The Sound Of Music

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THE SOUND OF MUSIC—–did it matter that the critics wee-wee’d all over this, doing their unlevel best to sour everyone’s fun?  Apparently not, since the tremendous box-office take from this 1965 classic finally unseated champion Gone With The Wind after a quarter-century.  Calling it synthetic, manufactured mush and syrupy corn didn’t stop some lady in England from watching it almost 1000 times!  While that may be the high side of devout, what the movie does offer is enough pleasure in the way  story, setting, soul and…sound.. to guarantee it as a perennial entertainment for countless numbers of fans all over the globe. Gee, how terrible…

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The adaptation of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s final extravaganza—it ran 1442 performances on Broadway—has enough sweetness in it to keep you off milkshakes for a month, but that doesn’t stop it from being happily and consistently entertaining.  Schmaltz, yes, but also drama, comedy, charm, and a dollop of inspiration come from the story of the Von Trapp Family singers, escaping Nazi Austria in 1938.

The location filming in the Alps and the city of Salzburg really is breathtakingly pretty, though it suffers on the small screen.  The show is lengthy–174 minutes—but you kind of sink into it, and Julie Andrews voice is matchless. Her energy is palpable: as critic Danny Peary keenly observes she does a lovely job of “acting while singing”.  She should have won her Oscar for this rather than Mary Poppins.  Christopher Plummer cuts effectively as the aloof, somewhat snide father (he just needs Maria); Richard Haydn makes a plum rogue as their impresario, and all the kids are excellent.sound_of_music-lonely_goatherd-017

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Packed with songs and themes that are for the most part quite fetching.  Director Robert Wise proved here that his first musical—West Side Story—was no fluke.  The movie cost a hefty $8,200,000, but it paid off more than a bit: aside from toppling GWTW, it broke records in 29 countries, and the ultimate take of $286,000,000 is, if you adjust for inflation, a gargantuan two billion, three hundred sixty-six million dollars, making it, as of 2014, the fifth most successful movie of all time.  It won Oscars for Best Picture, Director, Music Score, Film Editing and Sound and was also nominated for Best Actress (Andrews), Supporting Actress (Peggy Wood), Cinematography, Art Direction and Costume Design.  The soundtrack album sold over 20,000,000 copies.

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With Eleanor Parker, Charmian Carr, Heather Menzies, Nicholas Hammond, Duane Chase, Angela Cartwright (sigh), Debbie Turner, Kym Karath, Daniel Truhitte, Marni Nixon and Ben Wright.

For the record, the kids are Liesl, Friedrich, Louisa, Kurt, Brigitta, Marta and Gretl.  Leave your toughness and disdain for another day.  Enjoy…

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