As mentioned in one of Nostalgia Critic's Disneycember reviews, it turns out there was another animated adaption of The Jungle Book.
Most people, whether or not they read the book, are familiar with the 1967 Disney film. That film is known to the public as the last animated movie produced by Walt Disney. The film is known by Disney fans for the creative license taken on the final film.
After passing on an earlier screenplay that was much more true to the source, Walt opted for a much brighter, livelier, more colorful version of the Rudyard Kipling story. He specifically told a team of seasoned writers NOT to follow the books. This new collaborative screenplay was much brighter, simpler, and traded some of the original characters for a series of lively songs, where Mowgli, rather than going to live in the mans' village, meets a parade of different animals while preferring to stay in the jungle where he was raised.
Walt Disney never saw the finished film, but The Jungle Book was not completed in vain. Premiering in October 1967, it was an immediate success, laced with nostalgia for Walt's legacy of animated features, and while Rudyard Kipling fans might not like it (as is such for many literary adaptions to movies), the film remains to this day a popular choice among cartoon fans.
About nine years later, Warner Brothers director Chuck Jones made his own version of The Jungle Book. This one was made for television, and was only thirty minutes long.
Part 1 [link]
Part 2 [link]
Chuck Jones was a huge fan of classic literature, using some in his independent films. In The Jungle Book, Jones stayed fairly close to the Kipling story, and those familiar with the Disney version can see an immediate contrast. This one, premiering in February 1976, was much more cerebral, stylized, and darker. Songs and a wider array of supporting characters were traded for a serious test of courage as Mowgli proves with worth to the wolf pack that raised him.
The 1970's is considered by many American cartoon fans a dark period for the medium. Many Golden Age artists were dying or retiring during that time. Most survivors were only finding long-term work in television, where they enjoyed less creative freedom than in previous years. Younger artists had to wait a while to try out their skills. Even Disney at the time was treading shallow waters with their movies after Walt Disney died.
But not all was gloomy. The best moments can be found in half-hour TV specials, which gave more room for experimentation than most regular series. Chuck Jones was involved in many projects in the years he was not working for Warner Bros. If he wasn't working on experimental TV specials, he was either helping younger artists launch their careers, or authoring his own comic strip. Those who may not enjoy Disney's Jungle Book might enjoy Chuck Jones' version. His period of independent versatility produced a very bold presentation that in itself is a rarity.