Anna and the King of Siam
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Number of discs: 1
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Run Time: 128 minutes
This "magnificent spectacle" with "matchless pageantry" and "frequent moments of high comedy," (Hollywood Reporter) stars Rex Harrison as the King of Siam and Irene Dunne as Anna, the charming, strong-willed English widow who teaches him how to live in a modern world. Accompanied by her son, Anna Owens arrives in Siam to educate the king's harem and his sixty-seven children. She soon discovers there are many obstacles to overcome and it is only through her ingenuity, wit and dedication that she is able to continue her work. Slowly, she sees the effect of her influence on the court, but it is not until the stubborn king realizes he need's Ana's wisdom and guidance that her difficult mission is a success.
The story of British teacher Anna Leonowens and her sojourn to the court of 19th century Siam has proved irresistible to many generations--as book, movie, or Broadway show. Arguably the most beloved version of the story is the 1946 Fox film Anna and the King of Siam, an elegant and bittersweet drama. Irene Dunne plays the widow Anna, who arrives in Siam in 1862 with her young son in tow. Her ostensible job, to teach the many children of the polygamous King (Rex Harrison, in his first Hollywood picture), soon broadens into an unofficial court advisor. The most amusing sequences in the first half of the picture are the battles of manners between feisty Anna and the intellectually curious but tradition-bound king--a battle that engenders great mutual respect. John Farrow directed, with his customary sympathy for the female heroine and eye for handsome spaces (the film won Oscars for art direction and Arthur Miller's cinematography). The main Asian characters are played by white actors, with Lee J. Cobb especially startling as the prime minister. The affecting story leaves no doubt to why Rodgers and Hammerstein saw the future musical The King and I in the material, and indeed you may find yourself humming "Getting to Know You" or "Something Wonderful" beneath certain scenes. It was remade in 1999 with Jodie Foster as Anna and the King, with more cultural correctness but less charm. --Robert Horton
(as of 12/31/1999 8:00 PM EST - details