Yul Brynner - Rotten Tomatoes

Yul Brynner

Highest Rated:   96% The King and I (1956)
Lowest Rated:   13% Return of the Seven (1966)
Birthday:  
Birthplace:   Vladivostok, Russian Empire (now Vladivostok, Russia)
During his lifetime, it was hard to determine when and where actor Yul Brynner was born, simply because he changed the story in every interview; confronted with these discrepancies late in life, he replied, "Ordinary mortals need but one birthday." At any rate, it appears that Brynner's mother was part Russian, his father part Swiss, and that he lived in Russia until his mother moved the family to Manchuria and then Paris in the early '30s. He worked as a trapeze artist with the touring Cirque D'Hiver, then joined a repertory theater company in Paris in 1934. Brynner's fluency in Russian and French enabled him to build up a following with the Czarist expatriates in Paris, and his talents as a singer/guitarist increased his popularity. And when Michael Chekhov hired Brynner for his American theater company, he added a third language -- English -- to his repertoire. After several years of regional acting, Brynner was hired by the Office of War Information as an announcer for their French radio service. In 1945, Brynner was cast as Tsai-Yong in the musical play Lute Song, which starred Mary Martin; the production opened on Broadway in 1946, and, though its run was short, Brynner won the Most Promising Actor Donaldson award. He went on to do theater in London and direct early live television programs in the States, including a children's puppet show, Life With Snarky Parker. In 1949, the actor made his movie debut as a two-bit smuggler in a Manhattan-filmed quickie Port of New York, which has taken on a video-store life of its own since lapsing into the public domain. On the strength of his Lute Song work of several years earlier, Brynner was cast as the King of Siam in Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1951 musical The King and I. The play was supposed to be a vehicle for Gertrude Lawrence, with the king an important but secondary role; but so powerful was Brynner's work that the role was beefed up in rehearsal, causing supporting actor Murvyn Vye to quit the show when Vye's only song was cut to give more stage time to Brynner. The King and I was an enormous hit, supplying Brynner with the role of a lifetime, one in which he would repeat brilliantly in the 1956 film version -- and win an Oscar in the process. Cecil B. DeMille, impressed by Brynner's King performance, cast the actor as the Egyptian Pharoah Rameses I in DeMille's multimillion-dollar blockbuster The Ten Commandments (1956). It became difficult for Brynner to play a "normal" character after this, so he seldom tried, although he came close to subtle believability in Anastasia (1956) and The Journey (1959). The first baldheaded movie idol, Brynner occasionally donned a wig or, as in Taras Bulba (1962), a Russian pigtail, but his fans (particularly the ladies) preferred him "scalped," as it were. Outside of his film work, Brynner was also an accomplished photographer, and many of his pictures appeared in major magazine spreads or were used as official studio production stills. Hollywood changed radically in the '70s, and the sort of larger-than-life fare in which Brynner thrived thinned out; so, in 1972, the actor agreed to re-create his King and I role in an expensive weekly TV series, Anna and the King. But it lasted all of eight weeks. Brynner's last major film role was in the sci-fi thriller Westworld (1973) as a murderously malfunctioning robot, dressed in Western garb reminiscent of the actor's wardrobe in 1960's The Magnificent Seven. What could have been campy or ludicrous became a chilling characterization in Brynner's hands; his steady, steely-eyed automaton glare as he approached his human victims was one of the more enjoyably frightening filmgoing benefits of the decade. In 1977, Brynner embarked upon a stage revival of The King and I, and though he was dogged by tales of his outrageous temperament and seemingly petty demands during the tour, audiences in New York and all over the country loved the show. The actor inaugurated a second King tour in 1985; this time, h

Highest Rated Movies

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT BOX OFFICE YEAR
No Score Yet Broadway's Lost Treasures
  • Actor
2003
No Score Yet Making of Westworld
  • Actor
2003
No Score Yet Death Rage
  • Peter Marciani
1977
33% Futureworld
  • Gunslinger
1976
No Score Yet The Ultimate Warrior
  • Carson
1975
86% Westworld
  • Robot Gunslinger
1973
No Score Yet The Serpent
  • Vlassov
1973
No Score Yet Fuzz
  • El Sordo
1972
No Score Yet Catlow
  • Catlow
1971
No Score Yet Romance of a Horsethief
  • Captain Stoloff
1971
No Score Yet Indio Black, sai che ti dico: Sei un gran figlio di..(Adios Sabata)
  • Sabata / Indio Black
1971
No Score Yet The Light at the Edge of the World
  • Kongre
1971
No Score Yet The World of Peter Sellers
  • Actor
1971
56% The Magic Christian
  • Bar Singer (uncredited)
1970
20% The Madwoman of Chaillot
  • The Chairman
1969
No Score Yet The Battle of Neretva
  • Vlado
1969
No Score Yet The File of the Golden Goose
  • Peter Novak
1969
No Score Yet Villa Rides
  • Pancho Villa
1968
No Score Yet The Double Man
  • Dan Slater / Kalmar
1967
No Score Yet Triple Cross
  • Col. Baron von Grunen
1967
No Score Yet The Poppy Is Also a Flower
  • Col. Salem
1966
13% Return of the Seven
  • Chris
1966
No Score Yet Cast a Giant Shadow
  • Asher Gonen
1966
No Score Yet Morituri
  • Capt. Muller
1965
No Score Yet Invitation to a Gunfighter
  • Jules Gaspard D'Estaing
1964
No Score Yet Flight from Ashiya
  • Sgt. Mike Takashima
1964
No Score Yet Kings of the Sun
  • Chief Black Eagle
1963
No Score Yet Taras Bulba
  • Taras Bulba
1962
No Score Yet Escape from Zahrain
  • Sharif
1962
No Score Yet Once More, with Feeling!
  • Victor Fabian
1960
90% The Magnificent Seven
  • Chris
1960
No Score Yet Le Testament d'Orphée
  • The Court Usher
1960
No Score Yet The Sound and the Fury
  • Jason Compson
1959
No Score Yet The Journey
  • Major Surov
1959
No Score Yet Solomon and Sheba
  • Solomon
1959
No Score Yet The Buccaneer
  • Jean Lafitte
1958
22% The Brothers Karamazov
  • Dmitri Karamazov
1957
90% Anastasia
  • Bounine
1956
94% The Ten Commandments
  • Rameses
1956
96% The King and I
  • King Mongkut of Siam
1956
No Score Yet Port of New York
  • Paul Vicola
1949

Quotes from Yul Brynner's Characters