All the ingredients that made Rodgers & 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.

All the ingredients that made Rodgers & 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.

With Deborah Kerr in the role originally created by Gertrude Lawrence, and Yul Brynner and Terry Saunders repeating their stage performances, the production has the talent to support the opulence of this truly blockbuster presentation. CinemaScope 55, originally introduced with R&H’s Carousel, attains its full glory with The King and I.

As the Victorian Englishwoman who comes to Siam to teach Western manners and English to the royal household, Kerr gives one of her finest performances. She handles the role of Mrs Anna, with charm and understanding and, when necessary, the right sense of comedy.

As the brusque, petulant, awkwardly-kind despot confused by the conflicts of Far Eastern and Western cultures, Yul Brynner gives an effective, many-shaded reading.

Although unbilled, the singing voice of Kerr is Marni Nixon. It is ghosted so well that it is hard to believe that it is not Kerr.

The film suggests a stronger romantic feeling between Mrs Anna and the king than was presented in the legituner, but it is done with the utmost delicacy.

[For pic's 1961 reissue in a 70mm blowup, an interval was added after the temple scene, plus music for an overture, entr'acte and playout.]

1956: Best Actor (Yul Brynner), Color Art Direction, Sound Recording, Scoring of a Musical Picture, Color Costume Design.

Nominations: Best Picture, Director, Actress (Deborah Kerr), Color Cinematography, Color Art Direction

The King and I

Production

20th Century-Fox. Director Walter Lang; Producer Charles Brackett; Screenplay Ernest Lehman; Camera Leon Shamroy; Editor Robert Simpson; Music Alfred Newman (dir.); Art Director Lyle R. Wheeler, John DeCuir

Crew

(Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1956. Running time: 133 MIN.

With

Deborah Kerr Yul Brynner Rita Moreno Martin Benson Terry Saunders Rex Thompson
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more