Sunday, June 14, 2015

Original Production Cels of King Louie, Mowgli, and a Flunky Monkey from "The Jungle Book," 1967

Original hand painted production cels of King Louie, Mowgli, and a Flunky Monkey with palm frond from "The Jungle Book," 1967; Set on a lithographic background; Size - King Louie: 6 3/4" x 4", Mowgli: 4 1/4" x 3 3/4", Flunky Monkey: 6 1/2" x 3 1/2"; Cels 10 x 12"; Image 10" x 16"; Unframed.

King Louie is the king of all primates in the Indian jungle and craves nothing more than to be a man. He somehow learns that a Man-Cub (Mowgli) is in the jungle on his way to the Man Village. Louie sends his monkey minions to capture the boy, which they do bringing him to King Louie. Using the musical number "I Wanna Be Like You" and promising Mowgli that he will be able to stay in the jungle for as long as he wants; Louie asks him to reveal the secret to man's "Red Flower" (fire). This cel is from one of the most famous scenes in "The Jungle Book" film; King Louie (voiced by Louis Prima) singing "I Wanna Be Like You!"

King Louie is an original character from Walt Disney, as orangutans are not native to India (only the islands of Borneo and Sumatra in Indonesia). In addition, King Louie never existed in Rudyard Kipling's original novel and was likely named after his late voice actor, jazz singer Louis Prima. Before Louis Prima got the part, the iconic musician legend Louis Armstrong was first considered for the role. However, Prima got the role instead of Armstrong; possibly to avoid controversy that would surround casting an African American as an ape.

The Flunky Monkey (beautifully animated by Frank Thomas) is one of King Louie's monkey henchman that, while carrying a palm frond, tries to upstage King Louie (voiced by Louie Prima) during his performance of "I Wanna Be Like You."

Close up of the King Louie cel.

Wolfgang Reitherman began working for Walt Disney in 1934, along with future Disney legends Ward Kimball and Milt Kahl. Reitherman worked on various Disney feature films produced from 1937 to 1981, including "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (animating the Slave in the Magic Mirror) up to "The Fox and the Hound," where he was the co-producer. Beginning with 1961's "One Hundred and One Dalmatians," "Woolie", as he was called by friends, served as Disney's chief animation director. In addition to "101 Dalmatians," Reitherman directed "The Sword in the Stone" (1963), "The Jungle Book" (1967), "The Aristocats" (1970), "Robin Hood" (1973) and "The Rescuers" (1977).

Close up of the Flunky Monkey with palm frond cel.

One of Reitherman's productions, the 1968 short "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day," won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. In addition, all three of Reitherman's sons — Bruce, Richard, and Robert provided voices for Disney characters, including Mowgli in "The Jungle Book," Christopher Robin in "Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree," and Wart in "The Sword in the Stone." Not only did Bruce Reitherman provided the voice of Mowgli in "The Jungle Book," but he also acted out certain scenes as live action reference for the animators. The character of Mowgli was animated by quite a few animators, however Milt Kahl set the final design and the majority of Mowgli's scenes were animated by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston.

Close up of the Mowgli cel.

This is a wonderful three cel setup of King Louie, Mowgli - the Man Cub, and a King Louie Flunky Monkey who is carrying a palm frond. Louie is dancing during his performance of  "I Wanna Be Like You," and the image of Mowgli is full figure with his mouth and eyes open.