THE KING AND I (1956)
Walter Lang’s magnificent film version of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s stage play with a screenplay by Ernest Lehman (THE SOUND OF MUSIC) won five Academy Awards (out of nine nominations) including Best Actor for Yul Brynner in a role he was born to play. The score including Shall We Dance?, Getting to Know You, Whistle a Happy Tune, etc., etc., etc. is one of the finest of the 2oth Century and further embedded the genius of Rodgers and Hammerstein into the culture. The film detailing the true story (with much artistic license taken, so much so that the film to this day is still banned in Burma/Myanmar) of Anna Leonowens (based on her memoirs which the novel ANNA AND THE KING OF SIAM by Margaret Landon was based on) who went to Siam (modern day Myanmar) to educate the children of King Mongkut in the ways of the western world. Of course there is a series of major cultural clashes with the stoic English woman standing up to the King and trying to accept a way of life that is completely foreign to her. The King has numerous wives and even more children from these numerous of wives. It is splendid entertainment and worth seeing on the big screen if you ever have the chance. Deborah Kerr was an exquisite Anna (with Marni Nixon dubbing her stunning singing voice), Rita Morena as Tuptim (with Opera star Marilyn Horne dubbing her beautiful singing voice), Terry Saunders, Martin Benson, Rex Thompson as Louis Leonowens (Anna’s young son), Patrick Adiarte, Alan Mowbray, Geoffrey Toone, Carlos Rivas and some of the most charming children to ever grace a movie screen. There is a new Blu-Ray version of this film that helps to bring out the extraordinary colors of the production design, so it is readily available to everyone.