The King and I (1956) Other movies recommended for you
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Plot: Mrs. Anna Leonowens and her son Louis arrive in Bangkok, where she has been contracted to teach English to the children of the royal household. She threatens to leave when the house she had been promised is not available, but falls in love with the children. A new slave, a gift of a vassal king,… Runtime: 133 min Release Date: 29 Jun 1956
Having read most of the comments on this picture, I was astonished to see how little understood this classic musical is. Yes, it takes place in 19th century Siam, but it is a fairy tale Siam in the same sense as the fairy tale Paris in An American in Paris. It is not supposed to be a true representation of Asian life. Wake up, Folks! Its a Hollywood adaptation of a Broadway musical! Let's leave the realism to Phat and Foster.This picture, with its infectious score and dynamic performances, is one of the best of its genre. Who can fail to see the sexual tension between the two leads? Who <more>
can not marvel at the entrance of the royal children check out Brynner's different reaction to each child . How can one not applaud the fantastic House of Uncle Thomas performance at the diplomatic dinner. How can your heart not reel to Shall We Dance?This is old-line Hollywood at its very best, and may be the last truly great musical. Check your historical, racial, and PC hats at the door and don't miss it!
A magnificent, emotionally packed unusual love story (by mrussnow)
I originally saw THE KING AND I at the Roxy Theatre in New York when I was ten years old. My grandmother took me after a day trip to the Statue of Liberty, and I was expecting to see one of my favorites, Jan Clayton, the star of LASSIE, in the starring role.When the movie unfolded I was enraptured by the beautiful redhead playing the lead and realized it wasn't Miss Clayton whom I later learned had played in the road version of the show, and kids that age don't really know the difference . I went out into the theatre lobby and looked at the ornate program, which listed Mrs. Anna as <more>
Deborah Kerr.What an impression this woman has had on my life over the years from the retelling of the classic tale of the British woman who comes to Siam to teach the king's children. It is superb, not only musically, but from a story standpoint holds up as the best of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals. It is essentially a women's lib story, which makes it as relevant today as it was fifty years ago when it premiered on Broadway.The fiery, but compassionate Mrs. Anna who is at first turned off by the king and then charmed by him, and who little by little changes him from a near-despot to a man who can grow.The subplots are fanciful, but lovely and, in the ballet of Uncle Tom, as performed by Tuptim draw a direct analogy to the unpleasant lives endured by Siamese slaves, in particular women. It does so with majesty and intelligence, no less so than Arthur Miller did in "The Crucible," contrasting the Salem Witch Trials with the awful McCarthy political witchhunts on Capitol Hill.It is an extraordinary achievement, and it is shocking that it did not even make the top 100 AFI films a year ago. It is continually fresh and alive, and every time there is a festival or re-release it does well. Indeed, a few years ago it was shown on a huge screen at The Hollywood Bowl, with orchestral accompaniment, and it was a smash again.My only regret is that Deborah Kerr six times nominated for an Oscar was not gifted with an Academy Award along with her co-star Yul Brynner.It is a film that should be seen for generations to come.
