The Sound of Music
Sound Of Music Children

It was while Wise was waiting to make THE SAND PEBBLES that he took on the project of producing and directing the film version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's THE SOUND OF MUSIC, the story of the singing Van Trapp family, who fled Austria during World War II. Little did he know that an interim project would go on to be the greatest success of his career—a record-breaker at the box office (the first film to gross over $100 million) and one of the most beloved musicals of all time.

Julie Andrews

Julie Andrews

Wise offers this humble explanation for the success of this film: "THE SOUND OF MUSIC just happened to come out when the world was hungry for this kind of warm, emotional family entertainment."*

Of course, it helped that, with Wise at the helm, it was a beautifully done film. In the director's favor were a wonderful score with songs that have become staples to young and old; a brilliant performance from Julie Andrews; the lovely scenery of Salzburg and the Austrian Alps; and an appealing cast of kids. But it was Wise's filmmaking skills that brought the movie together, including his ability to assemble the best crew for the project, many of whom were onboard for WEST SIDE STORY: screenwriter Ernest Lehman, production designer Boris Leven, production illustrator Maurice Zuberano, editor William Reynolds, and cinematographer Ted McCord.

Synopsis The antics of tomboyish Maria, a novice at the abbey in Salzburg, concern the Mother Abbess, who is unsure whether Maria wants to become a nun. To allow the girl to test her feelings, the Mother Abbess sends Maria to be the governess for the seven children of the widowed Baron von Trapp, a retired naval officer. The children are at first hostile to Maria, but she soon wins them over. The baron, who is a strict disciplinarian, leaves to visit Baroness Schraeder, and while he is gone, Maria allows them greater freedom and teaches them to sing. The children become so excited when the baron returns that they fall out of a rowboat in the lake. The accident Sound Of Music precipitates an argument between Maria and the baron, and he orders her to leave; but when he goes into the house and finds the children entertaining his friend Max and the baroness with a song, he asks Maria to stay. Max later suggests that they enter the Salzburg Festival as a singing group, but the baron refuses. Maria becomes aware that she is falling in love with the baron and returns to the abbey. The children follow her there and try to persuade her to return; when the Mother Abbess learns of their visit, she sends Maria back to the Trapp home. Maria again decides to leave when she hears that the baron plans to marry the baroness, but the baroness realizes that he loves Maria and releases him. He then marries Maria, and while they are away on their honeymoon, the Nazis take over Austria. Max, taking advantage of the baron's absence, enters the children in the Salzburg Festival. When Maria and the baron return, he forbids the children to appear at the festival. The baron learns that the Nazis, to whom he is violently opposed, have ordered him to take command of a ship. The Trapps plan an escape but are stopped by Storm Troopers. Max convinces them that they are on their way to the festival and that the baron is leaving for his ship immediately after the performance. The Trapps win first place and, using their exit song to escape, they take refuge in the abbey. The Nazis learn their whereabouts and surround the building, but the family escape through a secret tunnel to the nearby mountains.

From the AFI Catalog of Feature Films

Wise Facts
  • Christopher Plummer did none of the singing in the film; Producer Saul Chaplin, himself a songwriter, chose Bill Lee for Plummer's vocals after auditioning many male singers.
  • Marni Nixon, who did the vocals for Natalie Wood in WEST SIDE STORY, makes her screen debut as one of the nuns.
  • Credits: 174 min. Argyle Enterprises; A Robert Wise Production; Distributed by: Twentieth Century--Fox Film Corp.;  Directed by: Robert Wise;  Produced by: Robert Wise;  Screenplay by: Ernest Lehman;  Edited by: William Reynolds;  Director of Photography: Ted McCord;  Music by: Richard Rodgers;  Production Design by: Boris Leven;  Sound by: Murray Spivack;  Costumes by: Josephine Brown;  Make-up by: Ben Nye;  Hair by: Margaret Donovan;  Choreography by: Dee Dee Wood
    Cast  Julie Andrews (Maria), Christopher Plummer (Captain von Trapp), Eleanor Parker (The Baroness), Richard Haydn (Max Detweiler), Peggy Wood (Mother Abbess), Charmian Carr (Liesl), Heather Menzies (Louisa), Nicholas Hammond (Friedrich), Duane Chase (Kurt), Angela Cartwright (Brigitta), Debbie Turner (Marta), Kym Karath (Gretl), Anna Lee (Sister Margaretta), Portia Nelson (Sister Berthe), Ben Wright (Herr Zeller), Daniel Truhitte (Rolfe), Norma Varden (Frau Schmidt), Gilchrist Stuart (Franz), Marni Nixon (Sister Sophia), Evadne Baker (Sister Bernice), and Doris Lloyd (Baroness Ebberfeld)

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    1.AFI Seminar, May 1975

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