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Beauty vs Beast: The King and... Who?

Jason from MNPP here. Tomorrow is the 97th anniversary of the great Yul Brynner's birth, and while there are several options we could tackle for this week's "Beauty vs Beast" (The Ten Commandments being the most obvious) I decided to go with the most awkward for me - 1956's technicolor musical The King and I, because I feel like we could use a colorful musical right this minute. There's just one problem, which is what renders this "awkward" - I haven't ever seen The King and I. Whoops!

I know the basic gist - Deborah Kerr plays a school-teacher who moves to Siam and she and the King (Brynner) teach each other about their different cultures and fall into something like love. But specifics? Notsomuch. So here's the deal - I will go home and watch The King and I this week, pinky swear, and you guys tell me in the comments what your "Pros" and "Cons" are for each character in place of me listing them. Deal? Deal!

PREVIOUSLY Last week we went looking for the best Wingman of the Top Gun bunch, and as I figured might happen the current anti-Cruise zeitgeist carried Iceman (Val Kilmer) up into the stratosphere with 52% of the vote. Tom Cruise, your career is in the Danger Zone! Said Travis:

"I'm just very concerned for the well-being of anyone that would vote for a tiny troll over the delicious Iceman."

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Reader Comments (14)

One of my favorite bits of Oscar trivia: Yul Brynner is one of nine people who won a Tony and an Oscar for playing the same part - but he is the only one of the group who won the Tony in the Featured (i.e. Supporting) category, but the Oscar as a Lead Actor. (Additional trivia: Earlier this year, Viola Davis became the first actress to do the category split the other way.)

July 10, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMrW

Voting for "I" is almost unfair because it's really two, two, TWO people in one. Marni Nixon's (dubbed in) singing...swoon.

July 10, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTom M

Oh this is my moms favorite movie. This film has Deborah and Yul at their most beautiful. Sigh this is hard. I'm voting for team I. Yul won the Oscar so he won't be too mad. Based on who else was nominated Deborah probably should have won, so I'll give her this award.

July 10, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTom

A great show and a great movie musical

July 10, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

Great movie, with a lot more complex race and sex politics than one would imagine. Still problematic in areas, of course. Yul gives an all-time great performance. Deborah is serviceable, nothing more and nothing less.

July 10, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

A great stage show with an absolutely fantastic score. The movie version's good but - unfortunately too static and stage-bound for my tastes. Brynner's superb and the mounting of The Small House of Uncle Thomas" is perfection. I also love Terry Saunders - wonderfully effective as both actress and singer - playing the king's wife. Interestingly, Maureen O"Hara and Dorothy Dandridge were originally considered for the roles of Mrs. Anna and Tuptim. Kerr and Moreno were commendable but I can't help thinking that O'Hara (who could have done her own singing, no problem) and Dorothy Dandridge (who might have, though studios tended to dub her with more operatic voices in the 50's) would have both been marvelous.

July 10, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKen

Yul/The King:
Wants to be progressive
Charming and expansive

Has a very hard time keeping his word

Deborah/Mrs. Anna/I
Strong sense of self confidence and right and wrong
Compassionate and even handed

Forgets about Western undergarments (it will make sense once you see the film)
Often too easily swayed

My vote would go with Mrs. Anna/Deborah despite the fact that she doesn’t sing her own songs but Yul is wildly charismatic as the King.

You should also give the original version "Anna and the King of Siam" with Irene Dunne and Rex Harrison in the leads and Linda Darnell as Tuptim a look to compare. The first is more serious and realistic with darker fates for some of the characters whereas the musical leans more towards the unspoken romance. Both are good just different.

July 10, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

Read Marni Nixon's book. She talks about having to stand behind Kerr and copying her movements when she did the dubbing, and revealed that Yul was stupping Kerr during breaks in filming! It's a gorgeous movie. My students loved it when I showed The King and I. Rita Moreno is terrific as Tuptim and the cinematography is completely beautiful.

That said, frankly, Kerr just copies Irene Dunne's performance in Anna and the King of Siam, which, I think is one of the reasons she never got an Oscar. If she had won, it should have been for Separate Tables, though.

July 10, 2017 | Unregistered

I disagreed w the comment tt Kerr is merely serviceable as Anna. If anything, her materna, genteel Anna is a nice counterbalance to the baboonish, caricature Thai King.

To be fair, I ustand tt the role of the King has to be cranked up a few notches n hollywoodized for western taste in the 50s, but as an Asian, Brynner's portrayal gets more cringe worthy w every passing decades.

On the other hand, Kerr's may not as loud or OTT, but her subtle charm n grace grows well w time n establishs her as one of the few truly classy n graceful female stars in Hollywood's golden era.

July 10, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterClaran

I still hate myself for missing Kelli O'Hara and Ken Watanbe in the Lincoln Center production.


July 11, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDerreck.

It's got to be Deborah Kerr. It doesn't seem to be the popular opinion around these parts, but I never grooved to Yul Brynner. He's way too over the top in his movements and stilted in his dialogue. And Deborah... this is definitely not her best work, but she still shines through.

July 11, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGeustguestguest

"And I", of course, cuz I always pick the lady in a gentleman vs lady competition. Plus Deborah Kerr gets higher marks for looking glorious in period dresses and Technicolor. And how easy and natural her chemistry seems with all of her male co-stars, even if she detested them IRL. (But according to some sources, she had dalliances with more than a few...but Yul was not one of them)

July 11, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPam

I just saw this in Chicago and it was a glorious production. Cosign Derrick--I hated missing the NY version. But this one really shone brightly.

July 11, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

here's an interesting bit of trivia. Gertrude Lawrence, who starred with Brynner on broadway & won the Tony, is BURIED in her "shall we dance" costume. Can you imagine stuffing that dress into a coffin????

July 12, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterjimmy

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