Sunday, January 5, 2014

Family Movie Night: The Sound of Music

Title: The Sound of Music
Director: Robert Wise
Original Release: 1965
Choice: Mine
My Overall Rating: 4 stars out of 5
via Wikipedia
By any measure, The Sound of Music is one of the most commercially successful and culturally iconic films ever made.   Adjusted for inflation, it is one of the highest grossing movies of all-time.  In addition, the soundtrack is one of the best-selling recordings ever.  While Julie Andrews had rocketed to stardom in 1964's Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music was the film that cemented her status as the undisputed queen of movie musicals.



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.

32 comments:

  1. I do love The Sound of Music. I watched it a lot as a kid. So much so that this past December I drove my husband crazy when I watched the musical on whatever network was playing it (the Julie Andrew version, not that Carrie Underwood debacle) because I could recite almost every line and sing almost every song (Climb Every Mountain always eludes me).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think "Climb Every Mountain" is my father's favorite.

      Delete
  2. We showed that one to our kids not too terribly long ago. They really liked it. It was one of the first musicals we showed them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it was probably my first, too, if one doesn't count The Wizard of Oz.

      Delete
  3. I watched it growing up. I don't particularly remember a problem with its length.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nearly three hours - not so much by epic film standards but I think 20 minutes or so could have been trimmed.

      Delete
  4. The opening sequence is wonderful. Make you sit up and take notice.

    cheers, parsnip

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not many shows have the boldness to kick off with its biggest showstopper like that.

      Delete
  5. This is by far one of the greatest movies of all time. It is one of my favorite.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's tough to argue with that. I personally prefer West Side Story but for many, if not most, The Sound of Music is the standard by which all other movie musicals are judged.

      Delete
  6. I'm one of those people who watch it every year, usually by myself. When I was younger I just loved the singing...after I got older and realized what was going on, my heart broke every year that I realized the young man not only betrayed the Von Trapps to the Nazis, that meant he had turned into a Nazi,
    right before our eyes.

    So I love the story of Maria, and I love all the singing, but I hate the dark story of why they have to leave, and the story told right in front of us that happened all over in Germany and Austria, decent young man joined their army, were told to follow orders, and became Nazis.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a powerful story and one that resonates across generations. The character of Rolf was invented for the story but as you say, the conversion of young men to the cause of the Third Reich was all too real.

      Delete
  7. I like what C. Plummer said about Andrews. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He also referred to the movie "Sound of Mucus." Apparently, he hated the gig. Never mind the fact that it's the main reason most people know who he is.

      Evidently, he and Ms. Andrews are good friends anyway.

      Delete
    2. Well, that's distressing.

      Delete
    3. Yeah, it's hard pleasing some people. I suppose it's not uncommon in show biz - what looks like an ideal situation to the audience falls well short of that for the people involved.

      Delete
    4. He's actually in 'Somewhere in Time.' Bit of a painful role ...

      Delete
    5. One memorable Christopher Plummer role for me: Dragnet. I remember almost nothing about that movie except that he was a pretty good bad guy!

      Delete
    6. I never saw the series or the film(s?). But after reading your comment, the first thing that popped into my head was, 'DAN-ta-dan-tan!'

      (That is the beginning of the theme? I hope ...)

      Delete
    7. Yup, that's the theme. A film from that golden age when Tom Hanks was still making slapstick comedy. Dan Aykroyd was a great Joe Friday.

      Delete
    8. You know, I *really* like 'golden age' Hanks and Aykroyd, so I'm kinda thinking I need to watch this, now ...

      Delete
    9. Excellent! I haven't seen it since it was in theaters - saw it with my grandmother.

      Delete
    10. An extremely positive association for you, then.

      Delete
    11. Yeah, sort of a funny story. She lost a contact lens about a half hour into it and didn't actually get to see much of it. I didn't even realize what had happened until the movie was over and we grabbed an usher to help us look for it. She didn't fuss - didn't want me to miss the movie, after all.

      There is a risque scene I didn't know about going in. I was kind of glad she missed that one.

      Delete
    12. Ah! It's always soo awkward to have to sit through a sexy scene with almost anyone, much less a grandparent! I'm sorry she lost her contact, though. That stinks. But to bear it with so much patience! She sounds like a sweet human being.

      Delete
    13. I knew she'd passed on. It sounds like I didn't with my last comment but I wanted to clarify that I remembered you'd lost her.

      Delete
    14. No worries. I do find it amusing that she seems to come up in discussion when talking about the borderline inappropriate movies we went to see together. I hadn't thought about the contact lens story in years.

      Delete
  8. A couple of years ago, my daughter (then 8) watched this film NON-STOP. It's kind of sad because we recently saw it again and she'd forgotten most of the plot (she seems to remember the songs better). You're right, the second part is almost like a different film--so dark. I like it more now as an adult than when I first saw it (I hated that Fredrick betrayed them!!!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I watch it differently as an adult, too. For obvious reasons, I'm a lot more sympathetic to the father character than I was when I was younger, especially as he starts to get a clue.

      Delete
  9. I saw this a dozen times in the theater before it ever hit TV.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That I cannot claim. It would be fun to see this one on the big screen, if only for the Austrian Alps.

      Delete