Strong-willed Englishwoman Irene Dunne (the Anna of the title) arrives at the court of King Rex Harrison to teach his wives and 67 children. The clash of cultures is immediate, with the very British Anna refusing to bend to the more outlandish demands of her new surroundings, and Harrison himself torn between modernity and tradition.
The 1946 film is something of a cultural relic itself, now, and is something of a postcolonialist’s nightmare, what with constant references to the “h…lf-barbaric” nature of Siam, and the fact that the principle Siamese are played by the extremely Causasian Harrison and Lee J. Cobb (as his first minister). Unconvincing make-up and pigeon English aside, though, the performances are a lot of fun (Cobb radiates sardonic amusement from every pore), and the exchanges are sharp. Not the most important entry in the Fox Studio Classics series, but certainly worth tracking down.
The usual choices are on offer here: the original mono and a new 2.0 stereo mix. There is very little rear-speaker action on the 2.0 track, but nor is there a problem with surround dialogue. There is some sibilance on the dialogue, and minor distortion to some of the music, but there is no static.
The print is in excellent condition. There is a bit of flicker, but the grain is very minimal, and there is no damage, be it speckling or otherwise. The black-and-white tones are great, with fine balance and shading.
Virtually unique among the Studio Classics releases, this one has no commentary track, and that is a disappointment, given how good most of them are. All you have is an A&E Biography episode about the real Anna Leonowens (stripping away a lot of her self-created mythology), Movietone News footage of the premiere, and the theatrical trailer. The menu is basic.
Good film, fun dialogue, great print, decent sound. The extras are the weak link here, thought Biography episode is interesting.
Special Features List
- A&E Biography: “The Real Story of Anna Leonowens”
- Movietone Newsreel
- Theatrical Trailer