|Page 7 of 8:||      |
|Index||79 reviews in total|
I was never really a fan of "The King and I". Even the Broadway version
I couldn't get into. Although there are many fans of this film/musical,
I couldn't become one. But I do know some great work when I see it. I
don't like the musical, but I like how the movie was made. It was very
beautiful. I was impressed with the cinematography. The acting is also
impressive. It looked like everyone enjoyed doing this musical. And the
story is very wonderful. Like I said, I couldn't get into it, but I do
like the way it was made. That I'll give credit for. But when it comes
to musicals, I'll stick to Oliver or West Side Story. Those are the
best in my opinion.
Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner sparkle in this beautiful musical
together. I like the: Shall We Dance? Dance number performed by:
Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner. I like the actors who were in it.
This movie will be memorable... even for the years to come.
Marni Nixon dubs: Deborah Kerr. She did a perfect job, too. This is way better than: Annie, the movie. I'm happy they picked Deborah Kerr instead of: Maureen O'Hara to play: Anna. Maureen O'Hara just didn't look right for the role.
Anyhow anyone who's a fan of old movies should buy this one on video right away.
That failing would be Deborah Kerr. She's been in so many fabulous films, so
many wonderful roles, and yet she continues to annoy me endlessly. Aside
from her cackling singing voice, her melodramatic over-acting, and her
attempting to out-act everyone else in every film she does, she's not half
Yul Brynner, on the other hand, is absolutely wonderful. Deserving every inch of the Oscar he won, he steals the show here. Every scene he's in is better for it. And the fact that he actually has *some* Asian stock in him, and was raised there, helps a lot (as Hollywood hadn't really acknowledged the existence of acting Asians at that time...)
This film won 5 academy awards, and aside from Brynner's, the others were all to do with production. And the production is simply marvelous. Gorgeous, lavish sets, brilliant costumes, wonderful sound. It's one of the best-looking musicals I've ever seen; on par with Oliver! and Singin' in the Rain in terms of just being magical to look at. And that helps to overcome some of the faults.
What are the faults? Aside from the irksome performance of Kerr, the film is too long. It's very hard to sustain a musical for 2h15, and about 1h45 into the film it started to *draaaaaaag*. As Anna prepared to leave for the twenty billionth time, I just couldn't stand another sob scene with children and wives all pleading and begging for her to stay. I had to sponge the melodrama from my tv screen at least two or three times. And the cheezy, anti-climactic death scene didn't help to save my lunch much either.
On the other hand, some of the scenes were absolutely wonderful; especially the marvelously clever 'Siamese' Uncle Tom's Cabin scene, with interesting reverbrations and allusions to her own plight (except the one moment where she tries to whine her way to the king, Rita Moreno was *really* good, better than Kerr even...), and I quite liked the dancing scene as well.
Overall: This film could easily have rated an eight or nine in my books, but the ending and Kerr's performance just didn't cut it. It's still a wonderful film, however, a classic in every sense of the word. And Brynner's performance is worth the whole film. 7/10.
While I didn't care much for the plot of this story or its ending especially(because the King dies!), I did enjoy seeing those magnificent costumes of the Orient. Quite elaborate! I didn't appreciate the story, however, because it left some unresolved episodes. Whatever happened to Toptim--- that Burmese slave girl and her lover? The story didn't quite resolve that part in my opinion. Also, the characters seemed a little too unnatural in their acting, especially the King, although he did do a nice job of it. I also didn't appreciate the very artificial props for the outdoor garden where Toptim and her lover meet. But, having said all that, I do think it's a great film.
I had looked forward to seeing this film again after a couple of
decades, but it has not aged well.
One theme it hammers into the ground in every scene is that the Siamese are /quaint/ - most especially so in the "Small House of Uncle Thomas" ballet. The King's mannerisms - "scientific" for "rational", and "etcetera, etcetera" - are especially irritating. How good did Anna become at speaking Thai, I wonder - or writing it?
