The Jungle Book isn't always faithful to the Rudyard Kipling original (in fact, it seldom is), but 1942 audiences swept up in the grandeur of the production values and the lush Technicolor photography didn't mind at all. Indian juvenile-star Sabu plays Mowgli, who having been lost in the jungle as an infant has been raised by wolves. While he has no trouble conversing with his animal neighbors (whose voices aren't as ludicrous as you might think, though we never imagined that a snake could sound like Lionel Barrymore), Mowgli yearns to touch base with his human roots; thus, he returns to the native village whence he came. With the help of his jungle companions, Mowgli rescues his adoptive family, his natural mother (Rosemary DeCamp) and the rest of the humans from the greedy machinations of villains Joseph Calleia, John Qualen and Frank Puglia. Adapted for the screen by Lawrence Stallings and co-directed by Zoltan Korda and Andre De Toth, The Jungle Book scored a significant hit for its distributor United Artists, who really needed a smash at this point in time. The film would be remade (so to speak) as a Disney animated feature in 1967, and again as a live-actioner (with "politically correct" British villains) in 1994.
by Hal Erickson synopsis