The Sound of Music

Director: Robert Wise

Cast: Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Eleanor Parker, Richard Haydn, Peggy Wood, Charmian Carr, Heather Menzies, Nicholas Hammond, Duane Chase, Angela Cartwright, Bill Lee, Margery McKay, Debbie Turner, Kym Karath, Anna Lee, Portia Nelson, Ben Wright, Daniel Truhitte, Norma Varden, Gil Stuart, Marni Nixon, Evadne Baker, Doris Lloyd, Maria von Trapp

In mid-1930’s Austria, Maria (Andrews) sings about hills that are alive with the sound of music. At the abbey where Maria lives, the Reverend Mother (Wood) and several nuns wonder where she is and what she’s up to. Maria is a wonderful girl, they say, some of the time, but she is always late, and is often getting into trouble. The Reverend Mother tells Maria that it seems to be God’s will that she leave the abbey, for a while. There is a family in Salzburg that needs a governess for some months, and Maria is sent to take over the post. Maria is very reluctant to leave the abbey. The sisters are the only family she knows, and she wishes to become a nun, but she obeys the Reverend Mother and travels to Salzburg. Captain Georg von Trapp (Plummer) lives with his seven children at a villa near Salzburg. He’s a retired officer of the Austrian Imperial Navy. Captain von Trapp tells Maria, “You are the twelfth in a long line of governesses who have come here to look after my children since their mother died. I trust you will be an improvement on the last one. She stayed only two hours.” Captain Von Trapp runs his home with an iron discipline and his children lead a restricted and joyless existence. They are used to venting their frustrations on their unfortunate governesses. Maria is at first daunted by the Captain’s strict manner and the children’s misbehavior, but her inner strength and her appreciation of life make her stay, and her life at the abbey has prepared her for living with rules and restrictions. Maria arranges walks out in the country with the children, with songs to entertain them, and gradually she wins them over and their lives become happier and more fulfilled. Captain von Trapp is romantically attached to Baroness Schraeder (Parker), an attractive and wealthy woman from Vienna that on occasion comes to his villa to visit. Von Trapp is livid when he finds that Maria has caused his children to abandon the rigid discipline he has imposed on them. They no longer wear their uniforms and instead wear clothes she has fashioned for them out of old drapes. Von Trapp tells Maria to pack her things and leave his house immediately, but changes his mind when he hears his children sing. He realizes she has brought music and happiness back into his home. The Captain asks Maria to stay, pays more attention to his children, as Maria advises, and grows closer to them. Von Trapp also has other things on his mind. His oldest daughter, Liesl (Carr), is in love with a local boy, and there is a growing political movement in Austria that favors a union with Nazi Germany. The Captain is not inclined to make friends with Nazi sympathizers. He wishes for Austria to remain independent. Captain von Trapp becomes charmed by Maria, and begins to fall in love with her. Maria begins to notice a change in him, but is less conscious of her own growing affection. The Baroness notices the feelings building in Georg and Maria. She tells Maria that nothing is more irresistible to a man than a woman who is in love with him. Maria faces a dilemma. All her life she’s wanted to be a nun, but she discovers that she feels a woman’s love toward the Captain. Frightened and confused, not knowing how to deal with the situation, Maria runs away and goes back to the safety of the abbey. But she finds no refuge there. The Reverend Mother tells her, “These walls were not built to shut out problems. You have to face them. You have to live the life you were born to live.” Maria must return to the von Trapp villa. She and Georg must figure out what they want their futures to be. And there are other issues they must face: the Baroness, the children, and a menacing political situation drifting toward the union of Austria and Germany. Screenplay by Ernest Lehman. Musical score by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein.

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