174 Min. | Biography – Drama – Family | March 1965
IMDB Rating: 8.0
Director: Robert Wise
Staring: Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Eleanor Parker
The Sound of Music Review: 1965’s “The Sound of Music” is everything a bad musical should be. Providing more sap than a forest full of Vermont maples, it has coy, silly songs, an inane, innocuous script, and unbelievably sugary characters. So why is it one of my favorite musicals? OK, go ahead. Shoot me at twenty paces. But after all this time, it still remains a guilty pleasure. I find myself going for a tub of rocky road ice cream and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s immortal classic whenever the real world gets to be too much. Now about those songs. Almost every one of them is absolute drivel. So what makes them work? Easy. The utter joy and sincerity of the cast who sings the infectious, hummable tunes, which are backed by extremely moving orchestrations and an exceptionally beautiful score. It’s hard to resist Maria prancing about, pillow-fighting with a bunch of knee-highs and gushing about her most favorite things.
The script is undeniably trite and probably the film’s weakest link. But again, the characters play it straight all the way. Not one actor looks embarrassed. Every scene is done with total enthusiasm and total commitment, and the performers who are telling the story are pitch-perfect and picture perfect. And as for the characters. Try and think of anybody better than jubilant, crop-haired Julie Andrews as a postulant nun who has gorgeous pipes, can make play clothes out of curtains, can set up and operate marionette shows at the drop of a hat, and is confident enough to convince a man that a failed nun is ideal marriage material. Andrews is cutely silly, cutely stubborn, cutely astute, cutely shattered and cutely, well, cute. She gives the most wholesomely appealing musical perf since Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz.” To actually make you forget Mary Martin in the Broadway role takes some doing and she does it effortlessly.
For those who tear “The Sound of Music” apart for its shameless, sugar-coated manipulations, well, I can respect that. But to attack it for its political and historical inaccuracies is like attacking “Peter Pan” for being a subversive plot that encourages young children to run away from home. It’s ludicrous. Despite the fact that it’s based on a true story, we’re not watching “The Sound of Music” for stark realism. Like a sparkling and lavish Ernst Lubitsch operetta, we want a feel-good movie, with feel-good songs, with a feel-good story, and a feel-good ending. Nothing more. If you want a movie that presents a potent depiction of pre-war Austria or anti-Nazi sentiment, rent “Holocaust” or “Schindler’s List.” Here, we want to believe that a group of nuns can tear out an automobile carburetor and save the world! Period. Anyway, for what it’s worth, “The Sound of Music” is indeed schmaltz, but its QUALITY schmaltz at its very, very best.