The Jungle Book is a 1967 American animated film produced by Walt Disney Productions. Released on October 18, 1967, it is the 19th animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series. It was inspired by the stories about the feral child Mowgli from the book of the same name by Rudyard Kipling. Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, it was the last to be produced by Walt Disney, who died during its production.
The early versions of both the screenplay and the soundtrack followed Kipling's work more closely, with a dramatic, dark, and sinister tone which Disney did not want in his family film, leading to writer Bill Peet and composer Terry Gilkyson being replaced. The casting employed famous actors and musicians Phil Harris, Sebastian Cabot, George Sanders and Louis Prima, as well as Disney regulars such as Sterling Holloway, and the director's son, Bruce Reitherman, as Mowgli. The Jungle Book was released to positive reception, with much acclaim to its soundtrack, featuring five songs by the Sherman Brothers and one by Gilkyson, "The Bare Necessities". The film grossed over $73 million in the United States in its first release, and as much again from two re-releases.
Mowgli, a young orphan boy, is found in a basket in the deep jungles of Madhya Pradesh, India. Bagheera, a black panther who discovers the baby, promptly takes him to a mother Indian Wolf who has just had cubs. She raises him along with her own cubs and Mowgli soon becomes well acquainted with jungle life. Mowgli is shown ten years later, playing with his wolf siblings.
One night, when the wolf tribe learns that Shere Khan, a man-eating Bengal tiger, has returned to the jungle, they realize that Mowgli must be taken to the "man village" for his own safety. Bagheera volunteers to escort him back.
They leave that very night, but Mowgli is determined to stay in the jungle. He and Bagheera rest in a tree for the night, when Kaa, a hungry Indian Python, appears and hypnotizes Mowgli into a deep and peaceful sleep, traps him tightly in his coils and tries to devour him, but fails when Bagheera intervenes. The next morning, Mowgli tries to join the elephant patrol led by Colonel Hathi and his wife Winifred. Bagheera finds Mowgli and they argue which results in Bagheera leaving Mowgli on his own. Mowgli soon meets up with the laid-back, fun-loving sloth bear Baloo, who shows Mowgli the fun of having a care-free life and promises to raise Mowgli himself and never take him back to the Man-Village.
Mowgli now wants to stay in the jungle more than ever. Shortly afterwards, Baloo is tricked and outsmarted by a gang of monkeys who kidnap Mowgli and take him to their leader, King Louie the orangutan, who makes a deal with Mowgli that if he tells him the secret of making fire like a human, then he will make it so he can stay in the jungle. However, since he was not raised by humans, Mowgli does not know how to make fire. Bagheera and Baloo arrive to rescue Mowgli and in the ensuing chaos, King Louie's palace is demolished to rubble. Bagheera speaks to Baloo that night and convinces him that the jungle will never be safe for Mowgli so long as Shere Khan is there. In the morning, Baloo reluctantly explains to Mowgli that the man village is best for the boy, but Mowgli accuses him of breaking his promise and runs away. As Baloo sets off on foot in search of Mowgli, Bagheera rallies the help of Hathi and his patrol to make a search party. However, Shere Khan himself, who was eavesdropping on Bagheera and Hathi's conversation, is now determined to hunt and kill Mowgli himself. Meanwhile, Mowgli has encountered Kaa once again in a different tree and the hungry python exacts his revenge by hypnotizing Mowgli again, and tries to eat him, but thanks to the unwitting intervention of the suspicious Shere Khan, Mowgli awakens again, tricks the snake again, and escapes.
As a storm gathers, a depressed Mowgli encounters a group of puckish but friendly vultures who closely resemble The Beatles, and they agree to be his friends as they too are outcasts, and feel that everyone has to have friends. Shere Khan appears shortly after, scaring off the Vultures and confronting Mowgli. Baloo rushes to the rescue and tries to keep Shere Khan away from Mowgli, but is injured. When lightning strikes a nearby tree and sets it ablaze, the vultures swoop in to distract Shere Khan while Mowgli gathers flaming branches and ties them to Shere Khan's tail. As fire is his only fear, the tiger panics and runs off.
Bagheera and Baloo take Mowgli to the edge of the Man-Village, but Mowgli is still hesitant to go there. His mind soon changes when he is smitten by a beautiful young girl from the village who is coming down by the riverside to fetch water. After noticing Mowgli, she "accidentally" drops her water pot, and Mowgli retrieves it for her and follows her into the man village. After Mowgli chooses to stay in the man village, Baloo and Bagheera decide to head home, content that Mowgli is safe and happy with his own kind.
- Bruce Reitherman as Mowgli, an orphaned boy, commonly referred to as "man-cub" by the other characters.
- Phil Harris as Baloo, a sloth bear who leads a carefree life and believes in letting the good things in life come by themselves.
- Sebastian Cabot as Bagheera, a serious black panther (melanistic leopard) who is determined to take Mowgli back to the village and disapproves of Baloo's carefree approach to life.
- Louis Prima as King Louie, an ape who wants to be a human, and offers to let Mowgli stay in the jungle (by bribing him with bananas) if Mowgli shows him the secret of "Man's Red Flower" (fire).
- George Sanders as Shere Khan, an intelligent and sophisticated yet merciless Bengal tiger who hates all humans for fear of their guns and fire and wants to kill Mowgli.
- Sterling Holloway as Kaa, an Indian python who also seeks Mowgli as prey, but comically fails each time he attempts to eat him.
- J. Pat O'Malley as Colonel Hathi the Indian elephant/Buzzie the Vulture
- Verna Felton as Winifred, Colonel Hathi's wife. It was Felton's last film role, with her dying one day before the death of Walt Disney, during the film's production.
- Clint Howard as Junior, Colonel Hathi's son.
- Chad Stuart as Flaps the Vulture
- Lord Tim Hudson as Dizzie the Vulture
- John Abbott as Akela the Indian Wolf
- Ben Wright as Father Wolf
- Darleen Carr as Shanti
- Leo De Lyon as Flunkey the Baboon*
- Hal Smith as The Slob Elephant*
- Ralph Wright as The Gloomy Elephant*
- Digby Wolfe as Ziggy the Vulture*
- Bill Skiles and Pete Henderson as Monkeys*