The Sound of Music—50 Years and Counting

The hills are alive with the sound of music, la la la la la. If you have been to Salzburg, Austria you have probably taken one of the bus tours chauffeuring you through The Sound of Music experience. The problem is that the same soundtrack that is playing when you board the bus is still running when you get off the bus. The songs linger on in your brain for days, and days, and days! mzl.ncwivdld

The Sound of Music is still one of my very favorite movies. I can sing most of the songs, probably not well but for the shower, they’re perfect. While doing a little research I learned a lot, while at the same time just touching the tip of the iceberg.

It’s been fifty years since this amazing movie hit the screen in 1965. The hit Broadway play and then the movie were loosely based on the memoirs written by Maria Von Trapp in 1949 “The Story of the Von Trapp Family Singers.”

The story, known by most of the world, is about a heroic Captain in the Austrian Navy, Georg Von Trapp (Christopher Plummer) who has been left with seven children to raise after his wife’s death. At sea a great deal of the time, he goes to the nearby convent to secure a governess.

Maria (Julie Andrews) is about to join the convent. A breath of fresh air in this holy place, the Mother Superior determines that it might serve Maria well to have a little more time before making a lifetime commitment, so she is sent to the Von Trapp family.

The Sound of Music was the romance of the decade. Maria was stunning in her wedding gown with the fourteen foot train; the finally happy Captain so handsome in his uniform. Singing coming from all around made every young girl dream of her handsome prince charming.

Viva la Rogers and Hammerstein! We all watched while the whole family headed off over the mountains to avoid Captain Von Trapp having to serve with the Nazi’s.

You’ve all seen the movie so I’ll write a little about the real plight of the Family Von Trapp. Firstly, they did leave Austria but they took a train to Italy where Georg was a citizen since he was born and raised in Croatia part of that empire. From Italy they went to London and then on to America where they settled and continued performing for several years. The day after they left, Hitler ordered the Austrian borders closed.

The almost unknown, Julie Andrews had just filmed Mary Poppins but it had not yet been released when she was cast as Maria. Two years before the musical hit Broadway, Paramount had bought the rights to the Von Trapp Family Singers Story but wanted Audrey Hepburn to star and she wouldn’t. Christopher Plummer hated working on the film which he often referred to as Sound of Mucus and likened Julie Andrews to “being hit over the head with a big Valentine’s Day card every day.” Nonetheless, he and Andrews have remained close friends ever since.

All said, you can’t argue with success! The movie budget was $8.2 million and it grossed over $163 million in the US alone. That means, adjusted for inflation, it’s the 3rd highest grossing movie of all time. When the video was released it stayed on the charts for 250 weeks—almost 5 years! Julie Andrews was paid only $225,000. Sound of Music won five Oscars and was nominated for three more. Throw in some Golden Globes and numerous others and you have a movie that people are still watching 50 years later.

Too much story, too little space so I’ll just say, watch it again, you’ll be singing for days! Great family fare.

As always, I love your comments at chastings@rockcliff.com.