The Sound of Music (1965) / Musical-Drama
MPAA Rated: G, suitable for all audiences
Running Time: 174 min.
Cast: Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Eleanor Parker, Richard Haydn, Peggy Wood
Director: Robert Wise
Screenplay: Ernest Lehman
Review published April 15, 2001
Watching THE SOUND OF MUSIC for the first time as an adult is a bit akin to biting into a chocolate covered cherry after eating a box of salty crackers. Such overwhelming sweetness, and manipulative sweetness at that, takes some time to adjust to, and if you don't have a sweet tooth somewhere, nausea may ensue. With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that there are some out there who can't stomach such a syrupy musical, and I will admit, in the beginning I found it a bit too corny. Yet, after some time passed, it reeled me in and won me over to it's good-natured side, and dammit, I had a fun time watching it.
The plot (loosely based on a true story) centers around a wanna-be nun named Maria, who finds more interest in running around the hills and singing to her hearts content than in her theological studies. She becomes a little too difficult to handle so she is sent to play nanny to seven children in the house of a retired naval captain in Austria. With the mother deceased, the children have scared off all the former nannies and things aren't going to be easy for Maria, as she soon finds out, but Maria's unorthodox style soon wins them over and soon she brings the joy of music in the house in the form of singing. But the Nazis are invading and they want the father for their own military purposes.
Without a doubt, the main strength of THE SOUND OF MUSIC comes from the Rodgers and Hammerstein songs, with such memorable lyrics and music it's hard to dislike the film completely even if you don't care for the drama. Yet, THE SOUND OF MUSIC also features some gorgeous cinematography by Ted McCord, that along with the aforementioned music, would make the film enjoyable even without dialogue. Yet there is also a story between the songs; one is the soap opera love interest angle of the captain, Maria and another well-to-do woman in the area, and the other being the more serious plotline of the Nazi takeover of Austria and the changes they make in Austria. Both are interesting but it's the latter that finally gives some meat to this fluff and generates some good suspense.
THE SOUND OF MUSIC is terrific family fare, sure to please young and old. Yes, it's manipulative. Yes, it's cornball. Yet, if you have even an ounce of the kid in you, the magic will win you over. Highly recommended.
©2001 Vince Leo