The Sound of Music (film)

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The Sound of Music
Sound of music.jpg
Theatrical release poster by Howard Terpning
Directed by Robert Wise
Produced by Robert Wise
Screenplay by Ernest Lehman
Based on The Sound of Music by
Howard Lindsay (libretto)
Russel Crouse (libretto)
The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by
Maria von Trapp (uncredited)
Music by
Cinematography Ted D. McCord
Edited by William H. Reynolds
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • March 2, 1965 (1965-03-02) (USA)
  • March 29, 1965 (1965-03-29) (UK)
Running time
170 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $8.2 million[2][3]
Box office $286,214,286[2]

The Sound of Music is a 1965 American musical drama film directed and produced by Robert Wise and starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. The film is an adaptation of the 1959 Broadway musical The Sound of Music, with songs written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, the musical book written by the writing team of Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, and the screenplay written by Ernest Lehman.

Based on the book The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria von Trapp, the film is about a young woman who leaves an Austrian convent to become a governess to the seven children of a naval officer widower. The Sound of Music was filmed on location in Salzburg, Austria; the state of Bavaria in Germany; and at the 20th Century Fox studios in California, United States. It was photographed in the 70mm Todd-AO format by Ted D. McCord.

The film won five Academy Awards including Best Picture and displaced Gone with the Wind as the highest-grossing film of all-time while the accompanying soundtrack album was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Album of the Year. The film has popularized songs from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, including "Edelweiss", "My Favorite Things", "Climb Ev'ry Mountain", "Do-Re-Mi", "Sixteen Going on Seventeen", "The Lonely Goatherd", and the title song, "The Sound of Music".

In 2001, the United States Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry as it was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."


In 1938, while living as a young postulant at Nonnberg Abbey in Salzburg, Austria, Maria is constantly getting into mischief to the consternation of the nuns and the Mother Abbess. After receiving a request from a widowed Austrian naval captain for a governess for his seven children, Mother Abbess asks Maria to accept the position, and Maria reluctantly agrees. When she arrives at the von Trapp estate, Maria discovers that Captain Georg von Trapp keeps it in strict shipshape order. He uses a whistle to summon his children, issues orders, and dresses his children in sailor-suit uniforms. Although initially hostile, the children quickly warm to her thanks to her kind nature and she teaches them how to sing and allows them to play.

The Captain takes an extended visit to a lady friend, Baroness Elsa Schraeder, a wealthy socialite from Vienna, who accompanies him upon his return. While taking a boat ride on the lake, the children become excited at their father's return and cause the boat to capsize, precipitating an argument between the Captain and Maria. The Captain is displeased with the activities she has arranged for the children and furiously orders her to return to the abbey. However, the Captain later relents when he hears the children singing for the Baroness, and apologizes to Maria and asks her to stay. Max Detweiler—a mutual friend of the Captain and the Baroness—who is searching for a novel musical act to enter into the upcoming Salzburg Festival, is impressed by the children's singing, but the Captain forbids their participation.

At a banquet the Captain has organized in honor of Baroness Schraeder, eleven-year-old Kurt watches the guests dancing the Ländler and he asks Maria to teach him the steps. When the Captain sees Maria dancing in the moonlight, he cuts in and partners her in a graceful performance, culminating in a close embrace; Maria breaks away and blushes, confused about her feelings. At the end of the evening, the Baroness, noticing the Captain's attraction to Maria, convinces her to return to the abbey. Back at the abbey, Maria keeps herself in seclusion until Mother Abbess persuades her to return to the von Trapp family. When she discovers that the Captain is now engaged to the Baroness, she agrees to stay until they find a replacement governess. Realizing that he is in love with Maria, the Captain breaks off the engagement, and they subsequently declare their love for each other; soon after, the two are married in an elaborate ceremony.

While the Captain and Maria are on their honeymoon in Paris, Max enters the children in the Salzburg Music Festival against their father's wishes. Austria is annexed into the Third Reich in the Anschluss, and upon their return the Captain is informed by telegram that he must report as soon as possible to the German Naval Headquarters in Bremerhaven to accept a commission in the German navy. Strongly opposed to Nazism, the Captain tells his family they must leave Austria. As the von Trapp family attempts to leave during the night, they are stopped by Nazi guards outside their estate. They lie to the guards, claiming they are performing in the Salzburg Festival, so Hans Zeller, the recently appointed Nazi Gauleiter, agrees to accompany them to the hall, but insists that the Captain depart for Germany immediately after the performance. The family takes part in the contest and slip away during their final number, seeking shelter from the patrolling guards at the abbey cemetery. They are discovered hiding by Rolfe (a former messenger boy enamoured of the Captain's sixteen-year-old daughter, Liesl, but now a proud Nazi) who threatens to shoot the Captain. The Captain is able to disarm the boy and tries to persuade him to escape with them, but Rolfe calls for assistance. After the family escapes in a waiting car, the Nazis try to pursue but their cars fail to start, having been sabotaged by the nuns. The von Trapp family hikes over the Alps into Switzerland and to freedom.


