Anna and the King of Siam (1946)

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Postby Sonic Youth » Mon Jan 08, 2007 6:22 pm

flipp525 wrote:Gale Sondergaard manages to rise above the inherent stereotyping provided by her makeup and dress to turn in a quietly exceptional, Academy Award-nominated performance as the king's first wife, Lady Thiang.

Maybe it's because she had practice. She also played the Asian widow in William Wyler's "The Letter."
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Postby Big Magilla » Mon Jan 08, 2007 2:16 pm

Actually the story I heard was that Sondergaard was cast as the witch before it was decided to make her ugly at which point the producers decided to replace her with Edna May Oliver who turned down the role giving Margaret Hamilton the chance of a lifetime.
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Postby Reza » Mon Jan 08, 2007 11:27 am

flipp525 wrote:Interestingly, Sondergaard, whose visage was apparently the inspiration for the Evil Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, famously rejected the role of the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz upon learning that the witch would be "ugly".

The evil Queen in Snow White was actually very sexy / pretty (not the hag impersonation ofcourse). Sondergaarde's visage was not used for the hag. Therefore, I can well imagine why she refused the part of the witch in Oz.

You need to look past the non-asian actors playing asians in Anna and you will enjoy this classic film.

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Postby flipp525 » Mon Jan 08, 2007 9:52 am

ANNA AND THE KING OF SIAM (1946)

cast: Irene Dunne, Rex Harrison, Gale Sondergaard, Linda Darnell, Lee J. Cobb; dir: John Cromwell

In the first version of this story preceding the more popular Yul Brynner/Deborah Kerr collaboration as well as the Jodie Foster/Chow Yun-Fat version from a couple years ago, Anna and the King of Siam follows the story of an English school teacher sent to Siam to teach English and culture to the King's children. Predictably, she ends up educating the king himself the most. In a series of mishaps, hijinks, and cheap linguistic faux-pas, the king fumbles his way through contemporary American history ("Lincoln doesn't use elephants?!"), table manners (he forgets to give his guests napkins at a fancy dinner or to use his spoon for the soup) and social graces (he calls a particularly ugly woman an "anecdote").

In the ridiculous cinematic tradition of the time of employing white actors as Asians a la Katherine Hepburn in Dragon Seed, Rex Harrison and his black eyeliner-created slanty eyes plays the king and, even more out-of-place, Lee J. Cobb plays his deputy. Irene Dunne saves her character with one of her usual graceful, dependable performance and Gale Sondergaard manages to rise above the inherent stereotyping provided by her makeup and dress to turn in a quietly exceptional, Academy Award-nominated performance as the king's first wife, Lady Thiang. The scene in which she explains the murals is a touching moment in a film largely made up of Dunne's reaction shots to Harrison's buffonery.

Interestingly, Sondergaard, whose visage was apparently the inspiration for the Evil Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, famously rejected the role of the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz upon learning that the witch would be "ugly".

Linda Darnell as one of the king's wives, who is burned at the stake as a cautionary tale to others, is seductively serviceable.

** out of five




Edited By flipp525 on 1168269015
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