“The Sound of Music” remains "one of our favorite things"
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Almost exactly 50 years ago, on March 2, 1965, a lesser-known British actress named Julie Andrews sang her way through the Austrian hills and onto the big screen.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music.” Andrews played plucky Maria, and Christopher Plummer played Captain Georg Von Trapp.
The film is based on the true story of a young woman who was sent away from her convent to become a governess for a captain’s seven unruly children. Set against the backdrop of the rising tensions that led up to World War II, this story of a family’s love and patriotism for Austria has become a classic for all generations.
According to The Daily Express, both the film and the Broadway play are based on Maria Von Trapp’s book “The Story of the Von Trapp Family Singers.” Elizabeth Von Trapp, granddaughter of Maria and Georg, shared that the family did not actually escape by climbing the Alps. In an article from The Independent, she said they left Austria “quite legally, by train, on a concert tour” for Britain in 1938. From there, they moved to the U.S. The family toured as the Trapp Family Singers until 1956. The last surviving member of this original group was Maria—Lousia in the movie. She died last year at the age of 99.
The film producers were unsure if they wanted Julie Andrews because her best acting at that point had been on stage. “Mary Poppins” had yet to be released at the time of casting, but once “The Sound of Music” director Robert Wise took producers to see unreleased footage of “Mary Poppins,” they knew they wanted Andrews to star.
At first, Christopher Plummer didn’t want to take the role, and he had to be persuaded to do so. Despite this, Andrews and Plummer meshed well together, and, in a recent interview about the anniversary with Vanity Fair, they make it clear that they still remain very close friends.
The Daily Express also reported several mishaps during filming. In older versions of the movie, Charmian Carr, who played Liesl, had a bandaged ankle because she fell through one of the gazebo windows. Kym Karath, who played Gretyl, almost drowned during a canoe scene. Nicholas Hammond, who played Friedrich, had a huge growth spurt during the filming, and in later scenes, Carr had to stand on boxes so that the original height difference was maintained.
The opening scene of Andrews spinning on the hillside had to be re-shot multiple times because the blades of the helicopter from which the crew filmed created such strong winds that she kept falling over! The farmer next door to the set was unhappy because the production was upsetting his cows enough that they were not producing milk. Therefore, he cut the field and messed up part of the set.
In 1965, the film won five Oscars, and its legacy lives on today. During this year’s Oscars, Lady Gaga performed a beautiful tribute to the movie with a medley of “The Sound of Music,” “My Favorite Things,” “Edelweiss” and “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.”
There are several 50th anniversary celebrations happening both in the U.S. and Austria in the coming year. Musiccelebrations.com reports “The Sound of Music” 50th Anniversary Celebration will happen in Salzburg from June 22-27. There will be special musical performances and tours to important sites.
Variety reports that the movie will be re-released to “more than 500 theaters across the U.S. on April 19 and 22.” The movie will also be re-released on DVD later this year with 13 hours of brand new features.