TCM 31 Days of Oscar
I’ve challenged myself to watch a movie every day from Turner Classic Movie channel’s 31 Days of Oscar. I’ll be focusing on the movies I haven’t watched yet, with maybe just a few movies I’ve already seen.
Here is my 16th day and movie of my challenge to TCM’s 31 Days of Oscar.
Anna and the King of Siam
8 out of 10 stars
1946 Drama Black and White film. Based on a 1944 semi-fictionalized biographical novel (same title) by Margaret Landon (Amazon link). Starring Irene Dunne, Rex Harrison, Linda Darnell, Lee J. Cobb, Gale Sondergaard, Mikhail Rasumny and Dennis Hoey.
The 360° Game: stars off with On the Waterfront starring Lee J. Cobb, and he was in Anna and the King of Siam with Rex Harrison who was in the next film, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.
And the Oscar goes to… Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction (Lyle R. Wheeler, William S. Darling, Thomas Little, Frank E. Hughes).
Short Synopsis: A young English widow (Irene Dunne) goes to 1862 Siam with her son to tutor the king’s (Rex Harrison) harem and 67 children. (128 min).
A note before I start watching this… why I chose this movie: I have seen and liked 2 other versions of this story, the 1956 film starring Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr. And the 1999 film starring Jodie Foster and Yun-Fat Chow.
My Thoughts: I think I like Irene Dunne as Anna the most now. This was a well acted version of this film. Rex Harrison did a good job, but I still much prefer Yul Brynner as the King. But then, it could be because Yul wasn’t afraid to show off his body. As for the other actors, I really liked them. I think that helped in watching this through because I know the story so much after seeing The King and I on numerous occasions, so Anna and the King of Siam felt long to me. It’s still worth the watch.
The Play by Play Thoughts…
0:02 Victorian era 1860’s. Isn’t it nice when the film’s start off with a description of the era and settings of the story?
0:05 Prime Minister to accept Anna in Siam. And all his theatrics. Poor elephant. He has a lot of questions too. Anna thinks that she knows some things about Siam from a book she read on the ship. The truth is that we can read about another culture, but we don’t actually understand that culture unless we visit the places and try to be respectful towards them.
0:15 “I said we’d have a home of our own, and here I’ve brought you straight into a harem.” And the days tick by from April to June. Hopefully Anna has learned some of the customs…
0:18 Nope. Anna still hasn’t learned much. She sees crawling to the King is like crawling like a worm. So instead they walk up uninvited and bow.
0:20 And here’s”Sexy Rexy” as the King of Siam. And he likes Anna’s “Scientific Mind”.
0:23 “Ah, here come my children. You see, mostly boys.” Awe shucks, we only get to see a third of the 76 children.
0:27 King’s birthday June 12, 1862. And the British Newspaper calls him a Spare Man. Anna tries to explain that spare has two meanings. And since school was postponed she asks for the house leading to disobeying the King. Which is understandable since he thinks of her as a servant, not a school teacher. So it’s either let her leave or give her a “house”.
0:30 “The House” is right next to the fish market. And the King’s Secretary has a conspiratorial grin.
0:33 Lady Thiang and the first day of school. Of course the children will misbehave as soon as the King leaves them to work and it takes the First Wife to settle the children down.
“For instance this one. It’s an old proverb.
‘If a man break faith with me, shame on him.
But if I let him deceive me twice, shame on me.”
0:36 Anna’s first gift to the King. And the battle between Anna and the King between a home has begun. Along with Siam and Cambodia and the French Government. And like the way he’s doing nothing with the argument with Anna, he will do nothing with Cambodia.
0:47 “He is is very lonely man… and very strange man. Yet for him, I would die.” The Prime Minister is Siam pleading to Anna to stay. He’s a good actor, but sometimes I wonder can he look at the other actors and say his lines, or does he always have to look at the camera.
1:05 President Abraham Lincoln. His letter to the President. And the fact that both the King and the oldest son wants to understand laws.
1:11 Lady Taptim is not First, it looks like Anna is. What a temper tantrum she’s got. Especially when she’s not in love with the King. But I guess as the newest wife she’s hoping to have a lot of privileges.
1:20 King tries to show the Europeans that he is not Barbaric. And yet it would’ve been just fine if he hadn’t gone to such extremes, like the Rose Water and napkins. Funny. But still over doing it. Guess it just shows how stubborn he is in doing things his way.
“Ah. This is newspaper that prints I am spare man.”
1:29 The King’s gift to Anna. Sweet.
1:39 “I am the Law.” Irene played really well at calling the King a Barbarian for torturing Lady Taptim out of revenge.
And so Anna says goodbye to all the children and the wives. It’s a sweet touch with the letter read aloud by the wives.
Prince Chula and Lady Thiang doesn’t say goodbye to Anna. Lady Thiang explains why she failed with the Lady’s wallpaper that she painted. She could have communicated this at the beginning when Anna first taught the Lady’s son that she wished Anna would do more than teach him.
And that leads directly to the next scene with Anna’s son.
1:46 Anna’s son. Anna wishes to stay to teach, and somehow gets drawn into writing the corresponding letters for the King.
2:00 The King is very ill. He wanted knowledge but was so stubborn to ask for help. Although he did ask for Anna’s help a lot, but I guess she couldn’t teach him enough.
2:07 And now comes the new King of Siam. Hopefully Anna’s guided him enough to help him be ready to rule at such a young age.
Yup, he is going to make some good changes for his country it looks like.
TCM Host Ben Mankiewicz comments to the film: Noted that this is the first movie version. And was Rex Harrison’s first Hollywood film.
Anna’s 2 books. “Landon says herself said the biography was 75% fact and 25% fiction based on fact.”