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Jungle Book, The (1942, Sabu, Joseph Calleia)

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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.

production details
Country: USA | Alexander Korda | 109 minutes
Release Year: 1942

Director: Zoltan Korda
Writers: Rudyard Kipling, Laurence Stallings

cast
Faith Brook as English Girl
Sabu as Mowgli
John Qualen as The Barber
Joseph Calleia as Buldeo
Frank Puglia as The Pundit
Rosemary DeCamp as Messua
Patricia O’Rourke as Mahala
Ralph Byrd as Durga
Noble Johnson as Sikh

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