The Sound of Music (1965)
September 30, 2022 7:26 AM - Subscribe

Maria (Julie Andrews), a tomboyish postulant at an Austrian abbey becomes a governess in the home of widowed naval captain Georg von Trapp (Christopher Plummer) who has seven children. The free-spirited young woman brings a new love of life and music into the home.

Produced and directed by Robert Wise. Screenplay by Ernest Lehman, based on the stage musical by Howard Lindsay and Russel Couse (which was an uncredited adaptation of The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria von Trapp.)

83% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently streaming in the US on Disney Plus. Also available for digital rental on multiple outlets. JustWatch listing.
posted by DirtyOldTown (27 comments total)
Steph Cha has an amazing cynical Twitter thread inviting us to re-imagine the story:

"Next time you watch The Sound of Music, pretend you're not a charmed viewer watching a beloved classic for the twentieth time, but the Baroness' best friend, texting her for updates throughout her visit to Salzburg. You will be forced to despise the handsome Captain von Trash."
posted by BibiRose at 7:52 AM on September 30, 2022 [5 favorites]

I wonder for how many people out there, The Sound of Music was their first introduction to Nazi Germany...

The Sound of Music is one of those movies that has always been there. I like it enough that I bought it on DVD awhile ago, just for myself. There isn't really special about it, in my mind. It's just a solid, entertaining, eminently rewatchable movie. It is a movie that I appreciate more as an adult. As a child, the Captain's side of the story wasn't that big of deal. But now I love how doomful the movie feels. As a child, I didn't like the Baroness; she was in the way! But now I realize the Captain needed to communicate better! And now, it's fun to notice where the older kids manhandled Gretl to where she needed to be.
posted by Stuka at 8:40 AM on September 30, 2022

The Baroness definitely gets a raw deal here, but I will reluctantly give the movie props for not portraying her as an awful screaming harpy or a desperate cougar or something like that. (Compare An American in Paris, where Marlo has more than a little desperate-cougar vibe going.)

My high school womens' choir did the Preludium (the nuns' chant), call-and-response style. I was one of the callers, and somehow the choir had another girl whose voice meshed so perfectly with mine (IN UNISON, TOO, that's really rare) that it was downright eerie (as well as beautiful; I've never sung anything so effectively before or since). Still one of my favorite memories of high school.
posted by humbug at 8:42 AM on September 30, 2022 [7 favorites]

Schmigadoon! (which you should absolutely watch ASAP if you have not seen) did a hilarious sendup of the Baroness character/plot point in "I Always Never Get My Man."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:24 AM on September 30, 2022 [3 favorites]

My funniest association with this movie is that puberty hit some time between two viewings and suddenly I was all "Captain von Trapp is hot!", when before he'd honestly been background furniture in Maria's story.
posted by praemunire at 9:45 AM on September 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

My family owned this on VHS and it was long enough to be a two-tape set. As a child, I somehow missed that there was a second tape the first time I watched it, so for a while my conception of the story completely stopped at the intermission. Also I didn't pay a lot of attention the first time I watched it because it was a Boring Grownup Story, with no dragons or spaceships and too much emphasis on relationships and romance.

I was very surprised the next time I watched it to discover that there was more to the story and that the more to the story was Nazis.
posted by darchildre at 10:01 AM on September 30, 2022 [4 favorites]

darchildre, I had a similar experience, but where I was a little kid from the Central timezone, and whenever my grandma, who lived in the eastern would put this on, I would inevitably fall asleep before the second half. When I saw the whole thing as a teen, I was shocked to see there were Nazis.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:48 AM on September 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

My wife played Maria in a high school production, so our house is sometimes spontaneously filled with this that or some other piece of song from the musical.

It's very amusing when it happens because I don't think she's even aware when it happens. It just does.

So that's my primary experience with Sound of Music and I'll take it.
posted by drewbage1847 at 10:51 AM on September 30, 2022 [5 favorites]

I was Brigitta in my elementary school play. It was a fun one. Our Maria was a genuinely great singer - not just "good for a fourth grader" but really good. I can still sing all the songs. They edited out pretty much anything to do with the political situation in Austria at the time, so the plot was a straightforward love story of a sad veteran being reminded that life is good through the power of music, and ended with the wedding. It's weird how little you lose just removing any mention of Nazis from the Sound of Music. But the telegraph boy did basically just disappear without a trace, haha.

