This very loose adaptation of Kipling was the very first Disney animation project after the passing of Walt Disney in 1966
The strength of the film is two fantastic songs and some of the vocal talent involved. The Bare Necessities (which really became the blueprint for Hakuna Matata- they even both find food under a rock)- was written by Terry Gilkyson and performed by Phil Harris. I Wanna Be Like You was by Richard and Robert Sherman (from Mary Poppins) back with Phil Harris performing again and this time a duo with Louis Prima. These two songs come within about 10 minutes of each other.
Harris is just magnificent as Baloo the Bear. When he shows up the film just elevates a level or two. Disney would bring him back for the voice of Little John in 1973’s animated adaptation of Robin Hood. Someone may correct me but in 1967 using bigger named actors weren’t in vogue like they would be today (I believe 1994’s The Lion King probably sets this as the standard for this being the norm– though it had happened occasionally before). Anyways, George Sanders (here as Shere Khan) has a recognizable voice to just about everyone in 1967. Needless to say, he is perfect here.
Nice a nice little Claude Rains and Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca-like walking off together ending with Baloo and Bagheera
The film is a recommend- it doesn’t touch the top echelon of films in 1967
You’re absolutely right. Having well established and recognisable actors voicing Disney characters wasn’t really a thing until the 90’s. The Lion King was the first one with something of an all star cast (not just Jeremy Irons -though he’s surely and justifiably the one that resonates most, but Rowan Atkinson as well). But the first time it happened in general was in 1992 with Aladdin. I think the genie as a character was specifically created for Robin Williams, impressions and all. I believe you put up a review for Aladdin anyway and you pointed it out yourself. It was such a success it became common practice since.
@Georg- right, but I don’t know if I could name the other members of the cast from Aladdin, right? I know just about every voice from The Lion King (you mention two but there’s Whoopi Goldberg, James Earl Jones, Matthew Broderick, Jonathan Taylor Thomas was a big TV name at the time, etc) and I think (with Toy Story the next year) that’s when it became the norm. I could be wrong. Like look at the cast for The Last Unicorn https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084237/ Bridges, Arkin, Mia Farrow– but that’s that wasn’t any sort of sea change to that becoming the norm. Like I know Angela Lansbury in Beauty and the Beast (like Robin Williams in Aladdin)- but that’s really it.
@Drake – oh yes you’re right I forgot about Whoopi and James Earl Jones as well. Matthew Broderick, yes you’re definitely right. I think clearly in Aladdin Robin Williams was the only voice you could put a face to, and it definitely became a practice in later films. What I was saying is that the tendency to hire such recognisable actors came about due to the instant iconic status that Robin Williams’ casting achieved. Or at least that’s my impression in the sense that there was a two year gap between Aladdin and the Lion King. I believe they must have seen how big and successful a move that was and taken it to the next level. And ditto for Angela Lansbury in Beauty and the Beast – she was really wonderful and I completely forgot about her. The Lion King was surely the first one where they went all the way with the casting. The Hunchback of Notre dame that followed was pretty much in the same vein, I’d say.
Also, and it is not a Disney film, Shrek picked up on the trend, to the degree where it just felt as if the entire franchise was name dropping actors. Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, John Cleese (I think), Julie Andrews, Jennifer Saunders, and more I probably forgot.