Anna and the King of Siam Reviews
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.