The King and I


Action / Biography / Drama / Musical / Romance

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 96%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 83%
IMDb Rating 7.5 10 20880


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July 20, 2014 at 09:56 PM



Yul Brynner as King Mongkut of Siam
Rita Moreno as Tuptim
Deborah Kerr as Anna Leonowens
Marni Nixon as Playback vocalist for Deborah Kerr
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
875.16 MB
23.976 fps
2hr 13 min
P/S 2 / 14
1.95 GB
23.976 fps
2hr 13 min
P/S 6 / 28

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by mattkratz 9 / 10

movie making at its best

This is truly a classic! You will love this movie for its songs, Yul Brynner's performance, and just about everything else. It basically features a schoolteacher from Wales who goes to Bangkok with her schoolchildren and interacts with the king there, finding love on the way. All the songs are great, the cast is great, the chemistry among the performers is first rate, and basically everything is perfect. If you are into classic movies, musicals, classic actors, and everything about great movies, give this marvelous movie a try. The interactions between Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner make it work all the way through!

*** out of ****

Reviewed by JohnHowardReid 9 / 10

Almost the best musical!

Deleted songs: "My Lord and Master" (Moreno dubbed by Leona Gordon), "Shall I Tell You What I Think of You?" (Kerr dubbed by Marni Nixon), "I Have Dreamed" (Moreno dubbed by Leona Gordon, Rivas), "Western People Funny". Except for the last-named, all these song numbers were shot and recorded — indeed they appear on the official movie sound track album.

Copyright June 1956 by 20th Century-Fox Film Corp. New York opening at the Roxy: 28 June 1956. U.S. release: July 1956. U.K. release: 8 October 1956. London opening at the Carlton Haymarket. Australian release: 13 December 1956. Sydney opening at the Regent. 11,982 feet. 133 minutes.

SYNOPSIS: A British widow journeys to 1862 Bangkok to take up a position as governess to the king's children.

NOTES: A re-make of Fox's 1946 film "Anna and the King of Siam", which starred Irene Dunne, Rex Harrison, Linda Darnell, Lee J. Cobb and Gale Sondergaard in the roles now played by Kerr, Brynner, Moreno, Benson and Saunders, respectively. The movie was directed by John Cromwell from a screenplay by Talbot Jennings and Sally Benson.

Originally filmed in CinemaScope 55, using modified Grandeur cameras, the film was converted to Grandeur 70mm and re-released 23 March 1961.

Yul Brynner, Gertrude Lawrence (replaced by Constance Carpenter when she died of hepatitis on 6 September 1952), Dorothy Sarnoff and Doretta Morrow starred in the original 1951 Broadway play which ran for no less than 1,246 performances. Brynner played the king no fewer than 4,000 times in his career. Truly the role he was born to play.

Best Actor, Yul Brynner (also cited for Anastasia and The Ten Commandments) — National Board of Review. Best Film of 1956 in the Film Daily's annual survey of over 500 American critics and commentators. One of the Ten Best Pictures of 1956 — Bosley Crowther in The New York Times. Negative cost: $6.5 million. Gross rental receipts from initial North American release: $8.5 million, making it Fox's top-grossing domestic release of 1955-56, and second to "Guys and Dolls" at the 1956 U.S. box-office.

In terms of the number of admission tickets sold world-wide, "The King and I" was easily the most popular musical of the 1950s. Unlike "South Pacific", the decade's box-office champion in actual money terms, "The King and I" was not widely road-shown but played regular seasons at regular prices. Fox's second and final film to be shot in CinemaScope 55. (see "Carousel"). The studio's 56th CinemaScope feature.

COMMENT: I thoroughly enjoyed it — the music, the sets, the costumes, all the dazzlingly exotic oriental opulence, and above all the awesomely charismatic Yul Brynner — except for a single black mark. I can't stand Deborah Kerr. Often when you can't bear the sight or sound of somebody, the fault is yours, not theirs. In the case of my aversion for the latter-day Miss Kerr, however, the blame is entirely hers. She used to be a delightful girl. There was something appealingly hoydenish, yet vulnerable, innocent and naive in her screen characterizations. In "I See a Dark Stranger", for instance, she was so perfectly delightful that she held the film's interest single- handedly at times, as the plot meandered all over the countryside. But then she decided to change her personality from warm and vital to patronizing and cold, from unreservedly friendly and trusting to snobbish and detached.

Worse, Deborah changed her pleasant voice and melodious accent to a sort of theatrical gentrified delivery to match her new screen persona. I will admit that she is well cast in "The King and I". The role has been expertly tailored for her. But I can't help hankering for either the Deborah Kerr that was, or for the warmth, the humanity, the sympathy that Gertrude Lawrence brought to the stage version.

Reviewed by pyrocitor 8 / 10

So wrong, yet so right? It's a (delightful) puzzlement.

