Why Adam Pontipee, Henry Higgins, and the King of Siam Don't Bother Me (aka Why I Love Them)

Hello, beauties!  I apologize for my slight absence recently--I was at the beach again.  It was fun (beach-combing is one of my new favorite things), but at the same time…

Anyway!  While there, I suddenly got an idea for a post that I really liked ("People, I've had an epiphany!").  You guys probably know already that I have a bit of an obsession with musical theatre, particularly older musicals.  Y'see, the 1950s and '60s were the golden era of musical theatre, in my personal opinion.  (Also, I did a school project that involved researching musical theatre, and from what I read it seems that musical production was at its peak at that time, at least in America.  But I might have gotten that wrong, so feel free to correct me.)  

I mean, think about all the famous musicals made in the '50s and '60s!  The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, The King and I, Showboat, The Fiddler on the Roof, South Pacific, Oklahoma!, Singin' in the Rain, An American in Paris, Top Hat, Easter Parade, State Fair…the list goes on and on!  (I haven't seen all of those musicals yet, to my shame.  But I intend to eventually.)  And then, of course, there are the lesser-known Howard Keel fests productions;)

So anywho, the older musicals are generally speaking my favorites (exceptions being Evita and The Phantom of the Opera, of course).  I love the costumes, the music (usually), the witty dialogue, and especially the eccentric characters.  Today I want to talk about three of those characters in particular, characters whom I love, but who seem to (understandably) irritate some people:

Adam Pontipee (from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers)
Henry Higgins (from My Fair Lady)
The King of Siam (from The King and I)

Now…Adam.  Adam is…an interesting fellow.  The trouble is, there isn't a whole lot rolling around in his cranial cavity.  He's sexist and frankly stupid, BUT, people, BUT, he changes.  He starts out as a good-naturedly self-absorbed person who thinks women are there to be carried off by men to marry them, but after a few hard but well-deserved words from Millie (with whom, he finally realizes, he's fallen in love), he figures out that he's gotta shape up if he wishes to be a good husband and be loved in return by his wife.  

Of course, if I'm being fully honest, the main reason I love Adam is that he's played by Howard Keel, who, if you didn't know, is in possession of a great smile, a glorious laugh, and one of the finest voices on God's green earth.  So yeah.  (I also love him in Calamity Jane and Kiss Me Kate.  But don't even get me started on that dreadful performance in Showboat.  It pains me, I tell you, pains me to recall his role in that film.  I get that he was supposed to be a leetle "slick," but honestly, if you want us to like a character, don't make him look and behave like a flipping charlatan.)  His songs, though displaying how much is wrong with the way he thinks, are just sooo hilariously fun.  Like "Sobbin' Women."  Pure gold, even though it's a terrible thing that he incites his brothers to do.

Ah, the immortal 'Enry 'Iggins.  Now, I am well aware that a number of you--yes, you, I'm sending pointed looks at you--dislike Higgins.  You love MFL, of course (because to do otherwise violates the laws of human sanity), but Professor Higgins just gets under your skin.  (And as for he and Eliza?  Pish-tosh!  Allan Jay Lerner missed the mark on that one.  Good ol' George Bernard Shaw had the better vision.)  I get this in some ways, but in others I feel I must be allowed to defend Higgins against the charges laid at his door;)

First of all, let me just say that I completely agree with the popular summation of Henry Higgins' character.  He's a bratty, rude, thoughtless, self-absorbed, arrogant misogynist.  While no one could accuse him of a lack of educated intellect, he is at heart a spoiled child who stamps his feet and hollers when he doesn't get his way.  But he is also one of my favorite screen characters ever.  Why?  Well, there's the obvious reason of his delightful lines.  Everyone, I think, loves to watch Henry Higgins at work.  

But I also love this character because for all his guffawing and I-shall-never-let-a-woman-in-my-life-ing and bravado and I-have-my-own-spark-of-divine-fire-ing, he comes, in the end, to depend on Eliza.  He comes to--horror of horrors!--give the intelligence and insight and relationship of a woman credence.  Though he fights his attachment to her tooth and claw, even he finally has to concede defeat in the last scene of My Fair Lady.  I love the way he tries to reason with himself in that scene, torn between his dratted ego and his affection for Eliza:  "I was serenely independent and content before she came!  Surely I could always be that way again…" ~ "And yet…I've grown accustomed to a trace of something in the air…accustomed…to her face."  (He's so helpless.  I revel in it;D)

The King of Siam (whom I'm nicknaming T. K.) might be my favorite out of these, but I'm not sure.  He reminds me a lot of Henry Higgins, but something about him is slightly more approachable because, even though in theory he dismisses the idea of love, you can clearly see that he loves his children and friends deeply.  He is also, when no one happens to be contradicting his opinions, a generally amiable fellow, and one thing I really love about him is that he is so eager for truth.  He searches for it, and even if he does not come to the right conclusions, "this one tried.  He tried very hard."  Even when he's dying, "I want to stay here, in room of knowledge."  