We watched the movie in class at some point and I remember all the Jewish kids (probably a quarter of the class) yelling and clapping when Captain von Trapp tore down the swastika flag. I really wonder what their parents thought of our denazified production.
posted by potrzebie at 12:22 PM on September 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

We rewatched this last year but it was really the first time for me since probably seeing it in school as a child. I was actually amazed at the quality of the filmmaking — the locations and sets are used incredibly well and the cinematography for the musical numbers is remarkable.

It's definitely a product of its time but the craft put into its creation surprised me — it was more on the level of the epics of the time than other musicals or romances.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 1:52 PM on September 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

I remember being a child who had learned just enough modern geography, but not enough history, to ask: 'how is he a Captain in the Austrian Navy?'
posted by bartleby at 2:00 PM on September 30, 2022 [6 favorites]

It's very interesting because it's such a bifurcated plot: the romance in the first half and the OH SHIT HERE COME THE NAZIS of the second half.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:40 PM on September 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

I remember being a child who had learned just enough modern geography, but not enough history, to ask: 'how is he a Captain in the Austrian Navy?'

Austro-Hungarian Navy.
Until they lost, obviously.
posted by madajb at 4:03 PM on September 30, 2022

I do love the movie, Julie Andrews is so effective at getting you to cringe and cheer right along with her at her every trial and triumph. Truly, the right actor in the right role.

It's unfortunate that it's portrayed as a true story while being mostly fiction. The von Trapp family is real, but Maria was the one with a temper, and Captain von Trapp liked music. Edelweiss was written for the show, and is not an Austrian tune at all. There was no Liesl, his name was Rupert and they changed all the other kids' names. The von Trapps fled, not in a "malfunctioning" car but by train, from the station located adjacent to their property. Six weeks later they were performing on Broadway, which is something I would have liked to see in the movie. As you can imagine the kids were honored that Hollywood would make a movie about them but disappointed by the looseness of it.

We toured Salzburg with a guide born in Linz, and she only saw the movie because she was going to be a tour guide! Apparently on Austrian television it was (like the production above) edited to remove all evidence of Nazis, rendering the plot murky at best. Most Salzburgers are now aware that Americans want to see the sights from the movie, but it's not a treasure like it is here. The actual cemetery from the church is more interesting than the sound stage version, and it's absolutely worth seeing the gardens and fountains. And the Mozart Geburtshaus, of course. If you're a science geek you'll also want to visit the birthplace of Christian Doppler. Beautiful city.
posted by wnissen at 4:07 PM on September 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

83% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

83%? Who doesn't love Julie Andrews?

Ah, I see, it's 'I'm too cool for schmaltz" hot takes.
posted by madajb at 4:07 PM on September 30, 2022 [4 favorites]

Also if you happen to love this movie and happen to be in a place where they do a Sing-a-long showing it's absolutely worth going just to be in the crowd as people hold up cell phones and lighters during Edelweiss. I went a couple of times at the Hollywood Bowl. So weird and totally unforgettable. They had a costume contest and my recollection is that fully half the entries were men dressed as the Baroness. One year Charmian Carr showed up.
posted by potrzebie at 4:46 PM on September 30, 2022 [3 favorites]

I was the Abbess in our grade 6 production. My mom’s old hippy black velvet dress with white lace got pressed into service. I was the only Jewish kid in my class, so it felt funny to be the head nun. And I still know all the words to “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria.”
posted by Lawn Beaver at 5:07 AM on October 1, 2022 [5 favorites]

I generally like it, there is some good music, and it seems to have aged fairly well. Though I admit my reaction to the movie is always colored (a bit negatively; I've never been a fan of European aristocracy as an institution) by my grandmother having seen it in the theater something like 23 times, a significant expenditure of income for someone who did not have a lot. She was German (emigrated to the U.S. as an adult), and before World War I/before her marriage she worked as a governess on a large estate in Pomerania for members of the von Bonin family, so I guess it resonated?
posted by gudrun at 11:58 AM on October 1, 2022 [1 favorite]

When I was 9 or 10, I bought Maria Von Trapp's then-recently-published autobiography from a bookmobile at my elementary school. I had loved the musical since I can remember, and there was fleeting disappointment that Maria didn't break into songs from the show in the book, but I read the whole thing and loved every bit of it.

