Yul Brynner: King Mongkut vs. The Gunslinger

Yul Brynner

One actor. Two film roles. You tell us which . The most memorable. Or iconic. Or simply your favorite.

But before you pass judgment, a few words defending the “character” of each…


The case for King Mongkut

For his portrayal of King Mongkut in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The King and I, Yul won two Tony Awards. He won an Academy Award for the 1956 film version. And he also played the role in a short-lived version called Anna and the King airing on CBS television in 1972. Yul reigned as King for over 30 years, playing the role 4,625 times on stage from 1951 to his death in 1985. So to say Yul Brynner is the epitome of the character of King Mongkut is not hyperbole—the two are simply indistinguishable.

The case for The Gunslinger

Some may now call Westworld a pretty cheesy production. But in fact, at the time of its release Variety Magazine lauded the film as “solid entertainment” with “superbly intelligent serio-comic story values.” And a review of the DVD by The Daily Telegraph in 2008 called the film a “bleakly terrifying fable—and Brynner’s performance is chillingly pitch-perfect.” It may be an eye-opener for an older generation that folks today relate far better with a relentless, steely-eyed, killer android than a singing & dancing Siamese king from the 1860s.

Now that you’ve heard the arguments for both it’s time to render your verdict!