Not for a moment are we invited to look at the West through Siamese eyes. On the contrary, history is falsified by making Anna a 1950s feminist. The impracticality of her hoop skirts is hinted at when the wives kowtow in them, but that is immediately undermined by her reaction to their lack of underwear. (/Would/ she have worn any?) Couldn't Hammerstein find ONE way Thai culture is preferable to ours?
It does still have great songs, and "Something Wonderful" is a vastly better "Stand by your man" song than the appalling "What's the Use of Wond'rin'" in Carousel.
Edit: I've just learnt that the part of Anna was written for Gertrude Lawrence, who "couldn't sing, but who cares?" (Agnes de Mille). That explains "Getting to Know You" "Hello Young Lovers" and "Whistle a Happy Tune."
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There are some deadly flaws here. Except for Yul, the acting is dreadful, with perhaps history's worst child actor performance in Rex Thompson (Louie). The songs are uninspired or worse. There's some rather heavy racial insensitivity and a rather dumb `siamese twin' joke.
Anna's dresses are very nice, especially when she dances and sits on the floor. Some cinemascope shots are really quite good.
But there are only two reasons for seeing this film. One of them is Yul. Its a performance that captures really well three layers: a theatrical actor who plays large: playing a character; who is playing the role of King (who also is playing large, but in a different way); who incidentally sometimes plays a European. Yul's career outside of King is lackluster, so here's an example of a narrow talent finding just the right vehicle. (Lots of examples but for some reason Sean Young in Bladerunner comes to mind.)
The other reason is the marvelous play within a play. Other than the trampling on political correctness (no small matter), it is a real gem. It is placed precisely the same distance from the story (in terms of theater and `reality') as the presentation of the story to real life. I've watched just that part several times. It contains one of the best effects I have ever seen: the silk threads as rain.
Disappointing musical version of Margaret Landon's "Anna and the King of Siam", itself filmed in 1946 with Irene Dunne and Rex Harrison, has Deborah Kerr cast as a widowed schoolteacher and mother who travels from England to Siam in 1862 to accept job as tutor to the King's many children--and perhaps teach the Royal One a thing or two in the process! Stagy picture begins well, but quickly loses energy and focus. Yul Brynner, reprising his stage triumph as the King, is a commanding presence, but is used--per the concocted story--as a buffoon. Kerr keeps her cool dignity and fares better, despite having to lip-synch to Marni Nixon's vocals. Perhaps having already played this part to death, Brynner looks like he had nothing leftover for the screen translation except bombast. Second-half, with Anna and the moppets staging a musical version of "Uncle Tom's Cabin" is quite ridiculous, and the Rodgers and Hammerstein songs are mostly lumbering. Brynner won a Best Actor Oscar, but it is feisty Kerr who keeps this bauble above water. Overlong, heavy, and 'old-fashioned' in the worst sense of the term. ** from ****
Yul Brynner took the role of the King of Siam that he had done a few years
earlier on stage with the incomparable Gertie Lawrence (she died during the
run) and makes his definitive stamp on the movie version. Deborah Kerr
takes on the role of Mrs Anna - interesting to compare her with Irene Dunne
(the same role in Anna and the King of Siam, the earlier non-musical version
of the story) though Kerr comes off better backed by those wonderful songs.
"Hello, Young Lovers" is one of the best to appear in a musical
Two other laurels need to be offered - Terry Saunders for the song 'Something Wonderful', beautifully put-across; and for Rita Moreno's Tuptim. "The King and I" is a spectacle, and the widescreen and colour did it justice. The animated version recently is a pale shadow of this classic.
THE KING AND I has been transferred to the screen from the hit Broadway
musical with all the lavish care any major studio could give it,
blessed by the performances of YUL BRYNNER and DEBORAH KERR as the King
and Anna and a competent supporting cast.
The score, of course, has those wonderful musical moments, most notably springing to life in the "Shall We Dance?" number so expertly filmed and choreographed, with Marni Nixon's voice subbing beautifully for Miss Kerr.
