Yul Brynner as the King of Siam and Deborah Kerr as the strong-willed schoolteacher Anna kick up their heels in the spirited ‘Shall We Dance’ from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The King and I.
‘Shall We Dance’ is #54 in AFI’s list of the 100 top movie songs of all time.
The King And I was written for Gertrude Lawrence and her appearance in the film was contractually guaranteed. However, she was diagnosed with cancer while playing the role on Broadway and died during the run. Dinah Shore, a singer as well as an actress, was considered for the role of Anna in the movie. Maureen O’Hara, who had a pleasant soprano voice, was originally cast, but Richard Rodgers did not agree to the casting. It was Yul Brynner who pressed for Deborah Kerr to play the role. Marni Nixon provided Kerr’s singing for the film. Nixon and Kerr worked side-by-side in the recording studio for songs which combined speaking and singing. Nixon also dubbed Kerr’s singing again for the film An Affair to Remember (1957).
Rita Moreno, who was under contract to Fox, was invited merely for a test, but impressed the producers enough to be selected for the part.
The biography of Dorothy Dandridge claims the Oscar-nominated African-American singer/actress was offered the role of Tuptim in partial fulfillment of her 3-picture contract with 20th Century-Fox, but Dandridge allowed Otto Preminger (her undercover boyfriend at the time) to talk her out of it because it was not the lead role. Rumors also circulated that Dandridge did not want to play a slave.
Three songs recorded for the film’s soundtrack were never filmed and do not appear in the motion picture (though three are on the soundtrack album: “Shall I Tell You What I Think of You?” “I Have Dreamed” and “My Lord and Master”). “I Have Dreamed” and another song that was not used in the film, “Western People Funny”, survive in the released film only as orchestral underscoring.
The film was a big success upon release, both critically and financially. However, due to the representation of King Mongkut of Siam, the film is banned in Thailand. – Edited from Wikipedia