(out of 5)
Rudyard Kipling’s most popular story, frequently adapted to film, has its richest and most enjoyable treatment in this wonderful adventure by Zoltan Korda. Sabu is a delight as Mowgli, the boy raised by wolves after his father is attacked by the evil tiger Shere Khan and he is separated from his broken-hearted mother. As an adolescent he is reintroduced to his village, unrecognized by his mother who adopts him without knowing his origins, and befriended by the lovely Mahala. The conflict between harmony with the natural world and human ignorance of their surroundings is felt in the character of the intolerant Buldeo, Mahala’s father and the one member of the village who refuses to accept Mowgli as human, but also wants to use him to find the hidden treasures of a mythical palace in the heart of the jungle. White actors in brown face is the only (and not small) drawback to what is otherwise a richly beautiful, gorgeously shot adventure, chock full of terrific scenes of animal performances and a stunning sense of time and place (particularly considering that California is doubling for India here). A worthy companion to the team’s earlier, outstanding effort The Thief of Bagdad.
Produced by Alexander Korda
Music by Miklos Rozsa
Production Design by Vincent Korda
Costume Design by Eugene Joseff
Film Editing by William Hornbeck