Teenaged Mowgli, who was raised by wolves, appears in a village in India and is adopted by Messua. Mowgli learns human language and some human ways quickly, though keeping jungle ideas. Influential Merchant Buldeo is bigoted against 'beasts' including Mowgli; not so Buldeo's pretty daughter, whom Mowgli takes on a jungle tour where they find a treasure, setting the evil of human greed in motion. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
The Jungle Book (1942) was the first film for which original soundtrack recordings were issued. Previously, when record companies released music from a film, they had insisted on re-recording the music in their own studios with their own equipment. The "Jungle Book" records were taken from the same recordings used for the film's soundtrack, and their commercial success paved the way for more original-soundtrack albums. See more »
When the thieves are entering the treasure chamber, the first thief sits beside a large granite rock and begins running his hands through the gold coins. As he does so, his knee bumps the rock and it moves, showing that it is clearly just a lightweight prop. See more »
Memorable Star, Brilliant Art Design--And Incredibly Dire DVDs
Loosely based on the Rudyard Kipling "Mowgli" stories, the 1942 JUNGLE BOOK offered war-weary audiences brilliant Technicolor, elaborate sets, numerous action sequences, exotic animals, lost treasure, and a climatic firestorm--not to mention charismatic Indian-born star Sabu in a persistently and titillating half-naked state. It was easily one of the most popular films of the year, a two-hour respite from some of the darkest days of World War II, and its style was so admired it easily won two Academy Awards for best color cinematography and best art direction.
Seen today, however, JUNGLE BOOK is considerably less enchanting. Much of the film's original appeal arose from audience interest in seeing "jungle beasts" in full color--and while several of the animal sequences (particularly those relating to tiger Shere Khan) are classics of their kind, most modern audiences have seen many such scenes in many later films. Further undercutting the animal-interest is the film's use of several animal "dummies" that seemed realistic in 1942 but which are now very obvious in their artificiality.
What remains, however, are Sabu and the overall design of the film, both of which are quite remarkable. Sabu (1924-1963) was an extremely unlikely star, plucked from complete obscurity in India by the Korda brothers to star in the 1937 ELEPHANT BOY. Fluent in English, unexpectedly charismatic, and with a handsome face and impressive body that the Kordas displayed to great effect, Sabu's greatest success would come with the 1940 Korda brothers' production of THE THIEF OF BAGDAD, and he would remain a popular actor in exotic roles throughout World War II. Although not his best film, JUNGLE BOOK captures Sabu at the very height of his appeal--and that is saying a great deal indeed.
The design of the film is equally notable and provides a perfect backdrop to Sabu's charms. Filmed largely on soundstages where producer Alexander Korda, director Zoltan Korda, and art director Vincent Korda could exercise absolute control over every aspect of the film, JUNGLE BOOK is a study in the art of the Technicolor process and easily ranks among the finest color films of that decade. The sets, particularly the complex jungle and "lost city" scenes, are both remarkably fine and beautifully photographed, and the firestorm that climaxes the film retains considerable power.
Unfortunately, however, there doesn't really seem a single DVD edition of the film that presents the film in its full 1942 glory. JUNGLE BOOK is among a number of famous films that has fallen into public domain--and the result is a host of incredibly dire releases to the home market. I have seen, either in full or in part, at least a half-dozen DVD releases of the film, and in each instance the colors are extremely muddy and the picture very fuzzy, often to a point at which the movie is virtually unwatchable. And sadly, given the obscurity of the film in the wake of the popular Walt Disney animated feature, we are very unlikely to see anything better.
Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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