Brynner is irresistible and seductive, a towering figure as the king... (by Nazi_Fighter_David)
In the Golden Age of musical movies, Rodgers and Hammerstein took three looks at the clashes of Eastern and Western cultures: Joshua Logan's "South Pacific," Henry Koster's "Flower Drum Song" and "The King and I."'The King and I' derived from Margaret Landon's fascinating novel 'Anna and the King of Siam.' The film concerns a genteel British governess who, with a son of her own, journeys from England to 19th century Siam now Thailand to instruct the king's many children, in the ways of the West... Upon her arrival in 1862, the <more>
uptight widow immediately clashes with the powerful ruler over his refusal to give her 'a brick residence' of her own outside the walls of the palace as had been promised... As the film progresses, and in a world where women had basically no rights, the 'very difficult' governess learns to temper her outrage at the Siamese court and its treatment of women.. And while she was admiring the king's personality and brilliant mind, she quickly discovered that the major challenge facing her is much more in the education of the volatile king than of his cute family... Despite his open-mindedness about other cultures, the proud bald king was besieged by both colonial powers and Siamese traditionalists... At least in private, he consults Anna on how to handle the threats against Siam from England, Burma, and France... He turns a deaf ear to her complaints about having to live in the royal palace, and fascinated by science and geography.. he gives 'a puzzlement,' the proper mixture of arrogance, wonder, and confusion...In this historical account of conflicting cultures and sexual mores, we watch two people of very different backgrounds drawing apart and then together, culminating in that most moving and triumphant of moments, when they dance together for the first time... The image of Anna is swept 'high up' by the king as they whirl across the palace floor... His bare feet seductively touching lightly the edge of her satin gown... When the king tells Anna that something is not correct with the way they are dancing, and extends his right hand to place it around her waist, it's the climax of a romantic love that never ignites...This good-hearted story, enriched by some of Rodgers and Hammerstein's most enduring tunes, permits the meeting of two polar cultures explored with wit and humor... It permits us also to enter into the complex mind of a stubborn king, stern and imperious, whose words and whims become the law of Siam.. . But the king is graceful, comic and virile... And into the feelings of an intelligent woman equally-stubborn, intrigued, and deeply irritated by a man, that quickly found she was also instructing him in the niceties of dancing and dining...Brynner is irresistible and seductive, a towering figure as the king... He is blessed with a resonant baritone voice, both for speaking and singing... His stance, fierce, and magnetic eyes denoting a royal leader who cannot be questioned or denied have an optimum vision and an inquisitiveness that reflect an agile mind as well as a vulnerable heart... He is humorous without imagining it, particularly when receiving the bows of his adorable children... Like Yul Brynner, Kerr radiates charisma, and the two work well together... From their first meeting to their last tearful parting, the give and take of their relationship provides the performance its emotional spark... The supporting cast is also strong...Rita Moreno is Tuptim's ill-fated lover who criticizes the system of slavery and concubinage and voices her desire to be free; Carlos Rivas carries his role comfortably as her Burmese beau, Lun Tha; Terry Saunders arouses Anna's sympathy for Tuptim by explaining that she and Lun Tha are deeply in love; Martin Benson plays Kralahome, the King's right hand man; Patrick Adiarte brings tears to our eyes and pride to our hearts in his far-seeing strength of character necessary to bring the film to a triumphant finish...Graced with a rich and singularly beautiful score, and skillfully directed by Walter Lang, 'The King and I' was nominated for nine Academy Awards... It received five, including the Best Actor Award to Brynner... The sets and scenery are gorgeous, and Lang did everything to convey its grandeur... You'll certainly love the impressive procession "March of the Royal Siamese Children" when the king summons his sixty-seven children to meet their delicate schoolteacher...Under Lang's direction, 'The King and I' proves to be the best of the Rodgers and Hammerstein adaptations, for reasons that involve East-meets-West flirtation, racism and authoritarianism, pageantry and spectacle, female determination coming up against vanity, civilization against barbarism, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera...
