HERE WE ARE. London 1896. The fog permeates every corner of the omnipresent darkness. The cobblestones are slick from an earlier rain. The gaslamps flicker and cast long shadows on every brick building on the street. The greatest detective alive is on the prowl for clues to his latest case… and no – it isn’t Sherlock Holmes. It’s an adorable mouse-based fan fiction of Sherlock Holmes! To dive into one of my favorite Sherlockian tributes of all time, the Fella and I brought our pal JR over to the house to watch and talk shop about mysteries, mustaches, and mice.
Admit it – you read this in Benedict Cumberbatch’s voice.
Spring was well on its way here in Chicago, and then it got a bit cold, and then it got warm again. Then it got cold, and rainy, and then it got warm again. And then it snowed a bit and rained and got warm again. It’s been a confusing time for all of us. To help shake off the funk of shifting from winter to spring, we hit the road for the humid tropical climes of India with this total favorite from the Disney archive. It’s also topical because the second live action remake of this particular film hits movie theaters on April 15th! That’s this Friday!!!
The Fella and I were joined this time around by our best bud and roommate Bill, who is (in many ways) Baloo personified.
The Film:The Jungle Book(1967)
This was the last animated film Walt worked on, as he died in 1966. As many wondered what would become of the company without him, if The Jungle Book had failed at the box office, the studio would likely have closed down for good. Luckily, it did very very well, and the studio and animators continued to work.
Walt Disney (December 5, 1901 – December 15, 1966)
Based on the novel The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling.
The Vultures in the film are famously modeled after The Beatles – and the band was approached to provide their voices but John Lennon vetoed the idea and suggested Disney get Elvis Presley instead. Walt maintained that the design for the Vultures stay the same – and their song was re-written to be more of a timeless barbershop quartet.
All of the jazz scatting in the film is improv’d by Louis Prima and Phil Harris.
The voice of Mowgli is provided by Bruce Reitherman, son of producer and director Wolfgang Reitherman.
At one point, Colonel Hathi’s wife threatens to take control of the herd – ironically, in real life, elephants are a matriarchal species and she should be leading by default.
Reportedly, Rudyard Kipling’s daughter Elsie stated that the name Mowgli is pronounced “mau-gli” (as in rhyming with “cow”) and she never forgave Disney for mucking that up.
“The Bare Necessities” shares the same philosophy as The Lion King’s “Hakuna Matata” — “Forget about your worries/and your strife” & “It means no worries/For the rest of your days” are pretty much the same lyrics.
Kaa the snake is Mowgli’s friend and protector in the original book. Walt felt that audiences would not accept a snake as anything but a villain. Kaa is the only villain voiced by Sterling Holloway (not counting the chaotic neutral Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland).
George Sanders, voice of Shere Khan, became the first Oscar winner to perform a voice role in a Disney film.
In 1994, Disney released a live action non-musical remake of The Jungle Book which did reasonably well, but was puzzled over for keeping the story and spirit of Kipling’s original work even less than the 1967 animated version had.