Lawrence Stallings cleverly adapted Rudyard Kipling’s classic Mowgli Jungle Book stories for this vivid and hugely entertaining Alexander Korda production that, said Variety, is “on the same grand scale of pictorial elaborateness which characterised The Thief of Bagdad. ”
Sabu – who had been discovered by filmmaker Robert Flaherty in India – was perfectly cast as Kipling’s boy hero Mowgli. The story, told here by Joseph Calleia, recounts how the infant Mowgli leaves his people and is raised by wolves in the jungle. He returns to his native village as an adolescent when he is captured and “tamed” by villagers and his real mother (Rosemary DeCamp). Later, he avenges himself on the tiger Shere Khan who killed his father and now terrorises the other beasts and the villagers.
With a pretty village maiden (Patricia O’Rourke), for whom he develops a romantic attraction, Mowgli discovers a lost city and saves its treasures from thieving Buldeo (Calleia) and his cronies The Barber (John Qualen) and The Pundit (Frank Puglia). After saving the villagers and the animals from a devastating fire started by Buldeo and his accomplices in an attempt to kill him, Mowgli, now disillusioned with mankind, turns his back on civilisation and returns to the jungle.
There were well-justified Academy Award nominations for special effects, set design, sound and Vincent Korda’s art direction. Jungle Book was a major success and was the last film on which all three brothers worked together, signalling an end to a major era in the career of, particularly, Alexander Korda.
“More thrilling than the deeds of man . . more beautiful than the love of woman . . more wonderful than the dreams of
children!” – Original publicity line.
USA / Alexander Korda / 109 minutes / 1942 Filmed in Technicolor
Writer: Lawrence Stallings, from the stories of Rudyard Kipling / Music: Miklos Rozsa / Cinematography: Lee Garmes, W. Howard Greene / Directors: Zoltan Korda, Andre de Toth
Cast: Sabu, Joseph Calleia, John Qualen, Frank Puglia, Rosemary DeCamp, Patricia O’Rourke, Ralph Byrd, John Mather, Faith Brook