  • Julie Andrews as Maria, a free-spirited young Austrian woman studying as a postulant to become a nun at Nonnberg Abbey in Salzburg. Her love of music and the mountains, her youthful enthusiasm and imagination, and her lack of discipline make her seem out of place to the other nuns. She is sent to the home of Captain von Trapp to be governess to his seven children.
  • Christopher Plummer as Captain von Trapp, a retired Austrian naval officer who has been raising his seven children alone using strict military discipline to suppress his sadness over the death of his first wife. After Maria reintroduces music to the family, he becomes a warmer and more loving person.
  • Eleanor Parker as the Baroness, Elsa von Schraeder, who is the Captain's elegant lady friend and fiancée from Vienna. During her stay at the von Trapp villa, she becomes jealous of Maria, and persuades her to return to the abbey to avoid the Captain's obvious affections. When the Captain calls off their engagement, she is gracious and returns to Vienna.
  • Richard Haydn as Max Detweiler, a good friend of both the Baroness and the Captain, and an impresario. While searching Salzburg for talented singers, he hears the von Trapp children singing, and tries to convince the Captain to let him enter them in the Salzburg Festival.
  • Peggy Wood as Mother Abbess, the head of Nonnberg Abbey, who sends Maria to the von Trapp villa to work as a governess. When she learns that Maria has returned to the abbey to avoid her feelings for the Captain, she encourages her to return to the villa to look for her life.
  • Charmian Carr as Liesl, the first and eldest child, who is sixteen years old. She cares deeply for her younger siblings and believes she does not need a governess at first, but soon comes to trust Maria and welcomes her guidance. She is in love with a messenger boy named Rolfe, who delivers their telegrams, but later betrays her and her family.
  • Nicholas Hammond as Friedrich, the second child and elder son, who is fourteen years old. He puts up a tough exterior and tries to be "the man" of the family, but is also very quiet and something of a gentleman. When he introduces himself to Maria, he tells her that he is "impossible", according to one previous governess.
  • Heather Menzies as Louisa, the third child, who is thirteen years old. A bit of a daydreamer, she and her younger sister Brigitta are often together. Her two favorite tricks on governesses are to fill their beds with spiders and to pretend that she is one of her sisters. She tries this ruse on Maria, but fails.
  • Duane Chase as Kurt, the fourth child and younger boy, who is eleven years old. He often tries to act manly, enjoys playing mischievous tricks on governesses, and tells Maria that he's been called "incorrigible", not knowing what that means. He questions Maria about many things, and at the ball, tries to learn an Austrian folk dance.
  • Angela Cartwright as Brigitta, the fifth child, who is ten years old. When called to meet Maria for the first time, she is the last to arrive, casually reading a book. She is sharp-witted, honest, and not afraid to speak her mind about things. Maria later remarks that Brigitta "notices everything".
  • Debbie Turner as Marta, the sixth child, who is six years old, but tells Maria that her seventh birthday is approaching. She is the first child to show Maria kindness, and gets along well with her. A sweet and gentle child, she shares Maria's love of the color pink, and hopes to get a pink parasol for her birthday.
  • Kym Karath as Gretl, the seventh and youngest child, who is five years old. She initially comes across as shy—her father has to give Maria her name—but soon she opens up to Maria. She is the second child to show Maria kindness, saying that she likes her.
  • Anna Lee as Sister Margaretta, a nun who looks fondly on Maria. She and Sister Berthe help the von Trapp family escape by sabotaging the cars of the Gauleiter and his soldiers.
  • Portia Nelson as Sister Berthe, a nun who does not believe Maria belongs in the abbey. She and Sister Margaretta help the von Trapp family escape by sabotaging the cars of the Gauleiter and his soldiers.
  • Ben Wright as Herr Zeller, an enthusiastic Nazi supporter, who takes exception to the Captain's Austrian patriotism and opposition to Nazism. After the Anschluss he is appointed Gauleiter of the region.
  • Daniel Truhitte as Rolfe, a telegram delivery boy who is in love with Liesl. The two become estranged when his enthusiasm for the Nazi cause leaves him with little time for such trivial matters as romance. The Captain shows him contempt when he learns that the boy is a Nazi supporter.
  • Norma Varden as Frau Schmidt, the housekeeper who tells Maria that the Captain may return from Vienna engaged to the Baroness.
  • Gil Stuart as Franz, the butler, who supports the Nazi cause and provides Rolfe with information about the Captain.
  • Marni Nixon as Sister Sophia, who tells Mother Abbess that she loves Maria dearly, but acknowledges that she "always seems to be in trouble".
  • Evadne Baker as Sister Bernice, one of the nuns at the abbey.
  • Doris Lloyd as Baronness Ebberfeld, a guest at the Captain's ball.


The Sound of Music story is based on Maria von Trapp's memoir, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, published in 1949 to help promote her family's singing group following the death of her husband Georg in 1947.[4] Hollywood producers expressed interest in purchasing the title only, but Maria refused, wanting her entire story to be told.[4] In 1956, German producer Wolfgang Liebeneiner purchased the film rights for $9,000 (equivalent to $78,070 in 2015), hired George Hurdalek and Herbert Reinecker to write the screenplay, and Franz Grothe to supervise the soundtrack, which included traditional Austrian folk songs.[5] The Trapp Family was released in West Germany on October 9, 1956 and became a major success.[4] Two years later, Liebeneiner directed a sequel, The Trapp Family in America, and the two pictures became the most successful films in West Germany during the post-war years.[4] Their popularity extended throughout Europe and South America.[4]

