Jungle Book (1942) starring Sabu, Joseph Calleia, John Qualen, Frank Puglia, Rosemary DeCamp, Patricia O'Rourke, Ralph Byrd, John Mather directed by Zoltan Korda Movie Review

Jungle Book (1942)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Sabu in Jungle Book (1942)

Sabu of the Jungle

Having been raised in the jungle by the wild animals Mowgli (Sabu) ends up captured by villagers who return him to their village where unknowingly he is placed with his real mum, Messua (Rosemary DeCamp), to be looked after. But not everyone is keen with Mowgli being in the village despite his best attempts to learn their ways as Buldeo (Joseph Calleia) is opposed to his presence especially when Mowgli strikes up a friendship with his daughter Mahala (Patricia O'Rourke). Not only does Buldeo try to convince the villagers that Mowgli is a witch when he thinks he sees him shape shift into a wild animal in the jungle but tries to force him to show him where a secret treasure is hidden. It not only leads to treachery but also danger for the village when one man tries to set fire to the jungle putting people's and animal's lives at risk.

Watching the "Jungle Book", the 1942 version which involved all three of the Korda brothers, now is quite hard because frankly like so many movies of their time it is incredibly dated. But try and put yourself in the place of audiences in 1942 and you might be impressed by the sets, the colour and especially the close up shots of wild animals such as tigers. It is hard to appreciate how much this movie would have impressed to the point it received no less than 4 Oscar nominations.

Rosemary DeCamp and Sabu in Jungle Book (1942)

Now whilst it is hard to appreciate the effect that "Jungle Book" had on audiences there is still a certain amount of charm about it and the actual storyline is entertaining. It won't come as a surprise to regular visitors to The Movie Scene when I say I have never read Rudyard Kipling's original story and my knowledge of it is through Disney's popular animated version. As such I can't say whether it stays true to Kipling's original story and on my knowledge almost feels like a sequel as we see the further adventures of Mowgli when he returns to civilizations. As such we witness him make friends, tries to fit in but of course has to deal with those who are scared of him because he is different.

The thing about "Jungle Book" is after the set up which sees Mowgli's return to the village it becomes a little episodic as we see an adventure into the jungle, we see Buldeo try to have him killed and a few others before eventually things spiral out of control and both the village and jungle end up in danger of a fire. It lacks the flow which would have made it more epic rather than a thrown together movie which visually hits above its weight.

Even though "Jungle Book" is now dated and hard to appreciate the one thing which is still so easy to appreciate is Sabu who was an amazing young actor. He is so perfect for the role of Mowgli as he has the athleticism to pull off the jungle boy and watching him leap through a widow over a series of steps and land is impressive and not something many actors would have done. But he also has this charm about him which immediately lets us warm to this naive young man with a good heart.

What this all boils down to is that it is hard to fully appreciate "Jungle Book" as now it seems dated where I am sure it was impressive when it came out in 1942. But it is still entertaining with Sabu leading the way with a charming performance.