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Jungle Book

06 Jun

Jungle Book — directed by Zoltan Korda. Adventure. 106 minutes Color 1942

5-Star Movie

The Story: A wild child raised in the jungle by wolves is captured by townsfolk and inspires the enmity of villains and a mean tiger
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Sabu is one of the great film stars — determined as an eagle, agile, beautiful, and free. Film fans would not see his ebullience again until the arrival of Dev Patel.

Sabu’s father was an elephant wrangler or mahout in India when Robert Flaherty came to film his documentary in Mysore. There Sabu was discovered and became the star of Elephant Boy. He was soon brought to England, and then to America. There he is Mowgli. See him. He is one of a kind — beautiful to behold— vivacious, delightful to watch — never off key.

Of course, Jungle Book is Kipling’s story, and the Korda brothers did not spare the horses. Or any of the other animals, some of which are not to be found in India at all.

But never mind that. The great Lee Garmes who filmed Gone With the Wind shot it, and it is a glory to behold. He filmed the many animals Sabu has to talk to and ride in shots I have never seen equaled for their beauty, intimacy, and daring. The black leopards, tigers, buffalos, elephants, reptiles, and monkeys, carry the film, as does Sabu himself, who flies through the trees, swims through the crocodiles, and talks to the cobra with spotless ease.

If you have never seen Sabu, don’t hold back. He’s way up there in the great of the Hollywood heyday, unselfconsciously charming, special, and infectious.

As to the movie, it was up for 4 Academy Awards: Set decoration (No one could generate a Buddhist temple treasure trove better than Hollywood. For what other place possessed the confidence that excess requires?) Visual Effects, Cinemaphotography, and Miklos Rosza’s score.

It’s a technicolor treasure. One is just dazzled by its brilliance. It’s good film to see with the whole family. Or with anyone at all. Or by yourself, as I did yesterday. Or at the Bayside Movie Theatre, Long Island, Queens, when I was nine.

 
 
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