The King and I has been my favorite Rodgers&Hammerstein show for many years. I love the score and the only real criticism I have of this film version is that it did not contain the entire score from the Broadway show. It also did not contain the magical performance of Gertrude Lawrence in her final role. But that was beyond the scope of 20th Century Fox and Darryl Zanuck.The versions of The King and I that we usually see performed give emphasis to the role of the King. As Gertrude Lawrence was dying in 1952 she made a deathbed request that the billing on the show be changed and that Yul <more>
Brynner be given top billing instead of whatever female would be replacing Lawrence as Anna Leonowens. That was done and it has remained so ever since.The role of King Mongkut of Siam became like Dracula was for Bela Lugosi, a part that no matter what else he did, Yul Brynner couldn't escape from. The air of authority he establishes as the King holds you and binds you to every move he makes in the part. I'm told that as good as this screen version is, to see him on stage was the real deal. The critical acclaim he got from the Broadway run no doubt led to him winning an Oscar as Best Actor for 1956.Standing in for Gertrude Lawrence quite ably is Deborah Kerr who got one of her several nominations for Best Actress for this film. Unfortunately her voice is dubbed by that well known vocal stand-in Marni Nixon as is Rita Moreno as Tuptim and Carlos Rivas as Lun Tha the second romantic leads. The part does call more for an actress than a singer. Gertrude Lawrence was the very best of both.So many popular standards come from this score, more than any other score Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, II wrote. From philosophical tunes like Getting to Know You and I Whistle a Happy Tune and such romantic ballads as Hello Young Lovers, We Kiss in a Shadow, Something Wonderful and Shall We Dance will be done forever. Somewhere now on planet earth there is some theatrical company doing the King and I and performing these great songs. You can't also forget those that didn't make the cut here like I Have Dreamed and My Lord and Master.The most interesting song that Dick and Oscar wrote is the solo for the King, A Puzzlement. It's very similar to the Soliliquy in Carousel where the song explains all the character motivations of Billy Bigelow. King Mongkut, a very real historic figure who wanted very much to move his country into the modern era, but his entire upbringing fights against his desire. A Puzzlement is a wonderful number that goes into the problems of governing and not just for monarchies. Listen to Hammerstein's lyrics, they are very much relevant today.I visited Thailand in 1999 and learned a great deal about the country in those two days. King Mongkut's descendants rule today as constitutional and beloved monarchs. In fact this film which probably did more to encourage tourism to Thailand than anything else is banned in that country. Because it shows the king in what the Thais feel as an irreverent light. It is indeed a puzzlement.The film has preserved forever one of the great Broadway shows of all time forevermore. Reason enough to see it and whistle its happy tunes.
Absolutely Enchanting: Perhaps the Best of Rogers and Hammerstein On Film (by gftbiloxi)
THE KING AND I has a remarkably convoluted history. Anna Leonowens 1831-1915 was indeed a real person who did indeed teach in the royal court of Siam. She did not allow fact to get in the way of a good story; while her memoirs were extremely popular, they were also fictionalized. They became further so in 1944, when novelist Margaret Langdon retold the story in the novel ANNA AND THE KING; a play and film, the latter with Irene Dunne and Rex Harrison, soon followed and proved popular as well. According to theatre lore, actress Gertrude Lawrence, one of the great talents of her era, <more>
encountered the material and recommended it to Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein with the thought that she herself might play Anna in a musical version.Opening on Broadway in 1951 with Lawrence in the lead, it proved a tremendous success. Sadly, Lawrence did not live to recreate the role for the screen; she died of cancer during the New York run. After much indecision and not a little argument, the role fell to Deborah Kerr--a memorable actress--but one whose singing voice was hardly up to the role. In consequence the songs were voiced by the ubiquitous Marnie Nixon, a performer who specialized in this work throughout the 1950s and 1960s.As a film, THE KING AND I belongs to a period during which Hollywood tended to approach musicals from a theatrical rather than a cinematic point of view: there is no pretense that we are any where but on a sound stage and the camera itself seldom moves, creating an effect that is very much like that a performance given on a proscenium stage. It is a style which has not aged well--but THE KING AND I is the exception that proves the rule: with outrageously colorful sets, brilliant costuming, memorable music, and remarkable performances it remains as enchanting as it was when it first debuted in 1956.It is also distinctly of its era in terms of casting. Voice aside, Deborah Kerr was a natural choice for the role of Anna; she too was a cultured Englishwoman. But although minor roles were generally played by people of Asian origin, none of the leads and few of the major supporting roles were. Yul Brennar was