The King And I' Yul Brynner (1956) DVD, New & Sealed.
In the Golden Age of musical movies, Rodgers and Hammerstein took three looks at the clashes of Eastern and Western cultures: 'The King and I' (1956), Joshua Logan's 'South Pacific' (1958), and Henry Koster's 'Flower Drum Song' (1961)..
‘The King and I' derived from (a great story-teller.. ) Margaret Landon's fascinating novel ‘Anna and the King of Siam'.. The film concerned a genteel British governess who, with a son of her own, journeys from England to (the exotic Orient..) 19th century Siam (now Thailand) to instruct the king's many children.. (`the royal princess and princesses..') in the ways of the West..
Upon her arrival in 1862.. the uptight widow (tries to allay her own fears and those of her fine son by whistling a tune..) immediately clashes with the powerful ruler over his refusal to give her `a brick residence' of her own outside the walls of the palace as had been promised.. but (the despotic king `do not always remember what he promise..') as the film progresses.. and in a world where women had basically no rights.. the `very difficult woman' learns to temper her outrage at the (king `barbarian' behavior..) the Siamese court and its treatment of women.. such as slavery and polygamy.. but while she was admiring his personality and brilliant mind.. she quickly discovered that the major challenge facing her is much more in the education of the volatile king than of his cute family..
The proud, bald king (despite his open-mindedness about other cultures..) was besieged by both colonial powers and Siamese traditionalists.. At least in private.. he consults Anna on how to handle the threats against Siam from England, Burma, and France.. but he turns a deaf ear to her complaints about having to live in the royal palace.. and ('hah') fascinated by science and geography.. he (cannot appear to be under the sway of a Western woman..) gives `A Puzzlement' the proper mixture of arrogance.. wonder.. and confusion..
In this historical account of conflicting cultures and sexual mores.. we see (a growing attachment.. intellect and spirit..) two people of very different backgrounds drawing apart and then together.. culminating in that most moving and triumphant of moments.. when they dance together for the first time..
The image of Anna swept ‘high up' by the king as they whirl across the palace floor.. His bare feet seductively touching lightly the edge of her satin gown.. ``One, two, three, and one, two, three, and. . . .'' When he tells Anna that something is not correct with the way they are dancing.. and extends his right hand to place it around her waist.. (music can be heard even before the orchestra plays another note..) it's the climax of a ‘romantic love' that never ignites..
This good-hearted story.. enriched by some of Rodgers and Hammerstein's most enduring tunes.. permits (the meeting of two polar cultures explored with wit and humor..) us to enter into the complex mind of a stubborn king stern and imperious.. (whose words and whims become the law of Siam..) but graceful, comic and virile.. and into the feelings of an intelligent woman equally-stubborn.. intrigued.. and deeply irritated by a man.. that quickly found she was also instructing him in the niceties of dancing and dining..
Brynner was (irresistible and seductive.. A towering figure as the king..) blessed with a resonant baritone voice.. both for speaking and singing.. His stance, fierce, and magnetic eyes (denoting a royal leader who cannot be questioned or denied..) have an optimum vision and an inquisitiveness that reflect an agile mind as well as a vulnerable heart.. He is humorous without imagining it.. particularly when receiving the bows of his adorable children.. (Keeping the Buddhist monk hairstyle as his trademark.. he made the role his own.. and his relationship to `The King and I' was unique in the annals of theater.. He immortalized his role as the king over the course of 34 years.. playing it more than 4,600 times.. first on stage, then on the big screen and then on television.. Suffering from throat cancer, he died October 10, 1985.)
Like Yul Brynner, Kerr radiates charisma.. and the two work well together.. From their first meeting to their last tearful parting.. the give and take of their relationship provides the performance its emotional spark.. Deborah Kerr (a reserved, formal character..) is perfectly cast as the charming and warm Anna.. With her musical voice provided by Marni Nixon.. she luminously recalls Anna's past in `Hello, Young Lovers,' and joins the king's children in the charming `Getting to Know You,' (The number worked beautifully in establishing her growing fondness for her pupils..)
The supporting cast was also strong.. Rita Moreno is Tuptim's ill-fated lover (who criticizes the system of slavery and concubinage and voices her desire to be free..) Carlos Rivas carries his role comfortably as her Burmese beau, Lun Tha.. Terry Saunders (the King's number-one wife..) arouses Anna's sympathy for Tuptim by explaining that she and Lun Tha are deeply in love.. Martin Benson plays Kralahome, the King's right hand man.. Patrick Adiarte (the King's oldest son and heir to the throne..) brought tears to our eyes and pride to our hearts in his far-seeing strength of character necessary to bring the film to a triumphant finish..
Graced with a rich and singularly beautiful score.. and skillfully directed by Walter Lang, `The King and I' was nominated for nine Academy Awards.. It received five, including the Best Actor Award to Brynner.. (The film was honored for its art direction, costume design, music scoring, and best sound.) The sets and scenery were gorgeous, and Lang (`Desk Set' & `Can-Can') did everything to convey its grandeur.. You'll certainly love the impressive procession ('March of the Royal Siamese Children') when the king summons his sixty-seven children to meet their delicate schoolteacher.. Jerome Robbins' enchanting and wrenching (play-within-a-play), `The Small House of Uncle Thomas' (a Siamese version of Uncle Tom's Cabin) choreographed by the concubine Tuptim, (who was 'donated' to the king's harem despite the fact that she loved another man..) created a powerful portrayal of the Asian woman who felt the strength of her rage.. and believed that she and other women should be able to choose their own destiny..
Under Lang's direction.. `The King and I' proved to be the best of the Rodgers and Hammerstein adaptations, for reasons that involve East-meets-West flirtation.. racism and authoritarianism.. pageantry and spectacle.. female determination coming up against vanity.. civilization against barbarism.. `Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera..'
Director: Walter Lang
Deborah Kerr .... Anna Leonowens
Yul Brynner .... King Mongkut of Siam
Rita Moreno .... Tuptim
Martin Benson .... Kralahome
Terry Saunders .... Lady Thiang
Rex Thompson .... Louis Leonowens
Carlos Rivas .... Lun Tha
Patrick Adiarte .... Prince Chulalongkorn
Alan Mowbray .... British Ambassador Sir John Hay
Geoffrey Toone .... Sir Edward Ramsay
Coding: All Region Code / NTSC Format
Video: 16:9 Widescreen
Audio: Dolby Digital / AC 3 / 5.1 Surround Sound
Languages: English / Chinese
Subtitles: English / Chinese (All Removable)
Runtime: 133 min.