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When he was an infant, his father was killed by mighty tiger Shere
Khan, and he wandered the jungle alone until he was picked up by wolves
who raised them as one of their own. Now Mowgli (Sabu) is 12 years old and
on the run because Shere Khan has come back to his part of the jungle, and
Shere Khan likes to kill humans. Eventually, Mowgli stumbles upon a human
village, and Messua (Rosemary DeCamp), his real-life mother vaguely
recognizing him, takes him in to teach him how to be a human.
soon becomes good friends with Mahala (Patricia O'Rourke), the daughter of
shady hunter Buldeo (Joseph Calleia), much to the dismay of Buldeo himself, who
thinks the boy of the jungle is a threat - until of course he learns that
Mowgli knows the location of the vast jungle treasure of the lost city
Mowgli is only remotely interested in the treasure though and more
in fighting Shere Khan, and he thinks he's got a chance too, since in the
man-village he has bought a knife, which improves his chances of course.
And when the two of them have their showdown, Mowgli lures the tiger into
a nearby river, soemthing Shere Khan just can't stand, which gives the boy
all the advantage he needs to kill the tiger.
Somehow, Buldeo tricks
Mowgli into leading him and his two cronies (John Qualen, Frank Puglia) to
the lost city and its treasure, but all the wealth they find doesn't make
them happy, as they soon start to try to kill one another, nd in the end,
only Buldeo survives, but he's hardly able to escape the treasure cave
with his life, let alone any fortune.
Back in the village, Buldeo
accuses Mowgli of witchery, and after Mowgli manages to make an escape, he
has his mother tied up and made ready to be burned. But actually, Buldeo
is so maddened he sets fire to the jungle itself, and when the wind turns,
the resulting forest fire threatens the village, and everybody has to
flee, everybody but mowgli's mother, who's left behind tied up.
Fortunately, Mowgli's still around, and while most of the villagers have
taken refuge at a spot that's sure to be destroyed by the fire before
long, Mowgli, helped by his friends, the elephants, brings his mother,
Mahala and a handful of other villagers to an island that will be safe
from the forest fire. The villagers invite Mowgli to stay with them, but
after all that has happened, Mowgli turns down their offer and prefers to
live in the jungle like an animal - and can you blame him?
impressive big-budget technicolor rendition of Kipling's Jungle Book
that features sets - the jungle as well as the lost city (which is
somewhat reminiscent of Angkor Vat) - that are nothing short of amazing
even from today's point of view, with the forest fire destroying them in
the finale looking especially good. This all however cannot hide the fact
that the film is not too well-paced, the script lacks as much stringency
as the characters lack depth. All that said, the film is still definitely
worth a look for its looks alone, just don't expect the film perfect in
every possible way.