of Russian origin; Rita Moreno was Puerto Rican and, like Kerr, her singing voice would be dubbed ; Martin Benson Kralahome was English; Carlos Rivera Lun Thai was Mexican-American; and so on. Such would be quite unthinkable today, but there is no getting around the fact that all these performers give performances which are not only credible, but often extraordinary--with Brennar and Moreno cases in point.Regardless of who, what, why, and how, the end result is enchanting from start to finish, the sort of musical that is stamped as "a special event" from start to finish. Everything glitters; the music is among the best created by Rogers and Hammerstein; the larger-than-life performances are spot-on. The story itself is both endearing and touching--and, as is often the case with Rogers and Hammerstein, makes an oblique statement against racial prejudice. While it may not be good history the story so annoys the Thailand government that it is banned from that nation in all its many incarnations , it is delightful entertainment... and, in my opinion at least, the best of the Rogers and Hammerstein musicals both on the stage and on the screen.GFT, Amazon Reviewer
Brynner and Kerr create Cinema Magic in one of the Greatest Musicals to come to the Screen (by Isaac5855)
The 1956 film version of THE KING & I was one of the most lavish and enchanting film versions of a Rodgers & Hammerstein musical ever made. Based on a book by Margaret Landon and a 1946 film starring Rex Harrison and Irene Dunne, this is the story of a widowed schoolteacher during 1860's who accepts the position of teacher to a tyrannical King in primitive Siam that leads to the ultimate culture clash/battle of the sexes, set to some really lovely music. Yul Brynner recreates his original Broadway role as the King in an electrifying, Oscar-winning performance that made Brynner an <more>
instant film icon who will forever be associated with the role and the gold standard to which all other actors who tackle the role aspire to. Deborah Kerr makes a lovely Anna Leonowens who, even though her singing is dubbed by Marni Nixon, still delivers a charismatic performance as the strong-willed Anna that also earned her an Oscar nomination. The chemistry between Brynner and Kerr is immediate and obvious and they absolutely light up the screen together in the most romantic non-romantic relationship ever portrayed on screen. A young Rita Moreno also makes a strong impression as the slave girl, Tuptim, whose best song, "My Lord and Master", has been cut from most versions of this film. But we still have "Whistle a Happy Tune:. "Hello Young Lovers", "We Kiss in a Shadow", "Getting to Know You", "A Puzzlement", and "March of the Siamese Children." There is also an extraordinary ballet entitled "The Small House of Uncle Thomas" which merits attention. Lavish scenery and Oscar-winning costumes are icing on the cake in one the most emotion-charged and moving screen adaptations of a Broadway musical to the movie screen. They don't make 'em like this anymore.
"The King and I" was a personal triumph for Yul Brynner and Gertrude Lawrence when the musical made its debut on Broadway. The king of the story seemed to be tailor-made for Mr. Brynner, who made it his signature role and returned with it to the musical theater, again and again. As captured in film, directed by Walter Lang, "The King and I" is quite a splendid showcase for Mr. Brynner. Since Ms. Lawrence was not chosen to repeat the role of Anna that she created on the stage, her substitute was Deborah Kerr, an immensely talented actress who was a delight in any of the <more>
films she graced with her talent and charm.As a spectacle, this movie is full of exotic colors of what Hollywood thought Siam would look like in the years where the story takes place. The film works as well because of the charismatic performance of Yul Brynner and the terrific chemistry he and Ms. Kerr projected in the film.All the elements of a Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical are in place. The music serves the story being told. "The King and I" will charm its viewers because of the amazing impact Yul Brynner made in it.
Wonderful, glorious colour and Brynner in his finest hour. (by wisewebwoman)
Brynner is so strongly identified with this role that it is difficult to remember him in anything else. He gives his all in this performance, sometimes way over the top, but it fits with this movie which is in itself over the top, offering us the Hollywood version of Siam and introducing 1955 sensibilities to the era of 1862. No matter.The musical numbers are great and hummable, most done by Marni Nixon, who dubbed for so many in that era of endless musicals and no-voice stars.People who protest about the insensibility and racial aspect of these musicals Showboat and South Pacific, etc. also <more>
comes to mind don't get it - that this is a musical, composed about an unenlightened era and is not a documentary and cannot be taken seriously.The play within the play is truly magical, I could watch it over and over again, it is a perfect little opera.Deborah Kerr is terrific in this and should have received an Oscar. I felt sorry for the boy who played her son - I think they appeared again together in Tea and Sympathy, but I could be wrong - there was not much to his role, he had to stand around and just be pretty and nod at his mother a lot. Very difficult. Rita Moreno excelled as usual.8 out of 10. Not to be missed.
