Review: The King and I

Director: Walter Lang
Year: 1956
Score: 6.5/10

Siamese twins?

Siamese twins?

Watchable but unmemorable Rodgers and Hammerstein musical about Anna Leonowens teaching the King of Siam and his children in the 1860s. I recognised only one song, ‘Getting to Know You’, and while I enjoyed it and a few others, I found the remainder quite naff. Certainly the strangest (and perhaps most compelling) sequence is not really a song at all: it’s the performance of a stage adaptation of Uncle Tom’s Cabin lasting almost fifteen minutes (a ninth of the movie). Deborah Kerr is appealing as Anna and Yul Brynner is good fun in his exaggerated Oscar-winning performance as the King. His chest is on display so prominently and often that it becomes quite amusing; the movie really should be called ‘The King and I and His Pecs’. Some more genuine criticisms: Patrick Adiarte is truly awful as Prince Chulalongkorn; the ‘et cetera’ running gag is repeated so many times that it goes from endearing to tiresome; there are some totally wasted characters, such as Anna’s son Louis (whose most notable contribution is being scared, prompting a fun opening number about whistling) and Kralahome the Prime Minister; and the use of English is occasionally odd, such as in one scene featuring only Kralahome and the King – wouldn’t they be speaking Thai, as characters in some other scenes do?


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