloo didn’t have a huge part in the movie. But Disney loved the warmth & spontaneity that Harris bought to the character. Baloo was eventually made the silent father figure & the emotional anchor of the film.

It’s like ‘cow’, not like ‘show’
We’ve been saying it wrong all these years. Yes. You pronounce the first syllable of Mowgli like ‘cow’ & not like ‘show’. As per later reports, Kipling’s daughter took offence to the wrong pronunciation of the name. But Disney was not the first one to make this mistake. However, Kipling’s daughter never forgave Disney’s mistake.

the jungle book
Original poster of the movie in 1967. Source: Google images

Louis was Louie
Another celebrity that made the movie possible was Louis Prima, popular American singer, songwriter, actor & trumpeter. He became the voice of King Louie, the orangutan king. In fact, he got so involved with the project that he improvised his song, ‘I wanna be like you.’, and frequently gave suggestions to the studio about his character. Legend has it that he even suggested killing his character because he could perform a great dying scene.

Kaa is the voice of Winnie the Pooh
Would you believe it? Voice actor, Sterling Holloway was the voice for Kaa, and later gave voice to a number of Disney movies.

The Beatles could have been the vultures
The original plan was for The Beatles to give voice to the four vultures who befriend Mowgli. But due to other commitments & John Lennon’s reservation about the whole idea, the vultures were finally voiced by J. Pat O’Malley, Chad Stuart, ‘Lord’ Tim Hudson & Digby Wolfe. But it can’t be denied that the vultures in the final film bore some physical resemblance to the popular British band.

Bare necessities
After the first draft by Bill Peet was rejected, the Sherman Brothers were asked to create some lighthearted music for the new film. They had already created hits for Disney’s previous films, including Mary Poppins & The Sword in the Stone. But before they came on board, songwriter Terry Gilkyson had already composed songs for the original draft. The only song of his that remained in the final film was ‘The Bare Necessities’ that got nominated for the Oscar. Ironic, we say.

The Bare Necessities. Source: Youtube

We leave you with something to look forward to. Here’s what next week has in store for all of us:

Source: Youtube


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