The real story is so much more engrossing. She had many health troubles, and there were issues getting into the US and serious financial problems even before they left Austria. If you're even half as much of a fan of the show as I am, then I highly recommend the book "Maria, My Own Story."

And yes, there will always be people who say the songs are too schmaltzy or don't like "Edelweiss" being paraded as a much-loved Austrian folk song, but they can go take a long walk off a short canoe. This will always have a place in my heart.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:24 PM on October 1, 2022 [2 favorites]

I love this movie. It's so great. How can you not fall in love with Julie Andrews as Maria?
posted by emd3737 at 9:16 AM on October 2, 2022

Georg von Trapp was decorated for his performance commanding a cruiser during the Boxer Rebellion and was the most successful Austro-Hungarian U-boat commander of World War I. He ended the war as the commander of a submarine base in Cattaro (in present-day Montenegro).

He was offered a commission in the German Navy after the Anschluss, but turned them down because he didn't like Nazis.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:45 PM on October 3, 2022 [2 favorites]

The first half of The Sound of Music is ms. matter's favorite movie of all time. It's her custom to play it every year on the first Sunday in January, the designated day to take down holiday decorations. Our youngest always enjoyed doing this with her. In their 30s, they still join her to sing along via video call from three time zones to the west.

A friend has a home theater and regularly hosts a group of movie nerds - some of us former university film studies instructors - there for movies on the regular. Once in a while instead of a feature we'll have "Clip Night," and we'll each present a clip from a movie based on a theme. The most memorable theme was location, our clips supposed to demonstrate how the film's setting is essential to the movie. I showed the clip from Lawrence of Arabia with Lawrence meeting Sherif Ali at the well. Pretentious, yet epic and enjoyable.

ms. matter chose the opening from The Sound of Music. Without naming it, she asked these committed film nerds to guess what movie it was. The initial POV fades in among overcast clouds with wind noises then flies high above snow-covered peaks. (I knew ahead of time. Guesses included Triumph of the Will and Ice Station Zebra. I was grateful our immense grins weren't visible in the dark.)

The view then descends to a green valley and the wind noise becomes birdsong. People still stumped. Finally, a lake comes into view, the score begins with faint strings and woodwinds, then trumpets, and before you know it we're twirling and singing on the ridge with Maria.

All assembled cheered and bowed to ms. matter, who won the evening.
posted by conscious matter at 11:06 AM on October 4, 2022 [2 favorites]

I was a very young child (6ish) when it was released.

The family bundled up and traveled two hours to grab additional family members and we all went to the movie in, perhaps, Raleigh. I had no clue what was going on. Therefore, I hated it; all the singing, simpering children, and then who were these booted military folks intertwined with the singing, and then dark chase scene followed by sunshine and singing? WTF.

I have therefore, always hated it and anything with Julie Andrews singing. Clearly, this has forever warped me and started my dislike of going to movies.
posted by mightshould at 1:32 PM on October 4, 2022

Guesses included Triumph of the Will and Ice Station Zebra.

I might've guessed Where Eagles Dare.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:18 PM on October 6, 2022 [1 favorite]

The first half of The Sound of Music is ms. matter's favorite movie of all time.

The FIRST HALF? She can't take the Nazis?

This reminds me of me saying that I like the first half of Into The Woods, as the second half gets depressing.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:55 PM on October 6, 2022

Stuka: I wonder for how many people out there, The Sound of Music was their first introduction to Nazi Germany...

We watch it every year at Christmas time (what? Don't you want to see Nazis stymied?), and it really was how my kids learned about appeasement, Nazis, the co-opting of young people' idealism (that stupid messenger boy!), and more.

Plus, when the two nuns admit to "sinning" and produce the distributor cap for the collaborators' cars, I had a chance to explain how easy it is to disable a car.

I admit that attitudes toward women are truly, regrettably bad (especially "Sixteen Going on Seventeen"), but at least it's a chance to say to my daughters, "That is not how you are to be treated by anyone in your life."
posted by wenestvedt at 10:18 AM on October 7, 2022

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