T. K. is stubborn as heck and extremely sexist, like Adam and Henry, but he too finally admits that the women in his life have been right more often than not.   He's irritable and fractious at times, but he also likes the challenger spirit in Anna, I think.  And he's also just a little adorable.  "Put your best foot forward, your Majesty."  *looks at her, puzzled, and raises his left foot*

So, anyway, there's just a little spiel about why I don't mind these three guys, rude and messed-up and politically incorrect though they may be;)

Who are some of your favorite men from older musicals?  Or do you prefer the newer ones?


  1. I've only watched Seven Brides once, and barely remember it so have no opinion on Adam.

    But, I do like the King of Siam, mainly because his issues are based in his culture. I mean, if all of our social mores were like his society, we would behave much the same. So I can't hold his behavior really against him all that much. Plus, I love Yul Brynner, and that's kind of a must in liking TK.

    As for Henry, alas, I have a love/hate relationship with him. I'm really not fond of Rex Harrison, but don't mind the character of Higgins. I just would have loved him so much better had he been played by someone else.

    My fav musicals are usually the ones from the 50s and 60s. I love State Fair because I'm a huge Bobby Darin fan and even Pat Boone is in that film so it's awesome for me. I'm mostly fond of Erik from PotO, unless we're talking Gerard Butler who I am firmly convinced did a hatchet job on that role. Ooh, I also love Dean Martin in Bells are Ringing, and of course, Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof. I think for me, I'm more of a fan of movies with music, than of actual musicals.

    Although I ADORED Bride and Prejudice! Oh my gosh, that is such a cute musical! Loved Naveen Andrews and Daniel Gillies in that film!

    1. You should watch it again…;)

      Exactly. TK was mainly just a victim of his culture, and he did strive for knowledge, and was open to the possibility of his society's conventions being wrong. And Yul Brynner…I haven't watched his other movies, but I LOVED him in this. I think he thoroughly deserved the Oscar;)

      Haha, well, personally, I do like Rex Harrison as an actor and kind of think he OWNED the role of Higgins, but…to each her own:D

      Yay! *high five* I really need to watch State Fair. I think I might have watched it maybe once? A long time ago? But anyway. Yeah. I love Erik, too! But I have to say that although I do prefer some different portrayals of Erik, I do think that Gerard Butler's performance is a little harshly judged in the blogosphere. But *ahem* that's another conversation for another time;)

      Cool! Oh, I've seen Bride and Prejudice on Netflix, but haven't watched it. I should definitely give it a try! I didn't know it was a musical, so that's a huge incentive:D

  2. If you like the 50s and 60s in general, you might be interested in my blog *ahem*. I'll just make it easy for you: 1900fashion.blogspot.com.
    The King of Siam is probably one of my favorite men from musicals, for exactly the reasons you came up with. There are so many musicals I love, I'm not even going to attempt to put them all down here . . .
    When all's said and done, good post!

    1. Thanks, KB! I enjoyed looking through your blog, and I'm gonna go over there and comment soon:D
      Yuuusss, isn't he adorable and precious and just asklaskdghalksdgj?

      Thanks again!:)

  3. I think my favorite male character from a musical is Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof and the dad in The Sound of Music:)

    1. Ahhh, I love the Captain from The Sound of Music, Meredith! He's wonderful:) (And Tevye, too, but I'm not as big on him as on Georg, hehe.)

  4. Great post! I agree with you with Adam and Henry Higgins but I haven't seen The King and I yet (I mean to someday!).

    1. Thanks, Lois! Oooh, yeah, you should try it! I remembered having watched it a long time ago, and not really liking it, but then I re-watched it recently and fell in love;)

  5. I adore TK -- I want to hug him, doctor him up so he doesn't die, and feed him cookies. Henry Higgins makes me laugh, but I don't love him. And Adam... I can never decide how much I like Adam. A lot? Some? It varies. He's quite funny, though.

    Favorite men from musicals... I love Curly in Oklahoma! and Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls and Jerry in An American in Paris and Bernardo in West Side Story and both Bob Wallace AND Phil Davis in White Christmas...

