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  • Writer's pictureThomas Duncan

The Sound of Music (1965) ft. Andrew Mondia

What is this movie is about?/Elevator Pitch: That joy, family, music, and love are stronger motivators than raw discipline and fear.

Plot Summary: When a young nun, Maria (Julie Andrews), proves too spirited for convent life in 1930s Austria, she is sent to serve as a governess to seven children of a widowed naval officer, Captain Georg von Trapp (Christopher Plummer). With the Captain’s wife having died years before, he has run the house as a disciplinarian with little fun, joy, or music. Soon, however, Maria is able to reopen the Captain’s heart toward his children and music. As this happens, the Captain's fondness of Maria grows as well. However, when a Commission in the navy of the Third Reich is demanded of the Captain, decisions must be made as to the future of the family.


  • Robert Wise, Director

  • Ernest Lehman, Writer

  • Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein, Lyrics

  • Irwin Kostal, Score

  • Julie Andrews as Maria

  • Christopher Plummer as Captain von Trapp

    • Bill Lee overdubbed Plummer's singing

  • Eleanor Parker as Baroness Elsa von Schraeder

  • Richard Haydn as Max Detweiler

  • Peggy Wood as the Mother Abbess

  • Charmian Carr as Liesl von Trapp

  • Heather Menzies as Louisa von Trapp

  • Nicholas Hammond as Friedrich von Trapp

  • Duane Chase as Kurt von Trapp

  • Angela Cartwright as Brigitta von Trapp

  • Debbie Turner as Marta von Trapp

  • Kym Karath as Gretl von Trapp


  • The Sound of Music was released on March 2, 1965.

  • It currently holds an 83% among critics on RT, a 63 rating on Metacritic, and a 4 out of 5 on Letterboxd.

  • Four weeks after its theatrical release, it became the number one box office movie in the United States, from revenue generated by twenty-five theaters, each screening only ten roadshow performances per week. It held the number one position for thirty of the next forty-three weeks, and ended up the highest-grossing film of 1965. One contributing factor in the film's early commercial success was the repeat business of many filmgoers. In some cities in the United States, the number of tickets sold exceeded the total population.

  • By January 1966, the film had earned $20 million in distributor rentals from just 140 roadshow engagements in the United States and Canada. Worldwide, The Sound of Music broke previous box-office records in twenty-nine countries, including the United Kingdom, where it played for a record-breaking three years at the Dominion Theatre in London and earned £4 million in rentals and grossed £6 million—more than twice as much as any other film had taken in. It was also a major success in the Netherlands, Hong Kong, and Tokyo, where it played for as long as two years at some theaters. It was not a universal success, however, with the film only enjoying modest success in France and it was a flop in Germany. It also initially performed poorly in Italy, but a re-release after the Oscars brought better results.

  • It was number one at the US box office for a further 11 weeks in 1966, for a total of 41 weeks at number one. By November 1966, The Sound of Music had become the highest-grossing film of all time, with over $67.5 million in worldwide rentals ($125 million in gross receipts), surpassing Gone with the Wind, which held that distinction for twenty-four years. It was still in the top ten at the US box office in its 100th week of release.

  • The Sound of Music completed its initial four-and-a-half year theatrical release run in the United States on Labor Day 1969, the longest initial run for a film in the US.

  • It was also the first film to gross over $100 million. By December 1970, it had earned $121.5 million in worldwide rentals, which was over four times higher than the film's estimated break-even point of $29.5 million in rentals. The film was re-released in 1973, and by the end of the 1970s, it was ranked seventh in all-time North American rentals. The film's re-release in 1990 increased the total North American admissions to the third-highest number of tickets sold behind Gone with the Wind and Star Wars.

  • The Sound of Music eventually earned a total domestic gross of $163,214,076 and a total worldwide gross of $286,214,076. Adjusted for inflation, the film earned about $2.366 billion at 2014 prices—placing it among the top ten highest-grossing films of all time.