Brynner's masterful performance is the film's high point (by funkyfry)
The wonderful performance of Yul Brynner is definitely the high point of this film adaption of Rodgers and Hammerstein's play. The production is very impressive, with a fully fleshed out technicolor Siam practically bursting out of the screen. Deborah Kerr's costumes alone are just about worth the price of admission. The only thing bringing the film down somewhat is the fact that the film occasionally feels patronizing towards Asian culture and the sometimes deliberately infantile lyrics of Oscar Hammerstein, excellent in some places as far as characterization but in other places <more>
again seeming to reinforce the film's patronizing attitude towards its characters and audience? .Brynner's performance ranks among the very best in the history of musical film. It's important that we do not see him sing or dance right away, and in fact he waits until some of the film's final scenes to actually bust out on the dance floor. When he and Kerr go into "Shall We Dance?" and he is practically sprinting around the dance floor barefoot, I'm sure many in the audience literally drop their jaws. In general, we can say that Brynner's performance managed to capture both the menace, dignity, and authority of the King, while at the same time he was able to wring buckets of humor from the premise of the King's attitudes about women and society in general without compromising that dignity. That alone is a great achievement, but Brynner also manages to give the character great warmth and charm, making him a very appealing character to the audience and almost making us feel that his many transgressions are just minor details in his overall makeup. Simply astounding work.Kerr is decent, actually quite good through most of the film until it comes to the point where she has to be completely angry at the King because he would not let one of his wives escape with her lover . Then it seems like the work she's done to give this character equal dignity and almost equal authority with Brynner's King seems to collapse and we're left with the impression that she's a bit silly, especially as she tells the Prime Minister Carlos Rivas "I wish I had never come to Siam!" and runs off crying. We have the same problem here dramatically speaking, though to a lesser extent, that we have in "South Pacific" when Nellie decides she can't love the frenchman because he has native children. This doesn't have those racial problems, but it's equally unconvincing really as a dramatic stimulus, making us feel that the primary character has somehow failed to learn what we the audience have learned just through watching them go through their travails! I also feel that the ending in general was a bit rushed. We have Anna going off in a pout crying, and then in the very next scene not only is she leaving Siam but we hear the King of Siam is dying. All very abrupt and feels a bit forced, as if the King had to go onto his deathbed just to wrap the film up.As far as the humor in the King's character, although I admire the way Brynner was able to pull off all these elements, there were times when I personally felt uncomfortable to laugh at the King... something I did not feel when I saw this film as a young child in the early 80s. I guess you can say I'm more "racially conscious", but it seemed to me that they were at times encouraging the audience to laugh at the King and even at his court simply because of how "backward" they were. For instance here we have a King who seems to have a good command of English but who mispronounces a word or skips a word in the sentence if it will make the crowd in America laugh. Not that I think the King should have spoken like an English professor, but I'm convinced that there were moments where I and most modern audiences would cringe where the film's and play's creators would have wanted us to laugh.I didn't want these comments to pass without giving notice and praise to the "Little House of Uncle Thomas" vignette designed by Jerome Robbins I presume and which also shows some really amazing camera work. The effects here are very cinematic but it's done in such a way that you can believe that the things you're seeing could actually have been done in the 1860s when the film was set. Really excellent work on that portion of the film.Hammerstein's lyrics do not in my opinion rise to the level of Rodgers' music. The patter songs that Brynner does like "A Puzzlement" are wonderful, but there are just too many songs on here that feel like an imposition of warm family vibes on the story. That's Hammerstein's MO: create supremely dramatic situations and surround them with songs that wouldn't be out of place in a nursery school. Things like "Hello, Young Lovers", "Getting to Know You" and "I Whistle a Happy Tune" make this musicals fan wish for the days of Rodgers and Hart when Rodgers' music could be funny without being so darn clean and family friendly. "Something Wonderful" is a technically superb song that is completely un-memorable, an example of where Rodgers tried to imitate Kern's style to suit Hammerstein's ambitions. But the duo do make it up to us somewhat with the superb "Shall We Dance" and Rodgers' solo contributions like "March of the Siamese Children".All in all, this is a very solid musical entertainment. Because of Brynner's performance it is a true classic for all the ages. There is enough good here overall to outweigh the bad. This is one that people will be talking about many years after we are all gone. But it's not a perfect film.