In 1956, Paramount Pictures purchased the United States film rights, intending to produce an English-language version with Audrey Hepburn as Maria.[4] The studio eventually dropped its option, but one of its directors, Vincent J. Donehue, proposed the story as a stage musical for Mary Martin.[4] Producers Richard Halliday and Leland Heyward secured the rights and hired playwrights Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, who had won the Pulitzer Prize for State of the Union.[5] They approached Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II to compose one song for the musical, but the composers felt the two styles—traditional Austrian folk songs and their composition—would not work together, and offered to write a complete new score for the entire production.[5] The Sound of Music stage musical opened on November 16, 1959 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in New York City and ran on Broadway for 1,443 performances, winning six Tony Awards, including Best Musical.[6] In June 1960, Twentieth Century Fox purchased the film adaptation rights to the stage musical for $1.25 million (equivalent to $9,964,848 in 2015) against ten percent of the gross.[7][Note 1]


Screenplay and pre-production[edit]

In December 1962, 20th Century Fox president Richard D. Zanuck hired Ernest Lehman to write the screenplay for the film adaptation of the stage musical.[8] Lehman reviewed the original script for the stage musical, rearranged the sequence of songs, and began transforming a work designed for the stage into a film that could use the camera to emphasize action and mood, and open the story up to the beautiful locations of Salzburg and the Austrian Alps.[9] The "Do-Re-Mi" sequence, for example, was originally a stagnant number in the play; Lehman transformed it into a lively montage showing some of the beautiful sites of Salzburg, as well as showing Maria and the children growing closer over time.[9] Lehman also eliminated two songs, "How Can Love Survive" and "No Way to Stop It", sung by the characters of Elsa and Max.[9] In January 1963, he saw the Fox English-dubbed version of the two German films, was not especially impressed, and decided to use the stage musical and Maria's memoir for most of his source material.[10] While Lehman was developing the screenplay, he and Zanuck began looking for a director. Their first choice was Robert Wise, with whom Lehman had worked on the film adaptation of West Side Story, but Wise was busy preparing work for another film, The Sand Pebbles.[11] Other directors were approached and turned down the offer, including Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly.[11]

In January 1963, Lehman invited one of his favorite directors, William Wyler, to travel to New York with him to see the Broadway musical. After seeing the show, Wyler said he hated it, but after two weeks of Lehman's persuasion, Wyler reluctantly agreed to direct and produce the film.[12] After hiring musical supervisor Roger Edens, Wyler, Lehman, and Edens traveled to Salzburg to scout filming locations.[13] In two weeks they managed to see approximately seventy-five locations—an experience that helped Lehman conceptualize several important sequences.[14] During that trip, Lehman began to have reservations about Wyler's commitment to the project, and communicated this to Zanuck, who instructed the writer to finalize the first draft of the screenplay as quickly as possible.[15] Lehman completed the first draft on September 10, 1963 and sent it to Wyler, who had no suggestions or changes.[15] At that time, Lehman also secretly gave a copy of the script to the agent of Robert Wise, whom Lehman still wanted as the director.[15] Later that month, Wyler's agent approached Zanuck asking that production on the film be delayed so Wyler could direct another film, The Collector. Zanuck told him to tell Wyler to make the other film, and that they would move ahead on schedule with another director, ending Wyler's participation.[15]

Meanwhile, Wise, whose film The Sand Pebbles had been postponed, read Lehman's first draft, was impressed by what he read, and agreed to direct the film.[16] Wise joined the picture in October 1963,[17] and flew to Salzburg with associate producer Saul Chaplin and members of his production team to scout filming locations, including many that Wyler had identified.[18] When he returned, Wise began working on the script. Wise shared Lehman's vision of the film being centered around the music, and the changes he made were consistent with the writer's approach—mainly reducing the amount of sweetness and sentimentality found in the stage musical.[17] He had reservations about Lehman's opening aerial sequence because they'd used a similar opening in West Side Story, but decided to keep it.[17] Other changes included replacing "An Ordinary Couple" with a more romantic number, and a new song for Maria's departure from the abbey—Rodgers provided "Something Good" and "I Have Confidence" especially for the film.[19] Lehman completed the second draft on December 20, 1963,[20] but additional changes would be made based on the input on Maria von Trapp and Christopher Plummer about the character of the Captain. Plummer especially helped transform a character lacking substance into a stronger, more forceful complex figure with a wry sense of humor and a darker edge.[21] Lehman completed his final draft on March 20, 1964.[22]

Casting and rehearsals[edit]

Lehman's first and only choice for Maria was Julie Andrews.[23] When Wise joined the project, he made a list of his choices for the role, which included Andrews as his first choice, Grace Kelly, and Shirley Jones.[24] Wise and Lehman went to Disney Studios to view footage from Mary Poppins, which was not yet released. A few minutes into the film, Wise told Lehman, "Let's go sign this girl before somebody else sees this film and grabs her!"[23] Andrews had some reservations—mainly about the amount of sweetness in the theatrical version—but when she learned that her concerns were shared by Wise and Lehman and what their vision was, she signed a contract with Fox to star in The Sound of Music and one other film for $225,000.[25] Wise had a more difficult time casting the role of the Captain. A number of actors were considered for the part, including Bing Crosby, Yul Brynner, Sean Connery, and Richard Burton.[26] Wise had seen Christopher Plummer on Broadway and wanted him for the role, but the stage actor turned down the offer several times. Wise flew to London to meet with Plummer and explained his concept of the film; the actor accepted after being assured that he could work with Lehman to improve the character.[27]

