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SOUND OF MUSIC, THE (director: Robert Wise; screenwriters: Ernest Lehman/from the stage musical with music and lyrics by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein 2nd and book by Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse/based on Baroness Maria von Trapp’s 1949 autobiography “The von Trapp Family Singers”; cinematographer: Ted McCord; editor: William Reynolds; music: Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein 2d; cast: Julie Andrews (Maria), Christopher Plummer (Captain Von Trapp), Eleanor Parker (The Baroness), Richard Haydn (Max Detweiler), Peggy Wood (Mother Abbess), Charmian Carr (Liesl), Nicholas Hammond (Friedrich), Heather Menzies (Louisa), Duane Chase (Kurt), Angela Cartwright (Brigitta), Debbie Turner (Marta), Kym Karath (Gretl), Daniel Truhitte (Rolfe), Evadne Baker (Sister Bernice), Anna Lee (Sister Margaretta), Portia Nelson (Sister Berthe); Runtime: 174; MPAA Rating: G; producer: Robert Wise; Twentieth Century–Fox; 1965)
“It grows on one like edelweiss.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Sweet adaptation of an old-fashioned family stage musical (ran for three and a half years on Broadway) that also became a real crowd-pleaser as a movie. It’s written by Ernest Lehman and based on the book by Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse, whose book was based on Baroness Maria von Trapp’s 1949 autobiography “The von Trapp Family Singers.” It has the lively tunes from Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein 2nd to keep the corn popping cheerfully along; it grows on one like edelweiss. Robert Wise (“The Set-Up”/”The Sand Pebbles”/”West Side Story”) tells the true story of the Von Trapp family singers and of the events that led to their rise to the top as concert performers just prior to WW II. It won five Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director. It has such lovely stage songs as “Maria,” “Climb Every Mountain,” “The Lonely Goatherd,” “Sixteen Going on Seventeen,” “Do-Re-Mi,” “My Favorite Things,” “So Long, Farewell,” “Edelweiss” and the title song.

In 1938, Maria (Julie Andrews) is a novice nun at the Catholic abbey in Salzburg, and the kindly Mother Abbess (Peggy Wood) is not sure if the flighty young lady is suited for that profession. The Mother Abbess, as a test to see if she isn’t better suited to do womanly things, like take care of children, sends Maria to be the governess for the seven children of the widowed Baron Georg von Trapp (Christopher Plummer), a retired naval captain, who lives in a vast and opulent mansion (filmed at the Frohnburg Castle). The children, ranging in age from 5 to 16, have gotten rid of 12 governesses prior to Maria and start pulling pranks on the daffy but sweet Maria. But she’s not like the others and takes the kids to heart, winning them all over as she makes clothes for them, talks with them, allows them to play and teaches them to sing. The captain, a strict domineering disciplinarian, leaves for Vienna to court the glamorous Baroness Schraeder (Eleanor Parker) to be his wife.

Maria returns to the abbey when the captain returns because she thinks she’s falling in love with him. When the children follow her there to get her to return, the Mother Abbess sends Maria back to the Trapp home. But Maria departs again when she learns that the captain plans to marry the baroness. At this time, the Nazis march into Austria and order Von Trapp, an anti-Nazi, to command a ship. The Trapps are stopped by Storm Troopers from escaping, but their family impresario friend Max (Richard Haydn) convinces them that they are only on their way to sing at the Salzburg Festival and their father just wants to catch the show before boarding the ship. The Trapps win first place, and following their performance take refuge in the abbey with Maria. The family and Maria then escape through a secret tunnel to the nearby Austrian Alps, and the rest is history.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”