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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Darryl F. Zanuck first cast Maureen O'Hara as Anna because she was not only gorgeous but had a fine soprano voice and would not have to be dubbed. When Zanuck told her the news, she immediately sent sample recordings of her voice. Richard Rodgers agreed that O'Hara had a great voice but reportedly said, "No pirate queen is going to play my Anna!" See more »
Tuptim's play "Small House of Uncle Thomas" is an inaccurate hodgepodge of characters and scenes from the original book, but this can easily be understood as her best interpretation of the story as a new speaker of English who wants to use the story for her own purposes to change the King's heart. However, few of the references to Buddha or Buddhism within the song are depicted accurately and shows a clear Western interpretation of the religion. Some specific examples are that Buddhists do not view Buddha as God but rather as the founder of their teachings and the first to attain Enlightenment, they do not therefore pray to Buddha for help and guidance, they do not believe in angels, and they do not believe that Buddha calls them to his presence when they die; all of these are strictly Christian beliefs, most likely used in the story for the purpose of relating to a Western audience. See more »
The credits first say "Twentieth-Century Fox presents a CinemaScope Picture in CinemaScope 55", and then they go on to say "Darryl F. Zanuck presents Rodgers and Hammerstein's 'The King and I'". See more »
The 1991 VHS release from Fox Video features the A Boy Named Charlie Brown false start scene that comes before the "actual" film. It was removed on later VHS releases, starting with 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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