The King and I (1956)

Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019, 7 p.m.

Where: Reading Cinemas Grossmont with TITAN XC, 5500 Grossmont Center Drive, La Mesa | get directions

Cost: Not available

Age limit: Not available

Seldom is heard two more discouraging words in the lexicography of cinema than “Fox Musicals.” The sobriquet stands alongside “Live-Action Disney” as an exigent skull and crossbones, the bluff buildup to an inevitable huge letdown. Warners’ Depression-era kaleidoscopes were once revived with almost as much frequency as their lavish MGM counterparts from the ‘50s. Fox had a lock on Technicolor tune fests in the ‘40s, but with the exception of The Gang’s All Here, even the bravest booker steered clear of Betty Grable musicals. When asked why I had never made it all the way through The King and I, the answer always came back the same: “I’m saving it for my death-bed.” But if last night’s maiden screening was any indication, it neither killed me nor made me stronger. Sure, it forever preserved Yul Brynner’s signature role on film, but at what cost? Long before Fathom Events made it their stock in trade, the positioning of Leon Shamroy’s camera Fourth Row Center gave off the impression of canned theatre. Walter Lang directed.

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