  • The Sound of Music soundtrack album reached the number one position on the Billboard 200 that year in the United States. It remained in the top ten for 109 weeks, from May 1, 1965, to July 16, 1967, and remained on the Billboard 200 chart for 238 weeks.

  • The album was the best-selling album in the United Kingdom in 1965, 1966, and 1968 and the second best-selling of the entire decade, spending a total of 70 weeks at number one on the UK Albums Chart. It also stayed 73 weeks on the Norwegian charts, becoming the seventh best-charting album of all time in that country. In 2015, Billboard named the album the second greatest album of all time.

  • The Sound of Music was nominated for 10 Academy Awards including Best Actress (Andrews) and Supporting Actress (Peggy Wood), and won for Best Picture, Director (Wise), Editing, Sound, and Original Score (Kostal).

  • It has appeared on the following lists for the AFI:

    • 100 Years...100 Movies – No. 55

    • 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) – No. 40

    • 100 Years...100 Cheers – No. 41

    • 100 Years of Musicals – No. 4

    • 100 Years...100 Passions – No. 27

    • 100 Years...100 Songs:

      • "The Sound of Music" – No. 10

      • "My Favorite Things" – No. 64

      • "Do-Re-Mi" – No. 88

  • In 2001, The Sound of Music was selected for preservation in the United States' National Film Registry.

Did You Know:

  • As part of his research for this movie, William Wyler met with the real Maria von Trapp and the Mayor of Salzburg. Wyler was concerned that the local residents would be alarmed at seeing their buildings draped with Nazi flags and seeing stormtroopers in the streets only twenty-five years after the real thing had taken place. The Mayor assured him that the residents had managed to live through the Anschluss the first time and would survive it again. Other city officials were much more resistant to the idea of decorating Salzburg with Nazi colors. They soon changed their minds when the filmmakers said they would use newsreel footage instead. This footage was actually highly incriminating as it showed the Salzburgers openly welcoming the Nazis, something that the proposed scenes for this movie would not do.

  • The movie is based on Maria von Trapp's 1949 memoir, "The Story of the Von Trapp Family Singers". She also published another book, "Maria", in 1972 and said that while she was able to attend the opening of the musical on Broadway, she did not have the same luck with this movie premiere in 1965. She was able to convince Twentieth Century Fox to let her see a preview of the movie and expected an invitation to the premiere but "when I didn't hear anything about it and no invitation arrived, I really humbled myself to go and ask the producer whether I would be allowed to come. He said he was very sorry, indeed, but there were no seats left" (p. 216).

  • The real Maria Von Trapp claimed that this movie toned down her behavior during her stay at Nonnberg Abbey. When asked in an interview if she was really that bad, she joked "I was worse."

  • Christopher Plummer intensely disliked working on this movie. He was known to refer to it as "The Sound of Mucus" or "S&M" and likened working with Dame Julie Andrews to "being hit over the head with a big Valentine's Day card, every day." Nonetheless, he and Andrews remained close friends until his death. Andrews claimed that Plummer's cynicism probably helped his performance and this movie, keeping it from being too sentimental.

  • Christopher Plummer admitted that he ate and drank heavily during filming to drown out his unhappiness with making this movie, and found plenty of opportunities to do both in Austria. His costume eventually had to be refitted for his extra weight.

  • When setting up for filming of the wedding scene, there was nobody at the altar to wed them when they reached the top of the stairs to the sanctuary. Someone had forgotten to summon the actor playing the bishop. According to Dame Julie Andrews, the real Archbishop of Salzburg (at the time Andreas Rohracher), is seen in the movie.

  • While the Von Trapp family hiked over the Alps to Switzerland in this movie, in reality, they walked to the local train station and boarded the next train to Italy. From Italy, they fled to London and ultimately the U.S. Salzburg is in fact only a few miles away from the Austrian-German border, and is much too far from either the Swiss or the Italian border for a family to escape by walking. Had the Von Trapps hiked over the mountains, they would have ended up in Germany, near Adolf Hitler's mountain retreat.

