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The King and I (1956)

Approved | | Biography, Drama, Musical | 29 June 1956 (USA)
A widow accepts a job as a live-in governess to the King of Siam's children.

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(screenplay), (book) | 1 more credit »
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Won 5 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Martin Benson ...
Terry Saunders ...
Rex Thompson ...
Carlos Rivas ...
Patrick Adiarte ...
...
Geoffrey Toone ...
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Storyline

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, translates "Uncle Tom's Cabin" into a Siamese ballet. After expressing her unhappiness at being with the King, the slave decides to make an attempt to escape with her lover. Anna and the King start to fall in love, but her headstrong upbringing inhibits her from joining his harem. She is just about to leave Siam but something important she finds out makes her think about changing her mind. Written by Randy Goldberg <goldberg@nymc.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Fabulous Broadway Stage Success Comes to the Screen! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

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Release Date:

29 June 1956 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King and I  »

Box Office

Budget:

$4,550,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)| (70 mm re-release)| (1956 roadshow version)

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of the background voices in the "Small House of Uncle Thomas" sequence is that of a young Marilyn Horne. See more »

Goofs

The map of the world shows a separate Norway. It was not until 1905 that Norway separated from Sweden and became an independent kingdom. See more »

Quotes

King: [chanting to Buddha before banquet preparations] Help also Mrs. Anna to keep awake for scientific sewing of dresses, even though she be only a woman and a Christian and therefore unworthy of your interest!
Anna: [greatly offended, rising] Your Majesty!
King: A promise is a promise! Head must not be higher than mine! A promise!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: Siam 1862 See more »

Connections

Referenced in M*A*S*H: Hawkeye (1976) See more »

Soundtracks

Song of the King
(1951) (uncredited)
Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Sung by Yul Brynner
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
So Many Happy Tunes
27 August 2007 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

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 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.


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