Wise also spent considerable time and effort on casting the secondary characters. For the role of Max Detweiler, Wise initially considered Victor Borge, Noël Coward, and Hal Holbrook among others before deciding on Richard Haydn.[27] For the character of Baroness Elsa Schraeder, Wise looked for a name actress—Andrews and Plummer were not yet well known—and decided on Eleanor Parker.[27] The casting of the children characters began in November 1963 and involved over two hundred interviews and auditions throughout the United States and England.[28] Some of the child-actors interviewed or tested and were not selected included Mia Farrow, Patty Duke, Lesley-Anne Down, Geraldine Chaplin, Shelley Fabares, Teri Garr, Kurt Russell, and The Osmonds.[29] Most of the actors selected had some acting, singing, or dancing experience. Charmian Farnon, however, was a model who worked part-time in a doctor's office and had no ambition to pursue a career as an actress.[30] After a friend sent her photo to Wise's office, she was asked to interview. Wise later recalled, "She was so pretty and had such poise and charm that we liked her immediately."[30] The last person to be cast was Dan Truhitte in the role of Rolf.[30]

Rehearsals for the singing and dance sequences began on February 10, 1964.[31] The husband-and-wife team of Marc Breaux and Dee Dee Wood, who had worked with Andrews on Mary Poppins, worked out the choreography with Saul Chaplin on piano—the arrangements could not be altered under Rodgers and Hammerstein's contract.[32] The stage choreography was not used because it was too restrictive.[33] Breaux and Wood worked out all new choreography better suited for film that incorporated many of the Salzburg locations and settings.[33] They even choreographed the puppet dance sequence for "The Lonely Goatherd".[34] The choreography for the Ländler strictly followed the traditional Austrian folk dance.[33] The musical arranger Irwin Kostal prerecorded the songs with a large orchestra and singers on a stage prior to the start of filming.[35] Kostal used seven children and five adults to record the children's voices; the only scene where the child-actors actually sing is when they sing "The Sound of Music" on their own after Maria leaves.[36] The voices of some of the adult actors also had voice doubles, including Peggy Wood and Christopher Plummer.[37]

Filming and post-production[edit]

Principal photography began on March 26, 1964 at 20th Century Fox studios in Los Angeles, where scenes from Maria's bedroom and the abbey cloister and graveyard were filmed.[38] The company then flew to Salzburg where filming resumed on April 23 at Mondsee Abbey for the wedding scenes.[39] From April 25 through May 22, scenes were filmed at the Felsenreitschule (festival concert), Nonnberg Abbey, Mirabell Palace Gardens, Residence Fountain, and various street locations throughout the Altstadt (Old Town) area of he city.[39] On days when it rained—a constant challenge for the company—Wise arranged for scenes to be shot at St. Margarethen Chapel and Dürer Studios (Reverend Mother's office).[40] From May 23 to June 7, the company worked at Schloss Leopoldskron and an adjacent property called Bertelsmann for scenes representing the back of the Von Trapp villa.[41] From June 9 to 19, scenes were shot at Frohnburg Palace which represented the front of the villa.[41] The "Do-Re-Me" picnic scene in the mountains was filmed above the town of Werfen in the Salzach River valley on June 25 and 27.[41] The opening sequence of Maria on her mountain was filmed from June 28 to July 2 at Mehlweg mountain near the town of Marktschellenberg in Bavaria.[42][Note 2] The final scene of the Von Trapp family escaping over the mountains was filmed on the Obersalzberg in the Bavarian Alps.[43]

The cast and crew flew back to Los Angeles and resumed filming at Fox studios on July 6 for all remaining scenes, including those in the villa dining room, ballroom, terrace, living room, and gazebo.[44] Following the last two scenes shot in the gazebo—for the songs "Something Good" and "You Are Sixteen"—principal photography concluded on September 1, 1964.[44] A total of eighty-three scenes were filmed in just over five months.[45] Post-production work began on August 25 with three weeks of dialogue dubbing to correct lines that were ruined by various street noises and rain.[46] In October, Christopher Plummer's singing voice was dubbed by veteran Disney playback singer Bill Lee.[47] The film was then edited by Wise and film editor William Reynolds.[48] Once the film was edited, Irwin Kostel, who orchestrated the musical numbers, undercored the film with background music consisting of variations on Rodgers and Hammerstein's original songs to amplify or add nuances to the visual images.[47][48] When dubbing, editing, and scoring were complete, Wise arranged for two preview showings, the first one held in Minneapolis on February 1, 1965 at the Mann theater, and the second one held in Tulsa, shortly thereafter.[49] Despite the "sensational" responses from the preview audiences, Wise made a few final editing changes before completing the film.[49]

The Sound of Music was filmed in 70 mm Todd-AO by Ted McCord and produced with DeLuxe Color processing.[50] Aerial footage was photographed with an MCS-70 camera.[50] The sound was recorded using a Westrex recording system.[50]

Historical accuracy[edit]

Both the musical and the film present a history of the von Trapp family, albeit one that is not completely accurate. The following are examples of the dramatic license taken by the filmmakers:

  • Georg Ludwig von Trapp was indeed anti-Nazi and opposed to the Anschluss, and lived with his family in a villa in a district of Salzburg called Aigen; however, the lifestyle depicted in the film greatly exaggerated their standard of living. The real family villa (located at Traunstraße 34, Aigen 5026 in Salzburg) was large and comfortable but nowhere near as grand as the palace depicted in the film. The house was also not the ancestral home depicted in the film. The family had previously lived in homes in Zell Am See and Klosterneuburg after being forced to abandon their actual ancestral home in Pola due to the war. Georg moved the family to the Salzburg villa shortly after the death of his first wife in 1922.[51]
  • Georg had lost most of the family fortune, inherited from his first wife, the heiress Agathe Whitehead, in a poor business decision trying to prop up a failing Austrian bank managed by a friend a few years after his marriage to Maria. This left the von Trapps virtually bankrupt and they managed to get by only by laying off all of the staff and by taking in boarders. The family’s entry into the music business was primarily due to their precarious financial situation, a fact that caused the proud Georg much embarrassment.[52]
  • Maria Augusta Kutschera had indeed been a novice at Benedictine Abbey of Nonnberg in Salzburg and had been hired by the von Trapp family. However she was hired only to be a tutor to young Maria Franziska ("Louisa" in the movie), who had come down with scarlet fever and needed her lessons at home, not to be a governess for all of the children.[51]
  • Practicality rather than love and affection moved Georg and Maria to marry. Georg needed a mother figure for the children; in deciding not to return to the convent Maria needed the security of a husband and family. Despite the film's portrayal of their budding romance, Maria admitted in her autobiography Maria, that she was not in love with Georg at the time of their marriage. "I really and truly was not in love. I liked him but didn't love him. However, I loved the children, so in a way I really married the children." Maria did however later intimate that she grew to love Georg over time and enjoyed a happy marriage.[51]
  • Georg is referred to as Baron von Trapp but his actual family title was "Ritter" (German for "knight"). Ritter is a hereditary knighthood closer to the British "baronet" than "baron". Furthermore, the Austrian nobility was legally abolished in 1919 and the nobiliary particle von was proscribed so he was legally "Georg Trapp". In reality however both the title and the von particle continued to be widely used unofficially as a matter of courtesy.[51]
  • Maria and Georg were married in 1927, not in 1938 as depicted in the film. The couple had been married for over a decade by the time of the Anschluss and had two of their three children together by that time.[51]
  • Georg is depicted in the film as a humorless martinet and an emotionally distant father. In reality, third child Maria von Trapp (called "Louisa" in the film), described her father as a doting parent who made handmade gifts for the children in his woodshop and who would often lead family musicales on his violin. She has a different recollection of her stepmother however. Far from the sweet and demure woman depicted in the film, Maria von Trapp recalls her stepmother Maria as being moody and prone to outbursts of manic rage. "[She] had a terrible temper. . . . And from one moment to the next, you didn't know what hit her. We were not used to this. But we took it like a thunderstorm that would pass, because the next minute she could be very nice," she stated in a 2003 interview.[53]
  • Georg had been offered a position in the Kriegsmarine but this occurred before the Anschluss. He was being heavily recruited by the Nazis because he had extensive experience with submarines and Germany was looking to expand its fleet of U-boats. Unlike in the film, Georg seriously pondered the offer before turning it down. His family was in desperate financial straits and he had no other marketable skills other than his training as a naval officer. He eventually decided that he could not serve a Nazi regime. Rather than threaten arrest, the Nazis actually continued to try to woo him.[51]
  • Georg was never in serious danger of being arrested by the Nazis. He had turned down the Kriegsmarine commission before the Nazis had taken over Austria so they could not have arrested him at that time even if they had wanted. In fact, after leaving Austria, he and the family visited Austria again and stayed for several months in 1939 before departing again for good without incident. This was nearly a year after their emigration and after the Anschluss when the Nazis could have easily detained him.[51]
  • The Anschluss occurred in March, and the Salzburg Music Festival is held in June; therefore, the family could not have escaped after their festival performance before the borders closed. However, it is likely that this is why they are shown hiking over the mountain across the border: to avoid the checkpoints.[51]
  • The bell cord on the real Nonnberg Abbey is strictly a prop created by the film crew and is entirely non-functional. The nuns liked it however and asked that it be left after the film crew vacated.[51]
  • The character Max Detweiler, the scheming family music director, is entirely fictional. The von Trapps' priest, the Reverend Franz Wasner, acted as their musical director for over 20 years and accompanied them when they left Austria.[51]
  • The film shows the von Trapp family hiking over the Alps from Austria to Switzerland, but from Salzburg this would be impossible. Salzburg is only a few kilometers away from the Austrian–German border and is much too far from either the Swiss or Italian borders for the family to reach by walking. In fact, a hike over the mountain from Salzburg would put them in the German town of Berchtesgaden and virtually within sight of Adolf Hitler's vacation cottage at Obersalzberg. However, the family most likely did not intend to leave Salzburg on foot. They are shown to escape from Salzburg by car, so theoretically they could have driven through the night to a point closer to the Swiss (or Italian) border before starting their hike.[51]
  • In fact rather than making a daring nighttime hike, the von Trapp family simply walked to the local train station and boarded a train to Italy. Although he was an ethnic German-Austrian, Georg was born in the Dalmatian city of Zadar, which at that time was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire but fell into Italian territory after the empire was divided following World War I. Because of his birthplace he could legally claim Italian citizenship. From Italy, they traveled to London and ultimately the United States. Maria Franziska von Trapp ("Louisa" in the movie) later intimated, "We did tell people that we were going to America to sing. And we did not climb over mountains with all our heavy suitcases and instruments. We left by train, pretending nothing."[51]
  • Friedrich (the second oldest child in the film version) was based on Rupert, the oldest of the real von Trapp children. Liesl (the oldest child in the film) was based on Agathe von Trapp, the second oldest in the real family. The names and ages of the children were changed, in part because the third child (who would be portrayed as "Louisa") was also named Maria and producers thought that it would be confusing to have two characters called Maria in the film.[51]
  • The film was largely filmed in the city and county of Salzburg and Upper Austria, including sites such as Nonnberg Abbey, and St. Peter's Cemetery. Leopoldskron Palace, Frohnburg Palace and Hellbrunn Palace were some of the locations used for the Trapp estate in the film.[51]

