Socko adult drama. Anna and the King of Siam is a rather faithful screen adaptation of Margaret Landon’s biography, intelligently handled to spellbind despite its long footage.
Anna tells a straightforward narrative, bringing in the natural humor, suspense and other dramatic values of the story of an English widow who finds herself confronted with the many problems of educating the children and some of the wives of the King of Siam. The monarch, himself, needs some education, and Anna sees that he gets it.
Script builds fascinating adult interest without ever implying that relationship between teacher and pupil goes beyond the friendship stage.
Irene Dunne does a superb enactment of Anna, the woman who influenced Siamese history by being teacher and confidante to a kingly barbarian. Rex Harrison shines particularly in his American film debut. It’s a sustained characterization of the King of Siam that makes the role real. Linda Darnell, third star, has little more than a bit as one of the king’s wives, who incurs his displeasure and is burned at the stake. She does well.
1946: Best B&W Cinematography, B&W Interior Decoration (Lyle R. Wheeler, William Darling).
Nominations: Best Supp. Actress (Gale Sondergaard), Screenplay, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture