A cultivated mind - I do not mean that of a philosopher, but any mind to which the fountains of knowledge have been opened, and which has been taught, in any tolerable degree, to exercise its faculties - finds sources of inexhaustible interest in all that surrounds it; in the objects of nature, the achievements of art, the imaginations of poetry, the incidents of history, the ways of mankind, past and present, and their prospects in the future.
“The Jungle Book was inspired by the 1894 book of the same name by English author Rudyard Kipling. Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman, it was the last film to be produced by Walt Disney, who died during its production. The plot follows Mowgli, a feral child raised in the Indian jungle by wolves, as his friends Bagheera the panther and Baloo the bear try to convince him to leave the jungle before the evil tiger Shere Khan arrives.
After The Sword in the Stone was released, storyman Bill Peet claimed to Walt Disney that ‘we [the animation department] can do more interesting animal characters’ and suggested that Kipling’s The Jungle Book could be used for the studio’s next film. Disney agreed and Peet created an original treatment, with little supervision, as he had done with One Hundred and One Dalmatians and The Sword in the Stone. However, after the disappointing reaction to The Sword in the Stone, Walt Disney decided to become more involved in the story than he had been with the past two films, with his nephew Roy E. Disney saying that ‘[he] certainly influenced everything about it. (…) With Jungle Book, he obviously got hooked on the jungle and the characters that lived there.’
Peet decided to follow closely the dramatic, dark, and sinister tone of Kipling’s book, which is about the struggles between animals and man. However, the film’s writers decided to make the story more straightforward, as the novel is very episodic, with Mowgli going back and forth from the jungle to the Man-Village, and Peet felt that Mowgli returning to the Man-Village should be the ending for the film. Some plot points were taken from Kipling’s 1895 novel The Second Jungle Book.
Disney was not pleased with how the story was turning out, as he felt it was too dark for family viewing and insisted on script changes. Peet refused, and after a long argument, Peet left the Disney studio in January 1964. Disney then assigned Larry Clemmons as his new writer and one of the four story men for the film, giving Clemmons a copy of Kipling’s book, and telling him: ‘The first thing I want you to do is not to read it.’ Clemmons still looked at the novel, and thought it was too disjointed and without continuity, needing adaptations to fit a film script. Although much of Bill Peet’s work was discarded, the personalities of the characters remained in the final film.
Many familiar voices inspired the animators in their creation of the characters and helped them shape their personalities. This use of familiar voices for key characters was a rarity in Disney’s past films. The staff was shocked to hear that a wise cracking comedian, Phil Harris was going to be in a Kipling film. Disney suggested Harris after meeting him at a party. Harris improvised most of his lines, as he considered the scripted lines ‘didn’t feel natural’. After Harris was cast, Disneyland Records president Jimmy Johnson suggested Disney to get Louis Prima as King Louie, as he ‘felt that Louis would be great as foil’. Walt also cast other prominent actors such as George Sanders as Shere Khan and Sebastian Cabot as Bagheera.
David Bailey was originally cast as Mowgli, but his voice changed during production, leading Bailey to not fit the ‘young innocence of Mowgli’s character’ at which the producers were aiming. Thus director Wolfgang Reitherman cast his son Bruce, who had just voiced Christopher Robin in Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree. The animators shot footage of Bruce as a guide for the character’s performance.
The characterization of the orangutan King Louie has frequently been cited (including by Anthony Edward Schiappa, Susan Miller, and Greg Rode) as a racial stereotype, especially given the political and civil rights climates in America during the time this film was released. Initially, the producers considered famous jazz musician Louis Armstrong for the role, but to avoid the likely controversy that would result from casting a black person to voice an ape, they instead chose Italian-American musician Louis Prima.
Longtime Disney collaborator Terry Gilkyson was brought in to write the songs for the film. Gilkyson delivered several complete songs which were faithful in tone to Rudyard Kipling’s novel, but Walt Disney felt that his efforts were too dark. The Sherman Brothers were brought in to do a complete rewrite, on the condition that they not read Kipling’s book. The only piece of Gilkyson’s work which survived to the final film was his upbeat tune ‘The Bare Necessities’, which was liked by the rest of the film crew. Walt Disney asked the Shermans to ‘find scary places and write fun songs’ for their compositions, and frequently brought them to storyline sessions.
In the original book, the vultures are grim and evil characters who feast on the dead. Disney lightened it up by having the vultures bearing a physical and vocal resemblance to The Beatles, including the signature mop-top haircut. It was also planned to have the members of the band to both voice the characters and sing their song, ‘That’s What Friends Are For’. However, the Beatles member John Lennon’s refusal to work on animated films in that period led to the idea being discarded. The casting of the vultures still brought a British Invasion musician, Chad Stuart of the duo Chad & Jeremy.
