The Sound Of Music

1965, Movie, G, 174 mins

Review

SOUND OF MUSIC, THE
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We'd give anything to be little Von Trapp children, living our lives in the confines of this film. We'd refuse to wear clothes made from curtains. We'd sing loudly (like off-key Ethel Mermans) when we were hiding from Nazis, and never compromise our talent to sing before Papa's guests. We'd snatch Eleanor Parker's Eva Gabor wig, moon nuns, and wet Julie's bed during "My Favorite Things." What fun we'd have. And make this travesty real. For despite the political danger, we know it's leading to music swells and Andrews's million-dollar wedding gown--enough to make Grace Kelly and Princess Di and Elizabeth Taylor slap their mothers. It's so perfectly contrived and mechanical and fresh as a daisy, it's infuriating. And only the sly, insistently subversive Christopher Plummer is on our side.

Maria (Julie Andrews) is a young postulant at a nunnery who quickly realizes that the cloister is not for her. Yet she still believes in the values espoused by the church, so she goes out into the world and radiantly attempts to bring what she's learned to the lay world. Soon Maria is hired by Austrian widower Capt. Von Trapp (Christopher Plummer) as a governess for his seven singing children. Noting that the children seem cowed by their disciplinarian father, she strives to open their lives to joy. They live in one of the most beautiful sections of the Alps, but only learn to appreciate the surrounding vistas when Maria, with her fresh outlook, shows them what they have. All that is soon threatened by Nazi rule in Austria, forcing the Von Trapps to flee while en route to Salzburg for a musical festival in which they are to perform. A staple of 1960s Hollywood films, THE SOUND OF MUSIC delivered an unforgettable Julie Andrews performance (simultaneously damning her career; we'd have preferred the more authentic Mary Martin), and presented a most postcard view of Austria. The songs are hard to forget--"The Sound of Music," "Do Re Mi," "My Favorite Things," "Edelweiss", "Climb Every Mountain", and our pick of the litter, "The Lonely Goatherd"--but we're trying. So you expected a serious review?

In a nutshell: lovely to look at, scripted competently, with a few chilling moments about the lurking Nazis. But Wise can't direct Plummer to play along. And who does Eleanor Parker think she is--Anne Baxter standing in for Joan Crawford? leave a comment

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