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KING AND I, THE: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
The musical version of the Margaret Landon autobiography about the widow Anna (Deborah Kerr) who accepts the job of children’s governess to the King of Siam (Yul Brynner) and discovers not only the clash of cultures but the similarity in humanity of different people.


Review by Richard Kuipers:
Two of the showstoppers in this lavish adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical have never sounded the same to me since they were featured in Welcome to Woop Woop (1997). Do you remember Shall We Dance and Getting To Know You as performed by the outback residents in that vastly underrated Australian comedy? It was the first time permission to use those classics had been granted since 1956 and judging from the response of critics and ticket buyers it'll be another 41 years before the Rodgers and Hammerstein estate thinks about leasing the rights. 

What we have here is one of the most loved musicals of all time given the full Hollywood treatment in the golden age of movie musicals. MGM dominated the field in the 50s but Fox claimed glory when this picked up 10 nominations and 6 Oscars. Art-directed and costumed within an inch of its life, The King and I is still a rather stagey proposition (location shooting was the exception rather than the norm in those days) but is packed with such wonderful musical numbers it doesn't matter. 

Nor does it matter too much that Deborah Kerr's portrayal of English schoolteacher Anna Leonowens embodies all that is smug and superior in Empire as it encounters Savagery in all its polygamous wretchedness as she embarks on educating the king's army of wives and offspring. 

You can deconstruct the politics (sexual and otherwise) all you like but what remains is a gorgeous looking and bouncy crowd pleaser that appears impervious to the passage of time and cultural dissection. This is still banned in Thailand where royalty really is Royalty and even Yul Brynner's Oscar-winning performance could not overcome objections about the lack of respect afforded the monarch on screen. They don't make 'em like this anymore - thank god - but let's be thankful they once did. Great entertainment and the bonus materials are a treat.

Published May 6, 2004

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KING AND I, THE: DVD (G)
(US, 1956)

CAST: Yul Brynner, Deborah Kerr, Rita Moreno, Martin Benson, Terry Saunders, Rex Thompson

DIRECTOR: Walter Lang

RUNNING TIME: 139 minutes

PRESENTATION: Widecreen (2.55:1); Language: English. Subtitles: English (H.O.H.), Czech, Danish, Finnish, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Swedish

SPECIAL FEATURES: US Theatrical Trailer, Movietone newsreel Premiere, Movietone newsreel Academy Awards, Songs (audio only) I Whistle A Happy Tune, Getting To Know You, Hello Young Lovers, Cast and Crew Biographies, Production Notes.

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: April 28, 2004







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