For Reel

The Jungle Book (1942)
March 25, 2011, 5:49 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Zoltan Korda

Twenty-five years prior to Disney’s animated musical based on the classic Rudyard Kipling novel, Sabu starred in the Korda brothers’ live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book. The picture is an imaginative joy, even if the narrative takes a backseat to all of the technical marvels. With innumerable exotic beasts and the hidden treasures of a colossal lost city, as a spectacle the film is somewhat akin to the Alexander Korda produced remake of The Thief of Bagdad. It is clear that much of the appeal was simply in seeing the film’s creatures in technicolor – the first fifteen minutes or so of the picture might as well be a nature documentary – but the jungle itself continues to impress with its convincingly detailed terrain. Sabu’s Mowgli is a charismatic hero with an affable blend of naivety and resourcefulness, and as the human villain and narrator Joseph Calleia is an intimidating but ultimately cowardly foe. Enjoyable as escapist fare, The Jungle Book is not quite as enchanting as The Thief of Bagdad, but nonetheless it is impressive due to its lavish production achievements.

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