The Jungle Book was released in October 1967, just 10 months after Walt’s death. Produced on a budget of $4 million, the film was a massive success, finishing 1967 as the fourth highest-grossing movie of the year. The Jungle Book received positive reviews upon release, undoubtedly influenced by a nostalgic reaction to the death of Disney. Life magazine referred to it as “the best thing of its kind since Dumbo, another short, bright, unscary and blessedly uncultivated cartoon.’ The song ‘The Bare Necessities’ was nominated for Best Song at the 40th Academy Awards, losing to ‘Talk to the Animals’ from Doctor Dolittle. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Gregory Peck lobbied extensively for this film to be nominated for Best Picture, but was unsuccessful.
According to Elsie Kipling Baimbridge, Rudyard Kipling’s daughter, ‘Mowgli’ is pronounced ‘MAU-glee’ (first syllable rhymes with cow), not ‘MOH-glee’ (first syllable rhymes with go). She reportedly never forgave Walt Disney for the gaffe.
After a studio screening of the finished film Walt Disney’s personal nurse Hazel George came up to animator Ollie Johnston with tears in her eyes and told him that the final shot where Bagheera and Baloo walk off into the sunset was perfect and that it was ‘just the way that Walt had gone out.’”
don’t ever start thinking about utilitarianism in the middle of the night because you’ll start envisioning scenarios of what you would and wouldn’t do in the name of the greater good, and before you know it, you’ve assigned utility values to everything from your old professors to your laptop to your stuffed animals, and it’s a slippery slope from there. really, just don’t.
The closing shot is splendid, showing Brett at his flamboyant best—and yet his actions are quite illogical. It is the railway station at night. Holmes and Watson are now alone. Holmes, cane over shoulder, suddenly turns in a dramatic fashion as only Jeremy Brett could and walks off, away from Watson, down the platform until the hissing steam finally engulfs him. It is a very satisfying moment—but where is he going? He is walking in completely the wrong direction for the exit. Illogical, but rather magical too.
A bit of Sherlock Holmes / Jeremy Brett’s hair style through the year.
Personally, I think it went to quite some changes and I can’t understand all of them. We rarely see Holmes with “fresh” hair - without product in his hair, and while in S1 and S2 the product is not overused, we can already see they used a lot of product with beginning of S3 (last row, left). Personally, I think his hair in “The Final Problem” and “The Naval Treaty” are the best suiting and fitting (second row). In later seasons, they not only invented the “rainbow of doom” as I call it, but they also put so much product into Jeremy’s hair, that it almost vanished (last gif).
In connection with Jeremy’s illness and weight gain, I sometimes think it would have been better to let his hair be a bit more fluffy, so it sometimes shows off his sickness so much. I don’t know who made the decision. Jeremy? The Make Up Department?
And of course, there is the infamous season with his short hair! For all who want to know more, here a little part from “Bending the Willow” by David Stuart Davies:
It was at this period that his hair was cut quite short. He explained the reason for this change to me thus: ‘Before my hair was long, and it had to be combed back and plastered down to keep it in place. Now that it’s short, I can play with my hair, run my fingers through it, ruffle it, which I just couldn’t do before. It’s just something else to help me play the character.’
Sadly, the real reason for the change had more to do with Jeremy’s mental instability than another ploy to humanise Holmes. He was, by the time of the second series, beginning to hate Sherlock Holmes, even stating so in the press. He told Geoffrey Wansell of The Mail on Sunday: ‘I never liked the devil from the start. I can’t find anything of me in him,’ adding, ‘I must learn to live again.’ In trying to ‘live again’ and perhaps shake off the dark shadow of Holmes, he cut his hair in some kind of symbolic act.
Edward Hardwicke told me the truth behind the haircut: ‘Jeremy just got into one of his manic states—you know, I hate Sherlock Holmes etc., and one day he cut his hair. In front of the mirror, he lopped bits off. I remember the first time I saw him after he had done it. We were both appearing in an 80th Birthday Tribute to Sir Laurence Olivier at The National. He turned up at the theatre and I said, “God, what have you done to your hair?” It was patently obvious it had not been cut by a barber—there were bits sticking up all over.’
The make-up department at Granada had to deal with the mangled thatch, as did producer Michael Cox, who, keeping up appearances, suggested that the shortlocks Sherlock worked. I was dismayed, as were many other champions of the series. At that time, of course, we were not aware of the seriousness of Brett’s illness.