The many children in the cast are charming, the costumes opulent (especially some of the gowns for Miss Kerr), the expensive set decorations are tasteful even when ornate, and the score (while omitting a couple of excellent songs) is performed brilliantly under the baton of Alfred Newman.
Any lover of film musicals will find a lot to admire here, including the stylized "Little Eva" sequence, and any fan of Rodgers and Hammerstein will appreciate the beauty and wit of their sumptuous score.
Well worth it for fans of the golden age of musicals.
Although the King of the title is portrayed as a buffoonish caricature
of the historical man, "The King and I" remains an entertaining film
largely due to its tuneful Rodgers and Hammerstein score and the often
under-praised performance of Deborah Kerr as Anna. Rama IV, who was
also known as Mongkut, ruled Siam from 1851 to 1868 and was the first
Siamese monarch to grasp western culture and technology. His reign
began the modernization process in Thailand that was carried on by his
son. How unfortunate that such a gifted and intelligent man should be
portrayed as an arrogant simpleton who would suggest sending a herd of
male elephants to populate American forests. How demeaning to portray a
learned man, who could read Latin and English and speak several Asian
languages, as a cruel tyrant who would stoop to involve himself in
harem intrigues. Unfortunately, Broadway and Hollywood accepted the
pseudo-fictional writings of a Victorian Englishwoman, Anna Leonowens,
rather than historical documents. Miss Leonowens was evidently more
interested in inflating her own status as teacher to the royal children
and in concocting a good story about her relationship with the King
than in dealing with the facts. Thus, it is not surprising that her
book, "Anna and the King," and subsequent films adapted from it are not
welcome in Thailand today.
Yul Brynner's over-praised performance as the King likely played well on stage, however, his broad gestures are exaggerated on screen, and he often seems to playing to the second balcony. The rest of the cast evidently took their cues from Brynner and perform like a stage troupe. Only the lovely Deborah Kerr realized that she was being filmed and that the smallest gesture or glance would be magnified on the huge Cinemascope screen. Although criticized because her singing was dubbed by Marni Nixon in this film, Kerr was an outstanding movie actress. She quietly and authoritatively anchors the film and keeps it from sliding into the orchestra pit with the rest of the oddly cast actors. Only in 1950's Hollywood would a casting director conceive of Latinos as Thais. Unfortunately, the film's art direction has dated as badly as its casting. Fifty years ago, few people made the trek to Thailand. But today, countless viewers can compare their memories of the Royal Palace in Bangkok with the version in the movie. 20th Century Fox's Bangkok resembles a theatrical set stretched to fill a sound stage. In fact, with only a few faux-Siamese touches removed, the sets look suspiciously similar to those of Ancient Rome and Egypt in "Cleopatra," which came from the same studio and used the same team of designers.
However, "The King and I" is not a disaster by any means. Despite its flaws, the music is captivating. The scene when Anna and the King dance to "Shall We Dance" is the glorious highlight of the film. The costumes, especially those worn by Brynner, are eye popping, although probably not historically accurate if photographs of the real King are to be believed. Rodgers and Hammerstein were not well treated by Hollywood. Their best musicals were often poorly adapted as the clumsily directed "Oklahoma" and "South Pacific" attest. Ironically, one of the pair's weakest musicals, "The Sound of Music," received arguably the best screen adaptation. "The King and I" falls somewhere in between and stands as an acceptable record of the Broadway production, although the film betrays its stage origins. The often-lauded "Small House of Uncle Tom" number, which may have been a show stopper on Broadway, adds little but footage, which could have been better used to restore the three missing songs. For a gracious performance by Deborah Kerr, one of Rodgers and Hammerstein's best scores, and a glossy, colorful production, "The King and I" is good family entertainment. However, after the movie, youngsters should be sent to their history books to learn of the real King Rama IV and his accomplishments.
|Page 7 of 8:||      |
|External reviews||Parents Guide||Plot keywords|
|Main details||Your user reviews||Your vote history|