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Yul Brynner

Posted: June 8th, 2014, 2:56 pm
by moira finnie
Since many members have expressed a fondness for Yul Brynner, I thought that perhaps a thread devoted to his work might be welcome. The recent discovery of this video biography on youtube, interviewing those who knew him very well, reminded me that this was a unique performer, with considerable power and, as is delineated, limitations in his career because he was such a regal presence. I thought that this was quite sensitively done, with respect for his talent and for the individual.

What are your favorite Yul Brynner performances?

I think mine would be in Anastasia (1956) or The Journey (1960).

Re: Yul Brynner

Posted: June 8th, 2014, 3:45 pm
by Professional Tourist
Moira, thanks for the recommendations on the documentary and film The Journey -- I think I'll give them a try. I'd like to see a reteaming of Brynner with Deborah Kerr.

I'm partial to his films of the 1950s, particularly The King and I, The Ten Commandments, and Anastasia.

As a kid I had tried to watch him in The Sound and the Fury on television, but couldn't sit through it. I may try it again. Also thinking of trying The Magnificent Seven.

I loved seeing him in The King and I on Broadway, in the 1970s revival. He was still in very good form. :)

Re: Yul Brynner

Posted: June 8th, 2014, 4:15 pm
by RedRiver
At the time of his death, he was working on a biography of Mr. Clean.

Re: Yul Brynner

Posted: June 8th, 2014, 5:08 pm
by Western Guy
He was a man of presence. For anyone interested in learning about the "real" Yul Brynner, try to check out the biography of him written by his son Rock. There are some stories about the "man" that put the "image" to shame.

Also, for those unfamiliar with the early film work of Yul, check out "Port of New York" where he plays a charismatic but lethal drug dealer -- sporting hair yet!

Always entertaining in his film roles and of course a touching and sincere legacy:

And btw: This is fun. Jump to 14:20:

Re: Yul Brynner

Posted: June 8th, 2014, 6:49 pm
by knitwit45
I loved him in The Sound and the Fury. . With Hair! When he lays a fiery kiss on Joanne Woodward...I thought the theater seat had caught fire!! :shock: :shock:

Re: Yul Brynner

Posted: June 8th, 2014, 7:37 pm
by Lucky Vassall
Thanks to Moira for starting this thread, and to all who have added suggestions for films to watch. I'm afraid my only very recent viewing was of The King and I, which I could easily watch continuously. I have vague memories of enjoying The Journey and clear memories of his wonderful performance in The Magnificent Seven; two very different roles, and so very different from The King and I.

By one of those weird coincidences, I had just read an hour earlier the Angela Landsbury interview in the new book, "Nothing Like a Dame; Conversations with the Great Women of Musical Theater," by Eddie Shapiro, which mentions that she did a three-week stint in The King and I "to give that production some star power during Yul Brynner's vacation." It's no wonder he played that role so many times; it was the perfect match-up of actor and role.

That book, by the way, is a great read for those who love Broadway musical theater, then and now, from Elaine Stritch, Carol Channing and Chita Rivera to Audra McDonald, Idina Menzel and Laura Benanti.

Re: Yul Brynner

Posted: June 9th, 2014, 1:35 am
by Rita Hayworth
I have some issues with Yul Brynner because he did some roles that I thought that he should never done one of them is DANGER GROWS WILD a 1966 Movie that I fondly remember it in it's original title ... "Poppies Are Also Flowers" that includes an all star cast of Stephen Boyd, Senta Berger, Anthony Quinn, Angie Dickinson, Trevor Howard, and numerous others including Rita Hayworth, Gilbert Roland, Jack Hawkins, and Marcello Mastroianni - despite this all star cast this movie was an absolute bore. I was very disappointed in this movie. I saw this once and vowed never, ever see it again.

For his greatest roles ... it will come to you as a shock and I thoroughly enjoyed his performance as the Sharif in the ESCAPE FROM ZAHRAIN (1962), along with THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960), ANASTASIA (1956), INVITATION TO A GUNFIGHTER (1964), and VILLA RIDES in 1968 are the best that he did his career.

I was never was a fan of THE KING AND I (1956) and SOLOMON and SHEBA (1959) at all because I did not quite enjoyed these films at all. Both of them were entertaining and some ways elaborate and stylish - but, couldn't get over these fine films because they never, ever made a good impressions on me.

Great Thread Moira and I pretty sure that I will be contributing more as I share my thoughts on Yul Brynner.

Re: Yul Brynner

Posted: June 9th, 2014, 3:50 pm
by Lucky Vassall
I’ve already mentioned Eddie Shapiro’s new book, “Nothing Like a Dame,” about the leading ladies of Broadway. I just now finished reading the Patti Lupone interview, in which Yul gets mentioned.

Hope you enjoy and appreciate this exchange.

In answering a question about her reputation for making demands, Miss Lupone said, in part, referring to her role as Mama Rose in the “Gypsy” revival:

Patti Lupone: My demands were, “This is what I need to give you a year of my life....This is the hardest role I’ve done. I’m already fifteen years too old for it. I’m going to need transportation to and from the theater, I’m going to need a trainer....My demands were not green M&Ms...."

Eddie Shapiro: Do you think that the line gets blury sometimes? When Yul Brynner was touring in “The King and I,” he wanted every dressing room painted chocolate brown before he got there.

PL: Good for him. He is walking into an environment that is recognizable and he doesn’t have to adjust, it’s adjusted to him....

ES: But you get how that’s could be perceived as green M&Ms.

PL: And you know what?...This is what we need to get onstage eight shows a week. It is very hard work. So if Yul Brynner feels grounded in his brown dressing room at the Belasco, then when he’s at the Fox in St Louis, paint can help him feel like he’s at the Belasco. It helps focus. It’s about craft.

Re: Yul Brynner

Posted: June 9th, 2014, 5:59 pm
by moira finnie
I love the accounts that you have quoted from, Lucky. It is always stimulating for me to read about what has piqued the interest of others in their readings.

Based on what you have quoted and what I have read, Brynner was a demanding individual in his professional and private life (as Rock Brynner's very honest Yul: The Man Who Would Be King : A Memoir of Father and Son described in detail), but if it helped an artist perform at the top of their skill, perhaps that is not too much to ask. BTW, I should mention that Rock Brynner has done considerable research into his family's once-obscure origins. He wrote about this in a follow-up book, Empire and Odyssey: The Brynners in Far East Russia and Beyond and on his own website, found here:

Roc Brynner's half-sister, Victoria has written a book, Yul Brynner, Photographer. She is seen several times in the above documentary and an excerpt from her book can be seen here: ... -life.html

and here you can see some of the fine photographs by Yul Brynner:

Re: Yul Brynner

Posted: June 9th, 2014, 8:33 pm
by Lucky Vassall
Thanks for all the tips, Moira. Nice to know his birthplace honored him so nicely, and unlike most celebrities, his costume and pose instantly identify the man, even from the back.

I had no idea he was such a skilled photographer. His candid of Danny Kaye is particularly evocative of the kindness of the man. But I guess it shouldn't be such a surprise, most highly-talented people seem to be able to express that talent in more than one way.

Now off to the library for a little bio reading.

Re: Yul Brynner

Posted: June 12th, 2014, 3:11 pm
by MissGoddess
I have Victoria's book in my collection, one of the few books I could not part with.

My favorites are The Journey. and Invitation to a Gunfighter. He is also wonderful in The Brothers Karamazov.