THE KING AND I (1956) C widescreen 133m dir: Walter Lang

w/Yul Brynner, Deborah Kerr, Rita Moreno, Martin Benson, Terry Saunders, Rex Thompson, Carlos Rivas, Patrick Adiarte, Alan Mowbray, Geoffrey Toone

Rogers and Hammerstein's magnificent Broadway musical makes a memorable film, enhanced by sumptuous settings and superb production values. Brynner struts about, creating the perfect picture of the absolute monarch as the King of Siam, and Kerr matches him every step of the way as the spirited British schoolteacher who is hired to tutor the royal offspring.

From Variety's contemporary review of the film: "All the ingredients that made Rogers and Hammerstein's [1951] The King and I a memorable stage experience have been faithfully transferred to the screen. The result is a pictorially exquisite, musically exciting, and dramatically satisfying motion picture."

From the New York Times archival website (, this 1956 review of the film by Bosley Crowther:

"Whatever pictorial magnificence The King and I may have had upon the stage --- and, goodness knows, it had plenty, in addition to other things --- it has twice as much in the film version which Twentieth Century-Fox delivered last night to the Roxy. It also has other things. It has, first of all, the full content of that charmingly droll and poignant 'book' that Mr. Hammerstein crystallized so smartly from Margaret Landon's Anna and the King of Siam. Every bit of the humor and vibrant humanity that flowed through the tender story of the English school-teacher and the quizzical king is richly preserved in the screen play that Ernest Lehman has prepared. And it is got onto the screen with snap and vigor under the direction of Walter Lang.

"It has, too, the ardor and abundance of Mr. Rodgers' magnificent musical score, which rings out as lyrically and clearly as those clusters of Siamese bells. Most of the memorable numbers are here and are beautifully done, from 'I Whistle a Happy Tune' to the zealous and rollicking 'Shall We Dance?' And the few that have been omitted --- the slave girl Tuptim's 'My Lord and Master' is one, and another is Anna's acrimonious 'Shall I Tell You What I Think of You?' --- are not missed in the general extravagance of melody and decor.

"Also, it has the great advantage of a handsome and talented cast, headed by the unsurpassed Yul Brynner and lovely Deborah Kerr. Mr. Brynner, whose original performance of the volatile King of Siam was so utterly virile and commanding that he took possession of the role, repeats it here in a manner that the close-in camera finds fresh with pride and power. Mr. Brynner has a handsomeness of features and a subtlety of expression that were not so evident on the stage. His comprehension of the tyrant whose passionate avidity for 'scientific' knowledge and enlightenment often clashes with his traditional arrogance and will is such that there come from his performance all sorts of dazzling little glints of a complex personality battling bravely and mightily for air. The king is the heart of this story, and Mr. Brynner makes him vigorous and big.

"But Miss Kerr matches him boldly. Her beauty, her spirit and her English style come as close to approximating those of the late Gertrude Lawrence as could be, and the voice of Marni Nixon adds a thrilling lyricism to her songs. The point of the story, as all know, is that you should never underestimate a woman's power. Miss Kerr makes it trenchant and enjoyable. She and Mr. Brynner are a team.

"Rita Moreno as the lovelorn Tuptim and Carlos Rivas as her Burmese beau are relegated to small roles, but they handle them gracefully and manage to put a haunting poignance into 'We Kiss in a Shadow,' the lovers' song. Terry Saunders is attractive as the 'first wife,' Patrick Adiarte is trim as the young prince and Martin Benson does very nicely with the abbreviated role of the prime minister.

"However, as we said in the beginning, it is the pictorial magnificence of the appropriately regal production that especially distinguishes this film. Done with a taste in decoration and costuming that is forceful and rare, the whole thing has a harmony of the visuals that is splendid in excellent color and CinemaScope. The imagery is beautifully climaxed in the 'Little Hut of Uncle Thomas' ballet, which sort of wraps up the quaintness, the humor and the exquisite delicacy of the issues in this fine film. If you don't go to see it, believe us, you'll be missing a grand and moving thing."

Oscars went to Best Actor (Brynner), Color Art Direction, Sound Recording, Scoring of a Musical Picture, and Color Costume Design. The film was also nominated for Best Picture, Actress (Kerr), and Color Cinematography.