Matchmaker Dolly Levi travels to Yonkers to find a partner for "half-a-millionaire" Horace Vandergelder, convincing his niece, his niece's intended, and his two clerks to travel to New York City along the way.
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 <email@example.com>
The subplot involving Tuptim, although heavily altered by Oscar Hammerstein II in the play to make it more of a definite romance between Tuptim and Lun Tha, was once thought to have a basis in reality, but it has turned out to be completely fictional, part of the embellishments that Anna Leonowens added to her autobiography during her years as governess and schoolteacher to the King's children. See more »
Scarlet macaws from South America and an African elephant appear in a Siamese marketplace. See more »
In the 1991 VHS release, after the "Feature Presentation" card fades to black, at first a film called A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969) starts playing, and it goes up until the start of its opening credits, then you hear someone saying that they put in the wrong film. The film stops, a quick reel change slide is put up, and then the real movie starts. See more »
Home video releases have been very inconsistent with whether or not they have the A Boy Named Charlie Brown mock opening to the movie. It was not included on the 1990 VHS release, was reinstated for the 1991 VHS, but removed again for the 1994 VHS release. See more »
Director Walter Lang does his best to ruin what may be Rodgers & Hammerstein's strongest stage musical, but he's no match for the stellar material.
He directs with a stodgy, anonymous style -- why actually move your camera around a set when you can root it to the floor as if it's a potted plant? With the exception of Yul Bryner and Deborah Kerr, he elicits performances from his cast that would be at home in a cheesy sword-and-sandal Biblical epic. And the film has that overblown, garish visual design too common to big films from this time period, that manages to look both cheap and expensive at the same time, as if all the sets are made out of brightly colored plexiglass.
But, and this is a big "but," this musical tells a beautiful story about cultural tolerance that remains intact in the film, and the movie offers the strong performances of Bryner and Kerr, both perfectly cast in their roles. "Carousel" may have given audiences the most sophisticated R&H score, but for me, the music in "The King and I" remains the most glorious. Too bad the adapted film score severely truncates its stage counterpart: many songs are missing entirely, and almost all of those left are shortened versions.
Happily, the "Small House of Uncle Thomas" ballet sequence remains in the film and retains the original Jerome Robbins choreography as it appeared on stage. It may just be the most memorable musical number ever conceived for stage or screen.
This film isn't the best possible screen adaptation of a nearly perfect stage show, but thanks to Bryner and Kerr, and of course R&H, it'll do.
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