Director: Robert Wise
Original Release: 1965
My Overall Rating: 4 stars out of 5
The story is well-known, though far from historically accurate. Maria is an aspiring nun in Salzburg, Austria. She goes to work as a governess for the family Von Trapp. The stern sea captain and his seven children are a tough sell but, of course, she wins them over. Then, with the Anschluss, the Nazis demand the captain join their navy, so the family must leave the country. The truth was less dramatic. Yes, there was a musical family Von Trapp but they left by train rather than hiking over the Alps. The real-life Georg Von Trapp had an Italian passport so there was no need to hide behind gravestones at the abbey.
The Sound of Music is front-loaded, not uncommon for musicals. Most of the best songs and charming scenes occur in the first half. The second act is darker and slower. We watched the movie over two nights which worked out well. Otherwise, the story drags towards the end.
Sometimes, the saccharine sweetness can be a bit much. Christopher Plummer (the Captain) once described working with Julie Andrews as "being hit over the head with a big Valentine's Day card, every day." However, there is one scene that gets me every time - guaranteed waterworks. When the Captain discovers his children singing to the Baroness for the first time, his expression is so pure, so genuine - unmistakable paternal pride. It's a scene I never fully appreciated until I became a father myself.
Mainly on the strength of her two most famous films, Julie Andrews was the biggest movie star in the world in the mid-to-late 1960s. Her career has been unspectacular ever since but with The Sound of Music still airing on television every year at Christmas, she is assured of her place in world culture for generations to come. Mary Martin, however, was upset not to get the part of Maria as she had originated the role on Broadway - similar to Andrews having been passed over for My Fair Lady. But Ms. Martin was a smart lady. She managed to get a cut of the movie's box office take. She made $8,000,000 on the film as opposed to the $250,000 Andrews got for playing the role.