Anna and the King of Siam with Irene Dunne and Rex Harrison
Rex Harrison is one of those stars who you can love one minute and feel all but indifferent about the next. Or maybe it’s just me. That’s always possible, but it seems his likability (as an actor) kind of switches gears from film to film.
Again, it could very well just be me, so don’t take it as the Gospel truth or anything, but he simply doesn’t strike me as an actor who maintains either a high opinion or a low one. That could actually work toward his benefit (she says, after recently rewatching The Foxes of Harrow to see if it was any better the second time… it wasn’t – and my beloved Maureen O’Hara’s in it, if anyone would love it, I would but, unfortunately, it’s pretty average).
Some stars can come out of a bad or average film unscathed, while others carry it with them like a stench. Rex Harrison, for me, is somewhere between the two.
Don’t get me wrong, I think he was a very, very fine actor and when he was given a role and a movie that showcased his talent, he was extraordinary (Anna and the King of Siam, My Fair Lady…). For me, however, in the lesser films, he was simply quite average. I wish he had avoided the films that brought his reputation as an actor down and had only done the ones that lived up to his talent.
Anna and the King of Siam is one of my favorite Rex Harrison films. You can tell that he took care with his speech and worked hard on the role. It shows. He is wonderful in this film.
Naturally Irene Dunne is also outstanding as Anna. This extraordinary actress was one of the greatest actresses of all time and so incredibly versatile.
She’s also one of the stars with an inexplicable lack of name-recognition that irks me most. Seriously, she should be a household name, yet it’s generally only those of us who spend most of our days in Old Hollywood who are familiar with her and her work. I simply hate it when stars don’t have the lasting recognition they deserve.
Hollywood Yesterday is, more than anything, my personal mission to bring attention to as many stars as I possibly can.