It's a testament to the abiding cultural affection towards The King and I that all its contemporary criticism follows a similar template of "Well, sure, it's fairly racist, BUT ". It's also a surprisingly fitting extrapolation of the film's core 'don't judge a book by its cover' theme. Among the most beloved Rogers & Hammerstein adaptations to transition to the big screen, the film's over-reliance on uncomfortably antiquated Orientalism, dubious history, and, more than anything, prolific, squirmy yellow-face might at times feel, in the words of the film itself, "barbaric." BUT ! Behind the objectionable trappings lie a simply lovely tale brimming with nostalgia, charm, humour, infectiously hummable songs, and a surprisingly poignant and heartfelt commentary unpacking the tension between tradition and modernity. Is it acceptable to set social politics aside altogether? No, but it is appropriate - nay, necessary - to, on occasion, push them to the back burner in favour of following your heart. Etcetera, etcetera.

Rather considerately, the film assuages our contemporary PC tiptoeing by allowing us to piggyback on the apprehension of our journeying protagonist, Anna. As she whisks herself into the mysterious world of cultural mystery and overachieving bronzers, she immediately disarms our reserve and culture shock with a pristine whistling gag song, a pre-credits wink for us to relax and enjoy our stay. And enjoy we do, as the narrative - a comfortingly familiar first etching of the Mary Poppins/Sound of Music mould to follow - rolls out the players: the unbearably adorable children and their monolithic mentors, Anna and the King. Proceedings are a bit sluggish, but for the next third, our chief task is getting to know them, getting to know all about them, as they warble a roster of iconic, heartwarming tunes. And, slow-going or not, doing so is an utter delight.

The King and I is governed not so much by plot as a clearly honed rhetorical question: how to reconcile the past and future through education (there's also a 'forbidden love' subplot, but this isn't interesting so much as a MacGuffin to further fan the fires of the central conflict). Anna is obstinately bound by a pedagogical and moral tradition imported from England, whereas the King, in attempting to rule proactively (while also subtly stirred by closeted romance), weds Western science and theology to Siamese social norms and power dynamics, resulting in a schizophrenic sense of national identity. But director Walter Lang unearths more of a richness and tender yearning from the theme than simply 'Grease: Royalty Style,' making the Classical Hollywood conservatism of the film's conclusion, 'punishing' the King for his 'sins' with a bout of deus-ex-machina existential depression-sorry-"illness," a jarring, disingenuous dud. Etcetera, et hmm. But enough of that: shall we dance? As with many classical musicals, The King and I's story is second only to the lavishness amidst which it unfolds. And, as a snapshot of the era where production values alone, captured in sumptuous colour and CinemaScope, naturally, were enough to lure audiences away from their televisions to the cinema, it's still hard to stifle oohs and ahhs at the sheer gorgeousness of the mise-en-scène, with sets, props, and costumes (Deborah Kerr's hoop skirts alone are so capacious they could only be shown in CinemaScope) bursting with vivacious colour and aesthetic intricacy. Even the tangential Russian doll of wince that is a white actor in yellow-face narrating a Thai adaptation of Uncle Tom's Cabin(!!) of all things, plays as a rapturously beautiful dance piece, a Hamlet-like "the play's the thing!" style political subtext-laden interlude replete with jaw-dropping costumes and choreography. And if such an absurd cluster of cringe-worthy elements can still conflate to create something beautiful the film must surely achieve some level of incredulous masterpiece, for simply existing as more than the sum of its parts.

Still, the film would be nothing without its two unforgettably commanding performances pumping it full of heart and humanity. Deborah Kerr (whose singing is seamlessly dubbed by the vocally flawless Marni Nixon) is an earnest firebrand of a lead, and plays Anna's uncompromising zeal, quiet tragedy, and coy interpersonal and political machinations to an energetically irresistible hilt. Thanks to her unwavering conviction, the film, now over 60 years old, remains as feminist as it is racially unwieldy (take notes, My Fair Lady !). Nonetheless, there's no question the film belongs to Yul Brynner. Imperious and formidable as he is nimble, jubilant, and slyly playful, Brynner is so overwhelmingly charismatic that qualms about his dubiously inappropriate casting are quickly swept aside in favour of his magnetic presence and bold physicality, his ferociously furrowed brow or cheekily dropping to his belly immortalizing more power than any Oscar-baiting soliloquy. A more grotesquely Hollywood production would cave to convention and requite their subtly stirring romance, but leaving their simmering, tantalizing tension unrequited is scintillating movie magic. Shall we dance? No - we shall swoon.

The King and I remains that difficult paradox of an indisputable classic that remains hard to reconcile as a 21st century watch; moreover, it's overlong, and verges on plodding, even for its time. Nonetheless, the power, vibrancy, and voluminous charm inherent are infectious, making the film a hugely worthwhile, guilty cheat for even the most steadfast pundits of PC purity. Is it still worth watching, in spite of it all? There's no puzzlement about it.


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