    1. YES! "Hug him, doctor him up so he doesn't die, and feed him cookies"--that's perfect! You know how you watch a movie/tv show or read a book, and sometimes you discover a character and think, "You are my baby and I will protect you from the cruelty of the world!"? Haha, I have that a lot;)

      Great list of guys! I remember quite liking Curly and the men from White Christmas :D

    2. Oh man, I get super protective of fictional characters. (Often ones that don't seem like they'd need protecting, like Thor.) And then if someone criticizes them, I get very upset, which is slightly silly I suppose, but true.

    3. Yup. Haha! Sometimes the ones I'm protective of are super rough-n-tough and don't seem to need it, like Tom Harte, and then sometimes they're excessively vulnerable and innocent and sweet and need it, like Parker or Minnie and Alf, haha. I get upset if someone criticizes "my" characters, too. "DON'T COME NEAR MY CHILDREN."

  6. Ugh. Blogger took away two of my comments so hopefully this time won't fail me. *glares at computer*
    I haven't seen Seven Brides for Seven Brothers but I hope to as soon as I can find a copy. :-D
    I like 'enry 'iggins quite a lot, although just because he can pout hilariously (why can't I pout as funny as Henry, or as adorably as Marge off State Fair?!) and he's so quotable. I don't "love" him because he's so nasty most of the time, but I do love to see him helpless, like you said. Hehe. That sounded so wicked. :-P
    The Kind of Siam is my favourite from all of thee above! He's so hilarious and well-meaning. I mean, he's Yul Brunner, what could go wrong? ;-) (How can that guy make a great Pharaoh, cowboy and kind of Siam?!) I find the part about "Moses, Moses, Moses!" very funny because of the fact that he plays Pharaoh off the Ten Commandments. Hehe. I bet he wanted to put that in the script. ;-)
    I love Jean Valjean off Les Mis, Pat off State Fair, Dodger off Oliver!, Howard Keel's character (whose name I've forgotten) off Calamity Jane and his portrayal of Frank off Annie Get Your Gun. There are plenty more but I've got other things I should be doing besides racking my brain. ;-)
    I greatly enjoyed this post - I am discovering that I love musicals very much indeed! :-D
    ~Miss Meg March

    1. Blogger can be so annoying sometimes.
      Yes, do! 'T'is wonderful!
      Yes, isn't his pout the BEST?! "Henry, don't grind your teeth." Hehe, yeah, I feel sort of bad about mentioning that, but…it's fun to see his helpless vulnerability after his bullying ways;)
      TK IS WONDERFUL. I really need to watch more of his movies. Haha, yeah, that makes sense about the "Moses" in the script XD
      Ooh, ooh! Wild Bill Hickock! I really liked that one, too:D I want to watch Annie Get Your Gun, but I can't find it:(
      Yay! Welcome to the musicals fandom;D

  7. HAHA. I could've seen this coming, couldn't I! :-)

    I do like Adam Pontipee, although, yes he IS very sexist. And he sings VERY mean song which I LOVE. (Not the mean-ness, the songs. haha.) But THEN HE HAS SUCH A VOICE TO MAKE UP FOR IT. I know what you mean! And in the end he's so much better, haha.

    Henry Higgins. Haha, thanks for your pointed look, Olivia. He IS FUNNY and he's a Great Character, but he's AWFUL. :-) I actually agree with you though. I do love something about him. He's *so* much fun to watch.

    I haven't seen the King and I for ages, so I can't really comment on that. But I do remember I found him very ugly, soooo. :-P

    Great post. Love your way of writing, old thing. :-)

    ~ Naomi

    1. Yeah, probably;D

      YOU UNDERSTAND. I know the messages are awful, but they're SO DARN FUN.

      Hee, anytime. And you're right--he is Awful, that's true;) There's just a sort of charisma about him…

      Haha, why, Naomi! How rude;) No, but seriously, you should try it again! If only for Anna's gowns:D

      I say, friend of my youth, jolly big of you! Fondest thanks:)

  8. This was great, Olivia! And very well written. I have to say I'm one of those who never really liked Henry Higgins, but I'm afraid I'm also one who "violates the laws of human sanity" because I don't really care for My Fair Lady itself. It rather irked me the last time I watched it. Though, granted, that was a long time ago...

    Adam Pontipee! Yeah! Boy, does he have wrong notions. But it's pretty sweet when he comes around at the end. He realizes he has a heart. Oh, and the way he looks at his little baby! Aww! :)

    I haven't seen the King and I in ages so my remembrance of T.K. is pretty limited. However, I think I could see myself liking some of the things you mentioned about him. He sounds like he has a nice side to him, despite all his faults.

    Thanks for this post! It was a joy to read!

