The King and I (1956)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The King and I</strong> (1956)

(On TV, July 2018) So, so very boring. I should be sorry for saying so, but there it is: Despite liking all three lead actors a lot (Yul Brynner, Deborah Kerr, and especially Rita Moreno) and liking musicals a lot, and not being completely unreceptive to mid-fifties filmmaking, I found The King and I very long, very dull and unable to go beyond its familiarity. It doesn’t help that the film’s outlook on colonialism is, well, from the mid-fifties (if not earlier, given the film’s lineage to a Broadway production, then to a book, then to real-life experience). I’ll point out that my not liking a musical is not a surprise when the musicals are based on a Broadway/Hammerstein source—I find Broadway adaptations not as interesting as musical developed directly for the screen, and Hammerstein to be humorless. Otherwise, as The King and I demonstrates, it usually ends up being an unimaginative restaging of a theatrical production with very little in terms of purely cinematographic art. It doesn’t help that the source material is almost entirely devoid of anything looking like humour or playfulness.   On the other hand, many of the individual components of the film are just fine. The scenery and costumes are terrific. Brynner is fantastic in the royal role, while Kerr and Moreno are also very good in their roles. And yet, I just couldn’t get or remain in the film, occasionally perking up at some of the better numbers but otherwise thinking “I’ve seen this already with Jodie Foster and Chow Yun-fat”. 

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