The inaccuracies between the true story and the theatre and film depictions cannot be blamed on the von Trapps themselves. They had given up the rights to their story to a German producer in the 1950s who then sold them to American producers. The von Trapps had little if any input into the subsequent musical and film. Maria in fact was reportedly quite upset with the portrayal of her husband as a humorless taskmaster."[51]


The soundtrack to The Sound of Music was written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, and arranged and conducted by Irwin Kostal, who also adapted the instrumental underscore passages. The soundtrack album was released on the RCA Victor label in 1965, and reached number one in June of that year and spent a total of 70 weeks at the top over several runs.[54] It was the biggest-selling album in the United Kingdom 1965, 1966, and 1968 and the second biggest-selling of the entire decade. The Sound of Music also stayed 73 weeks on the Norwegian charts, becoming the seventh best-charting album of all time in that country.[55]

All songs written and composed by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, except where noted. 

No. Title Writer(s) Sung by Length
1. "Prelude and The Sound of Music" (0:01:15[Note 3])   Maria 2:44
2. "Overture and Preludium (Dixit Dominus)" (0:04:55) Traditional Nuns 3:14
3. "Morning Hymn and Alleluia" (0:08:07) Traditional Nuns 2:02
4. "Maria" (0:11:00)   Nuns 3:16
5. "I Have Confidence" (0:18:51) Richard Rodgers Maria 3:26
6. "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" (0:38:58)   Rolfe and Liesl 3:17
7. "My Favorite Things" (0:49:40)   Maria 2:16
8. "Salzburg Montage" (Instrumental underscore, 0:54:25)      
9. "Do-Re-Mi" (0:57:15)   Maria and children 5:32
10. "The Sound of Music" (Reprise, 1:14:37)     2:10
11. "The Lonely Goatherd" (1:18:48)   Maria and children 3:09
12. "Edelweiss" (1:24:55)   Captain 1:49
13. "The Grand Waltz" (Instrumental underscore based on "My Favorite Things", 1:28:01)      
14. "Ländler" (Instrumental, 1:30:11)     2:26
15. "So Long, Farewell" (1:33:28)   Children 2:53
16. "Processional Waltz" (Instrumental underscore, 1:36:27)      
17. "Goodbye Maria Waltz" (Instrumental underscore, incorporating "Edelweiss" and "How Can Love Survive?", 1:40:03)      
18. "Entr'acte" (Instrumental, "I Have Confidence", "So Long, Farewell", "Do-Re-Mi", "Something Good", and "The Sound of Music", 1:42:43)     2:06
19. "The Sound of Music" (Reprise, 1:46:49)   Children  
20. "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" (1:55:23)   Mother Abbess 2:13
21. "My Favorite Things" (Reprise, 2:00:10)   Maria and children 1:15
22. "Something Good" (2:11:44) Richard Rodgers Maria and the Captain 3:17
23. "Processional and Maria" (Instrumental, 2:15:54)     2:26
24. "Sixteen Going on Seventeen" (Reprise, 2:26:18)   Maria and Liesl 3:04
25. "Do-Re-Mi" (Reprise, 2:34:37)   Family 1:19
26. "Edelweiss" (Reprise, 2:36:22)   Captain, family, and audience 1:49
27. "So Long, Farewell" (Reprise, 2:39:36)   Family 1:57
28. "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" (Reprise, 2:52:34)     1:20
29. "Finale" (Instrumental, based on "The Sound of Music", 2:53:52)     0:38



The film premiered March 2, 1965 in the United States.[57] According to The Oxford Companion to the American Musical (2008) "the wildly mixed film reviews echoed those of the Broadway critics"[58] while in The Oxford Companion to Film (1976) the response of reviewers is described as "lukewarm".[59] Film critic Pauline Kael responded to the film by calling it "the sugar-coated lie people seem to want to eat," and "we have been turned into emotional and aesthetic imbeciles when we hear ourselves humming the sickly, goody-goody songs."[60] This review reportedly led to Kael's dismissal from McCall's magazine.[60][61] As of April 2014 it holds an 85% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[62]

Controversy surrounded the film's release in Germany and Austria, where the film had to compete with the much-loved Die Trapp-Familie (1956), which provided the original inspiration for the Broadway musical, and its sequel Die Trapp-Familie in Amerika (1958), which are regarded in German-speaking Europe as the authoritative von Trapp story. According to a documentary titled From Fact to Phenomenon: The Real Story of the von Trapp Family Singers (1994), which was narrated by Claire Bloom and included on the 30th Anniversary Laserdisc box set of the film, "...the film's Nazi overtones brought about the unauthorized cutting of the entire third act," which begins directly after Maria's wedding to the Captain and contains images of post-Anschluss Austria. This version, ending at the church altar, did passably well at the box office, but when the American studio forced the third act to be restored to the German release, audience attendance plummeted. Austrian filmgoers in particular resented the way Naziism in their country was depicted. Other offenses in the Austrians' eyes were the way the family's kindly manager, Father Wasner, was transformed into a sleazy huckster; changing the family's genre of music into show tunes; and a contrived (and fictional) climactic flight over the mountains to Switzerland, which does not border Salzburg. As a result, in Austria and Germany the movie is often ignored.[63]

