THE KING AND I was one of my earlier introductions to the great body of work, from the team of Rodgers and Hammerstein. This film showcases Deborah Kerr, as Anna Leonowens (with the singing voice of Marni Nixon--the "ghost singer" for many Hollywood starlets) and Yul Brynner, as the King of Siam, at his bald-headed best. This is the musical remake of ANNA AND THE KING OF SIAM, made in 1946, starring Irene Dunne (as Anna Leonowens) and Yul Brynner (as The King of Siam).
THE KING AND I brings important social issues, as relevant in 1862 (the year that the story is set) as they are today. Though, dated in nature, this wonderfully engrossing tale examines racism, sexism and misogyny, as experienced through the eyes of British governess Anna Leonowens, who arrives in Siam (now Thailand) to teach the king's brood of children about history and valuable life lessons. One of the most well-known songs from this film is "Getting To Know You," a sweet, upbeat song, where Anna teaches the children to be more open-minded toward people outside of what is comfortable and familiar to them. I think that best illustrates Leonowens' view of the world, and how it vastly contrasts from the views more commonly voiced in the castle of the king. For starters, The King has many, many, many wives. This includes a beautiful new wife, the young Tuptim (Rita Moreno), who is secretly in love with another man--a forbidden romance. The king keeps wives like he would livestock, and Anna is appalled by this common custom. She sets out to break down the kings' machisimo. But, will she succeed?
Some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard from Rodgers and Hammerstein. The songs include "We Kiss In the Shadow," "Shall We Dance" (made famous by the wonderful dancing sequence, involving Deborah Kerr in a beautiful purple gown, shasaying with an enthusiastic king), and "I Have Dreamed." This film is beautifully acted, marvelously directed, and greatly engaging.
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