Walt Disney went out on top with this animated feature, the studio’s 19th and the last he produced. Very loosely based on Rudyard Kipling’s classic story collection, the film offers a lighthearted take on the adventures of Mowgli, a human orphan raised by wolves. With the help of colorful characters like Baloo the Bear, Bagheera the Panther and Col. Hathi the Elephant, Mowgli tries to escape the two beasts out to have him for dinner, Kaa the Snake and Shere Khan the Tiger. This was Disney’s first animated feature to use well-known actors for voices, and the animators even built the characters around the images of actors like Phil Harris, Louis Prima and George Sanders. They joined Disney veterans such as Sterling Holloway, J. Pat O’Malley and Verna Felton (in her last film after a long association with the studio). Topping off the fun is a spritely score by Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman, along with a single song from Disney composer Terry Gilkyson, the Oscar-nominated “The Bare Necessities,” featuring Harris’ memorable jazz vocals.
Dir. Wolfgang Reitherman,