The Sound of Music is credited as the film that saved 20th Century Fox, after extreme high production costs and financial losses incurred by Cleopatra (1963) that almost bankrupted the studio.[61] The film was re-released in the United States during 1973 and earned an estimated $11 million in rentals.[64]

Upon its initial release, The Sound of Music briefly displaced Gone with the Wind as the highest-grossing film of all-time;[65] taking re-releases into account, it ultimately grossed $286 million internationally.[2] Adjusted to contemporary prices it is the most successful musical ever made, as well as being the third highest-grossing film at the North American box office and the fifth highest-grossing film worldwide.[66][67]

The soundtrack album on the RCA Victor label has sold over 11 million copies worldwide, and has never been out of print. The soundtrack album was included in the stockpile of records held in 20 underground radio stations of Great Britain's Wartime Broadcasting Service, designed to provide public information and morale-boosting broadcasts for 100 days after a nuclear attack.[68][69]

Television and home video[edit]

The first American television transmission of the film was on ABC on February 29, 1976, to record ratings. However, the film was not seen on TV again until NBC acquired the broadcast rights. NBC's first telecast of the film was on February 11, 1979.[70] NBC continued to air it annually for twenty-one years, often preempting regular programming. During most of its run on NBC, the film was heavily edited to fit a three-hour time slot (approximately 140 minutes without commercials). The 30 minutes of edits, which bewildered those familiar with the complete film, included: portions of the "Morning Hymn/Alleluia", sung by the nuns; part of dialogue scene in abbey between Mother Abbess and Maria; part of Liesl and Rolf's dialogue preceding "Sixteen Going on Seventeen"; Liesl's verse of "Edelweiss" sung with the Captain; the Captain and Baroness waltzing at the party, and many more dialogue cuts within existing scenes.

Starting in 1995, the film aired in an uncut form on NBC (on April 9, 1995, minus the entr'acte). Julie Andrews hosted the four-hour telecast which presented the musical numbers in a letterbox format. As the film's home video availability cut into its TV ratings, NBC let their contract lapse at the turn of the 21st century. In 2001 it had a one time airing on the Fox network, again in its heavily edited 140-minute version. Since 2002 it has aired on ABC (generally during Christmas week), and periodically (generally around Easter and other holidays) on its sister cable network, ABC Family, where its most recent runs have been the full version in a four-hour time slot, complete with the entr'acte. ABC first broadcast an HD resolution version on December 28, 2008. ABC's December 22, 2013 airing of the film attracted 6.5 million viewers—its highest ratings since 2007. The increased viewership was credited to NBC's broadcast of a live adaptation of the musical based upon its Broadway version, earlier that month (ironically, the film was beaten by another NBC program, a Sunday-night NFL football game).[71] The next year a "sing-a-long" format, in which the words to every song appear onscreen, debuted.

The film has been released on VHS, Laserdisc, and DVD numerous times. It made its DVD debut on August 29, 2000 in commemoration of its 35th Anniversary. The film is often included in box sets with other Rodgers & Hammerstein film adaptations. A 40th anniversary DVD, with "making of" documentaries and special features, was released in 2005. The film made its debut issue on Blu-ray Disc on November 2, 2010, for its 45th anniversary.[72][73] For the Blu-ray release, the original 70mm negatives were rescanned at 8K resolution, then restored and remastered at 4K resolution for the transfer to Blu-ray, giving the most detailed copy of the film seen thus far.

As part of the 50th anniversary of The Sound of Music, Fox Home Entertainment will release the 50th Anniversary 5-Disc Ultimate Collector's Edition Set on March 10, 2015, featuring the documentary The Sound of a City: Julie Andrews Returns to Salzburg.

Sing-A-Long Sound of Music[edit]

Sing-A-Long Sound of Music revival screenings began in London, where the audience was encouraged to sing along to lyrics superimposed on the screen. Following a successful run there, the film began a successful run in New York in 2000.[74] Audiences would dress in costume and hold contests at screenings. The revival continued to tour globally following the New York run. A sing-a-long screening at the Hollywood Bowl was featured in an extra on the two-DVD set.[75]


Awards and nominations[edit]

Award Category Nominee Result
Academy Awards[76] Best Picture Robert Wise Won
Best Actress in a Leading Role Julie Andrews Nominated
Best Actress in a Supporting Role Peggy Wood
Best Director Robert Wise Won
Best Cinematography – Color Ted D. McCord Nominated
Best Art Direction – Set Decoration – Color Boris Leven (art direction);
Walter M. Scott and
Ruby R. Levitt (set decoration)
Best Costume Design – Color Dorothy Jeakins
Best Sound Mixing James Corcoran and Fred Hynes;
20th Century Fox Sound Department
Best Film Editing William H. Reynolds
Best Music, Scoring of Music – Adaptation or Treatment Irwin Kostal
American Cinema Editors Awards 1966 Best Edited Feature Film William H. Reynolds
BAFTA Awards Best British Actress Julie Andrews Nominated
David di Donatello Awards Best Foreign Actress
Directors Guild of America[76] Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures Robert Wise Won
Golden Globe Awards[76] Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy The Sound of Music
Best Motion Picture Actress – Musical or Comedy Julie Andrews
Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Peggy Wood Nominated
Best Director – Motion Picture Robert Wise
Laurel Awards General Entertainment The Sound of Music Won
Musical Performance, Female Julie Andrews
National Board of Review[76] Top Ten Films of 1965 The Sound of Music
New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress Julie Andrews 2nd place
Writers Guild of America Best Written American Musical Ernest Lehman Won

AFI recognition[edit]

The Sound of Music has been included in numerous top film lists from the American Film Institute.