  • After the Von Trapps fled Austria, their home was taken over by Heinrich Himmler, one of the key players of the Nazi party. Adolf Hitler personally visited Himmler there several times.

  • Very little background information on the real Captain Von Trapp was known or available to Christopher Plummer, so he took to the Salzburg mountains with an interpreter. There, they met with Georg's nephew and asked him what the real man was like. The nephew told them that he was the most boring man he'd ever met.

Best Performance: Julie Andrews (Maria)/Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein (Lyrics)

Best Secondary Performance: Julie Andrews (Maria)/Christopher Plummer (Captain)

Most Charismatic Award: Christopher Plummer (Captain)/Julie Andrews (Maria)/Charmian Carr (Liesl)

Best Scene:

  • The Hills are Alive...

  • A Problem Like Maria

  • My Favorite Things

  • Do a Deer

  • Climbing Trees

  • Singing for the Baroness

  • The Lonely Goatherd

  • Teaching a Traditional Austrian Waltz

  • Maria Flees

  • Maria's Return

  • The Salzburg Festival

  • You'll Never be One of Them

Favorite Scene: The Salzburg Festival/You'll Never be One of Them

Most Indelible Moment: The Hills are Alive (Opening)

In Memorium:

  • Tucker Wiard, 80, American television editor (Murphy Brown, The Carol Burnett Show, Alice), five-time Emmy winner.

  • Ralph Eggleston, 56, American animator (The Lion King, WALL·E) and film director (For the Birds), Oscar winner (2001).

  • Robert LuPone, 76, American actor (Jesus Christ Superstar, The Sopranos, A Chorus Line).

  • Amanda Mackey, 70, American casting director (The Fugitive, A League of Their Own, The Hunt for Red October).

  • Joe E. Tata, 85, American actor (Beverly Hills, 90210; Unholy Rollers, The Rockford Files).

  • William Reynolds, 90, American actor (The F.B.I., The Gallant Men, The Islanders).

Best Lines/Funniest Lines:

Maria: When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.

Maria: You know how Sister Berthe always makes me kiss the floor after we've had a disagreement? Well, lately I've taken to kissing the floor whenever I see her coming, just to save time.

Sister Margaretta: Reverend Mother, I have sinned.

Sister Berthe: I, too, Reverend Mother.

Mother Abbess: What is this sin, my children?

[the nuns look at each other, then reveal from under their robes the distributor and coil they have removed from the Germans' cars]

Herr Zeller: Perhaps those who would warn you that the Anschluss is coming - and it is coming, Captain - perhaps they would get further with you by setting their words to music.

Captain von Trapp: If the Nazis take over Austria, I have no doubt, Herr Zeller, that you will be the entire trumpet section.

Herr Zeller: You flatter me, Captain.

Captain von Trapp: Oh, how clumsy of me - I meant to accuse you.

Kurt: Only grown-up men are scared of women.

Mother Abbess: Maria, these walls were not meant to shut out problems. You have to face them. You have to live the life you were born to live.

The Baroness: There's nothing more irresistible to a man than a woman who's in love with him.

Max: I like rich people. I like the way they live. I like the way I live when I'm with them.

Best Song:

Edelweiss - Tom and Dana

The Lonely Goatherd - Andrew

The Stanley Rubric:

Legacy: 9

Impact/Significance: 9.67

Novelty: 7.5

Classic-ness: 8.83

Rewatchability: 9.17

Audience Score: 9 (89% Google, 91% RT)

Total: 53.17

Remaining Questions:

  • How did things go for Max after the escape?

  • How did the German soldiers not see the escape coming given that Max said it was the Von Trapp Family's last performance like three times before it happened?

  • What actually was the problem with Maria?

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