Thursday, August 14, 2008

Chuck Jones' "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" (1975)

To give a better example of Chuck Jones' later work than the aforementioned "Father of the Bird" or "From Hare To Eternity", I'd like y'all (yes, I'm a Texan, I can say 'y'all') to check this out. This TV special from 1975 was independently produced by Chuck Jones. It has nothing to do with Looney Tunes, but I consider it one of Chuck Jones' finest works. To call it a "cult classic" may be a stretch, it's more of a "classic nobody ever talks about".

Chuck Jones loved literature, written for both children and adults. In the 1960's and 70's he did several animated adaptations of stories by the likes of Theodore "Dr. Seuss" Geisel ("The Grinch, "Horton Hears a Who"), Rudyard Kipling (this piece and a few others) Charles Dickens ("A Christmas Carol") George Selden ("The Cricket in Times Square") and Norton Juster ("The Phantom Tollbooth"). I'm not sure if he ever tackled Mark Twain, whom he constantly cited as a source of inspiration, but I digress.

Some of these specials were wonderful, others were surprisingly boring. But I'd rank this one, "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi", right up there with with his Seuss adaptations as the best of the lot. I'll warn you...it's faithful to Kipling's dark story, so if you are looking for something like Daffy Duck or Road Runner, you may be surprised by this. Enjoy the wonderful animation, and the narration by Orson Welles, and experience the "serious side" of one Charles M. "Chuck" Jones.





6 comments:

toonhead-npl said...

Thanks! I had forgotten how much I liked this as a kid. (And how unfortunately brassy the music was, and how things moved a little too fast at the end, but I digress.) I always liked cartoons with nonsaccharine subject matters because they made me feel like I wasn't being treated as a little kid.

I'd put A Cricket in Times Square up there as well as a Jones favorite.

And that twitchy furry tail bit of Chuck's NEVER gets old. :)

J Lee said...

In a way, this was part of the 1970s Looney Tunes revivals, since Jones' Kipling adaptions came at roughly the same time CBS was also commissioning him to do the "Carnival of the Animals" special, followed by the "Connecticut Rabbit..." special based on Twain's book. He basically got the green light to do Mowgli's Brothers, Rikki-Tiki-Tavi and The White Seal in large part because he also was able to give the network the duck and the rabbit, at a time when people like Action for Children's Television were really breathing down the networks' necks about doing educational projects for kids. Jones was able to deliver that, even if the ratings weren't high, and was able to work with the Warners characters CBS knew would draw viewers.

JBWarner86 said...

I remember my 7th grade class read this story, and we watched this special as a companion piece to it. I think I might have been the only one in the class who recognized it as the work of one Mr. Jones.

TheSpoots said...

I own this movie. It was one of my favorites of his when I was a kid, along with The White Seal. The artwork in it is SO Chuck. It's like his portait sketches come to life.

Glowworm said...

I got to watch this special back in seventh grade due to us reading the story as well.Unfortunately I never got to see the ending due to our English class being the last period of the day and the bell rang before the climatic showdown between Nagaina and Rikki could be finished. That and I had to catch the bus. For some reason we weren't shown those last few minutes the next class.


I don't remember whether I realized that it was created by Chuck Jones-but I immensely enjoyed it-and of course Jones was a master of creating adorable,endearing characters and Rikki was both of those!

Mufassa said...

I also remember this It is avali8ble on dvd from amazon

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