the sherman brothers

10

The Jungle Book

136 in x of animated feature film history
Release: Oct. 18th, 1967
Country: USA
Director: Wolfgang Reitherman

“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.’”

(source)
(source)
(source)

FIRST POSTED: 5/15/17

10

What is it about the Walt Disney Records: The Legacy Collection series that makes them so appealing? Is it the Mary Blair-esque packaging by Lorelay Bove? The small reproductions of the original concept art and character designs found inside? Or maybe it’s just the way they’re put together like tiny, little hardcover ‘Art Of’ books?

It’s all of this.

And THE MUSIC. Definitely the music!

all pics by le jolly roger

Via Bob Lefsetz’s Newsletter (it comes through email but may get posted to lefsetz.com/Wordpress eventually)

————————————

Richard told me it was an UNDERPLAY!

I sauntered into the Palladium expecting attendance to be sparse and the people who were there to be kids. But the place was packed and those in attendance were way past puberty, not that there was not screaming involved, but average age was 19 or 20, what was happening here, weren’t teen phenoms supposed to be time-stamped, to have their era and then be done, like the Cassidy brothers, Bobby Sherman and New Kids On The Block?

But no, Niall Horan has a #2 record, soon to be #1, how did this happen?

The audience is in control. That’s what Barnett told me. Used to be radio was the arbiter. But now the public gets a voice. Turns out they’re still into 1D. And those streaming numbers force the hand of radio and other old line gatekeepers.

Not that the starmaker machinery is not involved.

That’s what people don’t buy, the same ones paying attention to the press and the scuttlebutt. Saying major labels are over, you can make it on your own and streaming is the devil. Did you read today’s RIAA report? Revenue is up 17%! A far cry from the last decade when it was all doom and gloom, and paid on demand streaming is 43% of the total, far outnumbering downloads and physical.

The future’s so bright you gotta wear shades.

So Richard and Harry allowed Niall to make the record he wanted to. Which is a backlash against the overbearing label shenanigans the Mottola era inaugurated, never mind the reign of Clive Davis. The team was established and the record was recorded but they did argue about the single, which took 17 mixes to get right, because today it is all about the single, and if it’s not right you’re screwed.

And then Niall went around the world twice promoting himself and his new music. They told me he was good at it, remembered names, and I took this with a grain of salt until I was on the stairs after the show and he said “Hi Bob.” Hell, there are musicians I’ve known for decades who make like they don’t know me, ones I’ve written superlative stuff about, but this guy I met in passing as part of a group remembers me? I didn’t believe it. I thought he was prompted. But no, Niall just told me Richard had mentioned that I was gonna be there last night.

Whew!

People want to work with nice people. Talent isn’t enough.

And you work harder than a financial wizard, with a hell of a lot more jet lag. Niall shrugged when I queried whether he was burned out, he said he’d been around the globe seven times so far, hell, he just celebrated his 24th birthday in Japan! Staying up all night drinking until the English football came on.

When he’s not playing golf, that’s how he blows off steam. When he’s unavailable on the links.

And the label meshed with management and worked radio and the usual suspects, it’s a juggernaut, I tell you!

And now is where you pooh-pooh the whole damn thing, saying the music sucks, but the truth is Niall’s solo work is closer to Neil Young than Nas, and it ain’t just kiddie ditties, it’s more…rock and roll. With melody.

Yup, young people are gonna save this world. Everything old is new again. Niall loves the Eagles, and you may hate them, but the Eagles had superb songwriting skills, with melodies and choruses, and so does Niall. Not making a direct comparison, it’s just that what goes for rock today is oftentimes too self-referential, such a reaction to what once was that you can’t understand it unless you’re deep in the rabbit hole. Put on Niall’s new album at a dinner party and everybody will enjoy it. Songs with meaning you can sing along with, what a concept!

And right now Spotify is dominated by hip-hop. Because those were the early adopters. And as you can see the joke is on the pooh-poohers, because it’s streaming that’s driving revenue. Will other genres make an impact?

That’s an interesting question.

Hip-hop has culture, never underestimate the story.

But Niall has 1D story.

And those fans know every word and sing along.

And come in droves.

There’ll be a shed tour next year, but demand far outstrips that. But if you want credibility, you’ve got to act in a credible way.

Think about this, as you were glued to the past streaming won.

Now, youngsters not burdened by your baggage are gonna reinvent the business with the building blocks of your youth and succeed.

What’s the problem?

THERE IS NONE!

A Spoonful of Sugar (Reprise)
Laura Michelle Kelly
A Spoonful of Sugar (Reprise)

Title: A Spoonful of Sugar (Reprise)
Artist: Laura Michelle Kelly
Album: Mary Poppins (Original London Cast Recording)

The stage version of Mary Poppins proved to be a bit divisive, but I adored it. I found it fittingly darker and more playful than the film, more akin to the books, but felt it still maintained the heart of the piece.

This is one of the most beautiful moments, taking place right as Mary Poppins is leaving the Banks family, satisfied with her work. After two acts of no-nonsense and little direct compassion, Mary Poppins finally lowers her guard and expresses a clear, heartfelt emotion: love.

Seconds later, like the changing winds, she’s gone.