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Trivia / The King and I

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  • Accidentally Correct Writing: Given the incredible liberties this movie takes with its source material, the tiny details it does get right are perhaps best explained as this. For example, there really was a pet cat in the King's palace.
    • Chulalongkorn being a martial artist and constantly practicing in his spare time isn't just racist stereotyping, the real Chulalongkorn was an avid Thai boxer and was one of the major forces behind adapting Muay Thai as Thailand's national sport. The 1946 version refers to this when he and Louis get into an argument and he tells Louis that because his head and shoulders cannot be touched, stick fighting would be the only way: he's apparently referring to a type of krabi krabong, which he rightly describes as "a matter that takes much skill. I would have beaten him badly."
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    • In the 1999 version, Tuptim's lover Lun Tha is Adapted Out, she becomes Chulalongkorn's love interest instead, and the two of them get a Happily Ever After ending in place of the original Tuptim and Lun Tha's tragic fate. This was obviously done to make the movie more family-friendly. However, according to one of King Mongkut's descendants, Anna Leonowens' story of Tuptim's forbidden romance and death was total fiction; there really was a Tuptim, but she outlived Mongkut and became one of Chulalongkorn's wives. So in this detail, the animated version is more accurate than the original!
  • AFI's 100 Years... Series:
  • Author Existence Failure: Gertrude Lawrence originated the role of Anna but died unexpectedly of cancer a year after the play's opening which is why she couldn't reprise the role in the film adaptation.
  • Banned in China: Not surprisingly, the film (both the animated and live-action versions) is rather disliked in Thailand. What's worse is that no matter how the filmmakers rework the story, it always ends up getting banned in that country. A key part of the problem is that there are very strict laws about lese-majeste (basically, insulting the monarch) in Thailand; it wasn't so long ago that the king was literally revered as a god, and he still has a very special status. King Mongkut is viewed by today's Thai people with the respect that Americans would have for, say, Abraham Lincolnnote  but unlike the many satirical portrayals of Lincoln, you do that in Thailand to any member of the royal family — even affectionate parody — and you'll go to jail. (There certainly are accepted cartoons, often showing shutterbug Bhumibol with his camera and/or with the stray mutt he adopted and wrote a book about. There was a royal kitty cat, too.) Anna Leonowens' story and all its adaptations portray him as an intelligent but unsophisticated barbarian who is trying to become civilized. To the Thai people, The King and I is the equivalent of King Louie in The Jungle Book. The fundamental problem that modern directors seem to miss is that no matter how respectfully the King is portrayed, the basic story still requires that Thailand be a backwards country in dire need of being civilized by Westerners — Mongkut had already put the country on the fast track to modernization long before Anna got there — and ultimately that their King is wrong, which is not only disrespectful but illegal.
    "Brynner's portrayal of a progressive monarch was felt to be scandalously disrespectful, not only trampling on national history but trashing deep-seated practices of deference and cultivated restraint. To see the fourth king of the Chakri dynasty turned into a tragic buffoon, with his legacy awarded to a superior Englishwoman, was intolerable, and the movie was denied a license: it could not be screened. The artistic team behind The King and I had liberal sympathies, yet if one tries to watch the musical with Thai eyes it becomes an act of colonization — an invasion that seizes not land or material products but a people's sense of their past. - Alfred Habegger, Masked: The Life of Anna Leonowens.
    • Bhumibol hated the law making the king infallible — because it implies the King isn't human. However Thailand today is run by a military dictatorship and the King is a mostly powerless role-model figurehead, like Princess Diana. Like her, Bhumibol liked to be Royals Who Actually Do Something, setting a legacy of personal connection and involvement. But his speech asking his subjects to please criticize him was smoothed over as a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment. The junta reinforced existing lese-majeste laws so they can put more people in jail.
  • Blooper: During the climax, in several frames Kralahome can clearly be seen wearing his usual red shirt and black pants instead of the formal tuxedo he wears through the entire final act.
  • Box Office Bomb: The 1999 version failed to make its budget of $25 million. It only made $11,993,021. And that's not all, read below.
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  • Creator Killer: For the 1999 version, the 3-strike combination of overwhelmingly bad reviews, poor box office receipts, and the Rodgers and Hammerstein estate barring any additional animated adaptations of their work effectively ended any chance of Richard Rich being able to make a name out of being a master animator, and possibly vindicated Disney's decision to fire him 14 years earlier in the wake of The Black Cauldron. It and Quest for Camelot also locked the career of writer David Seidler away from movie theaters until 2010. Both films are major parts of the string that led to the closure of Warner Animation until The New 10's and DreamWorks Animation effectively supplanting Warner Bros. as the traditional Arch-Enemy to Disney as far as animation goes.
  • Dawson Casting: Mongkut was fifty-eight when Anna arrived in Siam and lived to be sixty-three. Yul Brynner was thirty-six making this an inversion. Martin Vidnovic on the other hand was fifty-one.
  • Dueling Movies: A downright bizarre version where the dueling films were versions of the same story: the same year the animated film came out also saw the release of Anna and the King, a live action film starring Chow Yun-Fat and Jodie Foster. And it wasn't received very well either.
  • Enforced Method Acting: A variation. Marni Nixon initially had a hard time singing for Deborah Kerr because, at the age of twenty one, it was tricky to make the singing sound more mature. But she caught a cold sometime before the recording sessions, and that deepened her voice.
  • Franchise Killer: The animated adaptation turned into this for any more animated Rodgers and Hammerstein projects when their estate was disgusted with the Disneyfication of their work and put the kibosh on the animation ideas.
  • No Adaptations Allowed: With the Animated Adaptation flopping on the box office, any future animated adaptations on the works of Rodgers and Hammerstein are banned ever since.
  • Non-Singing Voice:
    • In the 1956 film, Marni Nixon dubbed Deborah Kerr, who played Anna, Leona Gordon dubbed Rita Moreno, who played Tuptim (Moreno did her own singing for "Small House of Uncle Thomas"), and Rueben Fuentes dubbed Carlos Rivas, who played Lun Tha.
    • In the 1999 animated film, Miranda Richardson provides Anna's speaking voice, while Christiane Noll sings.
  • Old Shame: The estates of Rodgers and Hammerstein were greatly displeased with the liberties the animated film took with its original source material, thus banning the creation of any more animated movies based off the duo's works. Some of the voice cast, most notably Martin Vidnovic who played the King, have also since expressed dissatisfaction with the film.
  • The Red Stapler: Deborah Kerr's iconic pink ballgown. You'll find plenty of replicas these days, some of them going for thousands.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The studio wanted the 1956 film to have the King gored by an elephant rather than suffering public humiliation. Yul Brynner however insisted they stick to the stage version.
    • Maureen O'Hara was nearly cast as Anna, and she sent sample recordings of her singing voice (which would not need to be dubbed). Although Darryl Zanuck loved it, Richard Rogers said "no pirate queen is going to play my Anna." Brynner personally recommended Deborah Kerr for the role afterwards.
    • Dorothy Dandridge was offered the role of Tuptim, but was advised to refuse it - as Tuptim was technically a slave. The role ended up going to Rita Moreno instead.
    • There was an announcement that Rodgers and Hammerstein would write some new songs specifically for the film. This didn't come to pass, and the film does not contain any original songs.
    • Had the 1999 film not flopped, an animated version of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma! would have been the follow-up project.


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