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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Rudyard Kipling's two Jungle Book anthologies comprise fifteen stories, four of which were used is this film: "Mowgli's Brothers," "How Fear Came," "Tiger! Tiger!," and "The King's Ankus." See more »
Spotted hyenas and black bears are not found in India. See more »
[as they ride up on horseback upon a group of villagers gathered in a circle around an old wise man]
What a beautiful old man. What a lovely head.
India's filled with old men mahila.
But not like the one in the yellow turban. He's like a head of John the Baptist.
The mahila refers to the storyteller?
Are these silent monsters at peace with us? It is but a true stray leap with man. But I who have seen the tusks-stained red with blood, I could tell you a tale of the silent ones... gor...
[...] See more »
When the Blitz began taking its toll on London, producer Alexander Korda picked up stakes and headed for Hollywood, with his two brothers, Zoltan and Vincent, in tow. There, they finished "Thief of Bagdad" (1940) and produced "That Hamilton Woman" (1941) before beginning this elaborate Technicolor version of Kipling's Mowgli stories, originally titled "The Jungle Books," (published in 1894 and 1895). The film focuses on three of the volume's stories - "Mowgli's Brothers," "Tiger, Tiger" and "The King's Ankus." It's a fairly interesting screen translation of Kipling's attempt to provide young readers with the stories he was told by his Indian ayah when he was a child growing up in the Far East.
When a big-spending movie producer like Korda acquires the rights to a classic, there are inevitable changes. Someone hit upon the cute idea of giving Mowgli (played by Sabu) a "love interest." She appears here in the person of Mahala (Patricia O'Rourke), but after she passively lends impetus to an ill-fated search for lost treasure, her character becomes inconsequential to the rest of the picture.
The film begins as Mowgli's mother, Messua (Rosemary de Camp) is widowed one morning when her husband becomes breakfast for a hungry tiger. We later learn that the tiger is the vicious Shere Khan, who during Mowgli's childhood has become his arch-enemy. Unfortunately, when Mowgli and Shere Khan square off for a climactic battle to the end, the dated special-effects are a disappointment. Perhaps Kipling's original version of Khan's death (in the book, he is trampled lifeless by Mowgli's animal/allies) would have better suited the film.
Three of the village's leading citizens have been thrown together as a sort of Hindu vaudeville act: Buldeo, the blowhard hunter (the good, underrated Joseph Calleia); the greedy barber (John Qualen); and the "pundit" (Frank Puglia). Their lust for a dead king's treasure is given appropriate levity. The predatory Buldeo, Shere Khan's human counterpart, represents the single most dangerous threat to the jungle and the sense of community held sacred by the animals who live there. Ideologically, therefore, the fire that purges the jungle of all human sins seems an appropriate climax.
In the end, we see Buldeo, now aged and wiser, confessing his past sins to all who will pay a rupee to listen to his story of Mowgli and the jungle. As we see, he ultimately earns his money and reputation honestly as not only a story-teller, but as the narrator of this charming spectacle.
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