Adopted from a 1953 manga by Osamu Tezuka (of Astro Boy fame), Alakazam the Great was one of the first releases by Toei Animation (Toei Animation had been established just three years before, in 1957, as part of Toei Productions). At the time, Toei Animation was geared to create feature-length movies, as is the case with Alakazam the Great, which was originally released in Japan in 1960 under the same title as the manga from which it came: Saiyu-ki. Though a hit with the Japanese crowd, crude translation made its American appearance less successful, primarily because of the removal of a lot of religious connotations that were an important part of the original story.
The story basically goes like this. The king of the monkeys becomes rather full of himself and decides to challenge Buddha. Now, this is something you do not do, and Buddha makes sure our monkey friend realizes this. However, Buddha is willing to forgive, and he tells the monkey king to go on a quest.
The story is based on ancient Chinese legends (as one may guess by now, they are the same ones that would become the basis for Dragon Ball 25 years later).