Released in 1946, this is the first of four films based on material from the book by Margaret Landon about Anna Leonowens, a 19th-century schoolteacher who becomes a governess to the King of Siam's many children. Irene Dunne and Rex Harrison are the leads in this historical drama that is a faithful adaptation of real-life events, hindered somewhat by the casting of the obviously very Western Harrison as a Siamese monarch. It would be 53 years later before filmmakers approached the material again with an equally serious, sumptuous and historically meticulous attitude, in the Jodie Foster 1999 vehicle Anna and the King. In between, the more successful, more famous, and more frivolous musical version, The King and I (1956), became a theatrical evergreen. And an animated version of The King and I (1998) was made. Besides being the first, the original Anna and the King of Siam has the advantage of a historically accurate attitude without the imposition of later, anachronistic notions of political correctness.
by Michael Betzold review