Pre-teen jungle boy Mowgli gets to human world and is pursued by P.T.Barnum circus scout Harrison who wants to take him to circus as curiosity. Harrison hires local grandee Buldeo for help ...
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Young boy Mowgli, who was raised in the jungle by animals, must decide whether he belongs to the jungle or the human world as well as confront the villainous tiger, who's threatening the wolf pack that adopted him.
A caring she-wolf adopts a lost human baby. He's named Mowgli and raised by Baloo the bear and Bagheera the panther. One day, impish monkeys snatch Mowgli away and take him to their city. Baloo and Bagheera ask Kaa the snake for help.
Pre-teen jungle boy Mowgli gets to human world and is pursued by P.T.Barnum circus scout Harrison who wants to take him to circus as curiosity. Harrison hires local grandee Buldeo for help in tracking Mowgli down. It turns out to be that Mowgli is Buldeo's nephew, and the only obstacle for him to take his late brother's rich estate. Written by
Jamie Williams, then 12 years old, stars as the man-cub Mowgli in this movie adaptation of the classic Rudyard Kipling story. He is supported by an outstanding cast of animals, such as Baloo the bear, Baghera the panther, and Shere Khan the tiger.
The story is too well know to bear repeating. But playing against Williams are characters representing the Yankee "collector" for P. T, Barnum's circus (Bill Campbell), a couple of eccentric British army officers and their wives, an Indian hurdy-gurdy player complete with trained monkey, an Indian prince who is really Mowgli's uncle, and a positively weird tracker with his trained python.
There is also an appearance by Roddy McDowall, who was himself a very famous child star (How Green Was My Valley, Kidnapped (1948)) with over 158 movie appearances in his career.
The boy-cub, his wolf brothers, and all the animals out shine and out star the adults in this movie. The animal trainers are the invisible stars, directing the animals in major roles, not just quick appearances.
Williams is exceptional in his role as Mowgli. I wonder at his stunt abilities. It must be hard to use a body double for a 12 year old boy. See him climb and leap about in trees, run with the animals, dive into rivers, and clamber around on the roof of a moving train.
And he's cute, to boot! Tanned, smooth skinned, and lithe. With a grin to light up a city. It's a joy to watch him run though the jungle swinging from tree to tree. A young Tarzan comes to mind. Maybe in a few more years when his body has filled out, Williams could replace Johnny Weismuller?
Watch this movie as an antidote to the dreadful cartoon version of the novel, with the singing bear. It is an extremely realistic portrayal of a feral boy, his jungle friends, the jungle itself, and those adults who would wish him ill. It belongs in that category of serious movies that star children, but are not just children's stories.
This story was not one of Kipling's best, in my opinion. It is rather fantastic. For his best story made into a movie, I refer you to "Captains Courageous" which was filmed in three versions.
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