The King and I (1956)

the king and i poster 1956 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 8/10

Different story, good music, good cast

Wish they had managed not to use sets

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The King and I

Studio:  20th Century Fox

Genre(s):  Musical/Drama

Release Date(s):  June 28, 1956

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

the king and i anna getting to know you deborah kerr

Hey, I’m just getting to know you…getting to know all about you!

Widowed mother Anna Leonowens (Deborah Kerr) has taken a position in Bangkok working for King Mongkut (Yul Brynner).  King Mongkut wants Siam to be an educated country and respected around the world, and he sees Anna and education as a key.  For Anna, the ways of Siam seem odd and strange and educating the King’s Prince Chulalongkorn (Patrick Adiarte) could be as difficult to educate as his father.  Anna and the King seem like opposites but finding a common ground could be possible.

Directed by Walter Lang, The King and I is based on the 1951 Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway musical which was based on 1944 semi-biographical Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon.  The film won Academy Awards for Best Actor (Brynner), Best Art Direction-Set Decoration—Color, Best Costume Design—Color, Best Music Scoring, and Best Sound Recording with nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress (Kerr), Best Director, and Best Cinematography—Color.

the king and i shall we dance yul brynner deborah kerr

Shall we dance?

The idea of a woman travelling to the mysterious “Orient” (as it would have been known at the time) to work for a king is the perfect fodder for story.  The fact that aspects of the story are true makes it even better.  The story develops as you’d expect but unexpectedly doesn’t quite reach were you expect it to reach.

The movie is very much set up as a romance.  You have the king who believes he is always right and the woman butting heads with him to prove it isn’t always so.  The weirdness starts here.  The king is very open to suggestions and willing to learn and explore.  The characters do grow close and have a few “moments”, but the romance really never truly blossoms…and the king dies at the end.  It isn’t really what you’d expect if you didn’t know the story.

Deborah Kerr does come off as extremely likable.  She is outspoken but still comes off as nice because she’s willing to learn as well.  Yul Brynner however is the scene stealer.  Brynner really brings the king alive.  He plays it almost as a complete stereotype, but he doesn’t bring the character dimension…and his classic line “etc., etc., etc.” is always good for a laugh.

the king and i uncle toms cabin play

Wait…what is this play?

The movie doesn’t feel very big however.  It is shot nicely, but it is set based.  With such an exotic location, you almost wish that they had budgeted the money to travel for some of the shots, but at the time, movies just weren’t made that way.  Despite this, The King and I does make the most of what it does (plus the presentation of Uncle Tom’s Cabin looks different).

The King and I is a classic, and it has to be approached that way.  It might not have the snappiness of modern musicals or the grittiness of some of the darker musicals, but it still is a solid film.  You’ll find you’ll know the songs, the story, but it is still good, great, fun, etc., etc., etc.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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