The King and I Review
By Christopher Null
The popular pick for the best Rodgers and Hammerstein musical is probably The Sound of Music, but I'm throwing in for The King and I. Yul Brynner is not the kind of character you usually think of when you look at R&H musicals. Usually the hero is some country bumpkin with an all-American face and a plaid shirt. Brenner doesn't wear plaid here. He doesn't wear a shirt at all, in fact. The story is a timeless classic: An English teacher (Deborah Kerr, equally stellar) takes a job in Siam, teaching to the King's (Brynner) many many children. Naturally, she teaches the King a thing or two, as well, who immediately takes a liking to her use of the phrase "et cetera, et cetera, et cetera," which becomes the film's best running joke.
In addition to witty, rat-a-tat dialogue and a fun plot that also touches on social issues of the day, the film is a visual spectacle, too. The songs are of course classic, and the sequence wherein a Siamese version of Uncle Tom's Cabin is presented as a play is an amazing work of art. Though it runs well into two hours long, the film is never tiresome, even when Kerr threatens to leave Siam for the umpteenth time. It's funny and touching, an altogether classic movie of the first rank.
The new 50th Anniversay Edition DVD (also included in the Rodgers & Hammerstein Collection box set) includes two discs, with commentary track, making-of featurettes, restoration footage, an additional song, and archival featurettes.
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Friday 29th June 1956
Box Office Worldwide: $21.3M
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Production compaines: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Fresh: 24 Rotten: 1
Cast & Crew
Starring: Deborah Kerr as Anna Leonowens, Yul Brynner as King Mongkut of Siam, Rita Moreno as Tuptim, Martin Benson as Kralahome, Terry Saunders as Lady Thiang, Rex Thompson as Louis Leonowens, Carlos Rivas as Lun Tha, Patrick Adiarte as Prince Chulalongkorn, Alan Mowbray as Sir John Hay, Geoffrey Toone as Sir Edward Ramsay, Charles Irwin as Capt. Orton (uncredited)