    ~Miss March

    1. Thank you, Miss March! I appreciate that:)

      WHAT. *gasp* Horrors! Heehee, no, it's okay. (But you should give it another try. It's really pretty awesome:D)

      Aaaaaack, you reminded me of that part! HIS FACE WHEN HE SEES HANNAH. And then when he reaches out his hand and she grabs his finger…I melt. Too precious:D I agree, he is a sweetie at the end:)

      He definitely does. I like his humor and openness:)

      Aww, thank YOU for reading and for your comment!

  9. I been waitin' for this. :-)

    Oh, Howard Keel....be still my heart!!! I've never really had a deep opinion of Adam, to be honest -- I just always liked him because he's funny and he sings good. (Shallow me!) But you're right, at first there really doesn't seem to be a whole lot rolling around in is cranial cavity. (Great expression, by the way.) :-) Good ol' Millie, the way she drills some sense into him.

    I've never seen My Fair Lady. *gasp!* I know. That one just passed me by in my childhood, it seems. But I know enough of the fandom to know that you either love Henry Higgins or you don't. :-)

    As for The King of Siam....I BARELY remember him, so I've nothing to say.

    Say, have you ever seen White Christmas? If you like musicals from the 50's, you'd probably love it. (Plus it's just so gosh-darn cute.) Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye are legendary together.

    I love the way your write, Olivia. It's so much fun to spend time on your blog. :-)


    1. Heehee, yes;D

      Haha, well, yeah, that's basically why I love him, too. I only really had deep thoughts about Higgins and TK. Millie is awesome. I love her:)

      *GASP* Emma! My dear girl. How have you survived?! ;) That's true. It's typically either good-natured dislike or amused liking;) But seriously WATCH MY FAIR LADY!!!!!!

      I have seen White Christmas, once, and every time I see it in the library or a store I keep thinking, "I've got to watch that again," but for some reason haven't gotten around to it yet. I do remember really liking it:)

      *blushes* Aww, shucks! Thank you so much, girlie! That means a lot to me:)

  10. Dig this post! I LOVE Seven Brides as a whole, and I love Howard Keel, but I can't say I actually love Adam himself in that movie. I know you don't like him in it, but I prefer his character in Showboat. LOL! I always bawl at the end of that when he meets his daughter.

    And I love the King in King and I, but then I love Yul Brynner. The dance scene in that movie is probably my favorite scene in any musical ever made, just because it is so awesome and so romantic.

    But, I have never been able to sit all the way through My Fair Lady, so no opinion on him.

    As for my own favorite characters? Joe Cable and Luther Billis from South Pacific (1958) and Pat from State Fair (1945). Adore those three!

    1. DKoren, I LOVE Joe Cable too!!!

    2. So glad you enjoyed it, DKoren! Haha, well, at least you like the movie itself;D Hee, yeah…I wasn't super happy with him in that movie. I think the movie itself was just very different from what I anticipated, and I wasn't a fan of his wardrobe and makeup choices, shall we say. But that one song in Showboat, "Ol' Man River"--OH MY. Respect.

      Squee yes the dance scene!!!!! I lurve it. Like you said, awesome and romantic.

      Oh, dear. Whatever shall we do with you?!;)

      Cool! I need to watch South Pacific and State Fair.

  11. It's kinda hard to believe, but I've never seen any of these three movies :) So . . . I can't really comment on whether I like the dudes or not. In general, I tend to dislike characters with deep flaws, EXCEPT when they actually recognize those flaws and try to improve. Like, I hate Frank Churchill (from Emma) with a fierce and burning hatred because, not only is he seriously flawed, but it seems to me that he never really tries to change. Whereas, on the other hand, I really loved Red Pollard in Seabiscuit--he's a far-from-perfect character, but he KNOWS that. He knows he has issues, and he does try, gropingly, to work on them.

    1. Oh! Well, m'dear old thing, for your own sake, fix that forthwith! Seriously, they're wonderful movies:D I get that. I can never decide where I stand on Frank Churchill. I've never watched Seabiscuit, hehe, so I can't really comment on him…but I do remember my parents warning me to never EVER watch it (at least, I think it was Seabiscuit…) because it would make me exceedingly mad. (I'm excessively attached to animals in general, you see.)

  12. That can't have been Seabiscuit. There are no animal deaths in Seabiscuit. None. Zero. Zilch. I promise you.
    Seriously, I would highly recommend it--it's just an amazing story. And the acting is FANTASTIC. Although, I would warn you to check out a Plugged-In review first just to make sure you'll be okay with the Morally Objectionable Parts, cause there are a few.

    1. Oh, oops. My mom verified that it was actually Far Lap. So yeah.

      Okie dokie! I'll keep an eye out for it:D

    2. Oh, sorry--I didn't see this before :) Yeah, I think you should see it, if you can, because it's Awesome. :-)


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