  • Beginning in 2005, and becoming an annual event, the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles holds an annual Sound of Music sing-a-long, where the film is played with lyrics underneath the screen. The real Von Trapp children and the actors who played them in the film have made appearances at this event. Fondly called "The Rocky Horror Picture Show on Prozac", the Hollywood Bowl event has sold out every year since its inception.
  • The title song was used in the 2001 Baz Luhrmann jukebox musical film Moulin Rouge!, in the green fairy sequence featuring Kylie Minogue, who later used the recording in her 2002 and 2009 tours.
  • On October 28, 2010, in honor of the film's 45th anniversary, Andrews and Plummer ("Maria" and "the Captain"), plus the film's seven child stars, appeared together on The Oprah Winfrey Show (the first time ever since the film's 1965 release).
  • A key episode in Arundhati Roy's "The God of Small Things" features the boy Estha, one of the book's protagonists, going to see "The Sound of Music" in a theatre at his Kerala, India hometown and there being sexually assaulted by a lemonade vendor - a traumatic experience utterly antithetical to the film's own atmosphere.



  1. ^ Twentieth Century Fox also purchased the rights to the two German films for distribution in the United States. Fox combined the two films, Die Trapp-Familie and Die Trapp-Familie in Amerika, dubbed them in English, and released them as a single 106-minute film titled The Trapp Family, which was released on April 19, 1961.[7]
  2. ^ Maria's morning run back to Nonnberg Abbey would have been about 17 kilometres (11 mi).
  3. ^ The start times are based on the 45th Anniversary DVD version of the film. The track lengths refer to the 2005 reissue of the original soundtrack album on CD.[56]


  1. ^ "THE SOUND OF MUSIC (U)". British Board of Film Classification. February 16, 1965. Retrieved January 21, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c "The Sound of Music". The Numbers. Retrieved April 26, 2011. 
  3. ^ Solomon 1989, p. 254.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Hirsch 1993, p. 4.
  5. ^ a b c Hirsch 1993, p. 6.
  6. ^ Hirsch 1993, pp. 7–8.
  7. ^ a b Hirsch 1993, p. 8.
  8. ^ Hirsch 1993, p. 11.
  9. ^ a b c Hirsch 1993, pp. 23–25.
  10. ^ Hirsch 1993, p. 28.
  11. ^ a b Hirsch 1993, p. 13.
  12. ^ Hirsch 1993, pp. 13–14.
  13. ^ Hirsch 1993, p. 15.
  14. ^ Hirsch 1993, p. 31.
  15. ^ a b c d Hirsch 1993, p. 16.
  16. ^ Hirsch 1993, p. 17.
  17. ^ a b c Hirsch 1993, p. 34.
  18. ^ Hirsch 1993, p. 75, 78.
  19. ^ Hirsch 1993, pp. 34–37.
  20. ^ Hirsch 1993, p. 38.
  21. ^ Hirsch 1993, pp. 38–42.
  22. ^ Hirsch 1993, p. 42.
  23. ^ a b Hirsch 1993, p. 49.
  24. ^ Hirsch 1993, p. 50.
  25. ^ Hirsch 1993, p. 51.
  26. ^ Hirsch 1993, pp. 51–53.
  27. ^ a b c Hirsch 1993, pp. 53–54.
  28. ^ Hirsch 1993, p. 61.
  29. ^ Hirsch 1993, pp. 61–63.
  30. ^ a b c Hirsch 1993, pp. 66–67.
  31. ^ Hirsch 1993, p. 92.
  32. ^ Hirsch 1993, pp. 92–93.
  33. ^ a b c Hirsch 1993, p. 93.
  34. ^ Hirsch 1993, p. 95.
  35. ^ Hirsch 1993, pp. 100–101.
  36. ^ Hirsch 1993, p. 103.
  37. ^ Hirsch 1993, pp. 101–104.
  38. ^ Hirsch 1993, pp. 105–106.
  39. ^ a b Hirsch 1993, pp. 106–108.
  40. ^ Hirsch 1993, p. 123.
  41. ^ a b c Hirsch 1993, pp. 109–110.
  42. ^ Hirsch 1993, p. 111.
  43. ^ Hirsch 1993, p. 86.
  44. ^ a b Hirsch 1993, pp. 111–113.
  45. ^ Hirsch 1993, pp. 105–113.
  46. ^ Hirsch 1993, p. 159.
  47. ^ a b Hirsch 1993, p. 160.
  48. ^ a b Hirsch 1993, p. 162.
  49. ^ a b Hirsch 1993, pp. 162–163.
  50. ^ a b c "The Sound of Music Physical Properties". American Film Institute. Retrieved January 24, 2015. 
  51. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Gearin, Joan (Winter 2005). "Movie vs. Reality: The Real Story of the von Trapp Family". National Archives 37 (4). Retrieved February 17, 2013. 
  52. ^ Hirsch 1993, pp. 201–202.
  53. ^ "The Story of My Family". Trapp Family Lodge. Retrieved January 18, 2015. 
  54. ^ "Entertainment | Now 1 reissued for 25th birthday". BBC News. 2009-01-12. Retrieved 2012-03-10. 
  55. ^ "BEST OF ALL TIME - ALBUMS". VG-lista. Hung Medien. Retrieved 22 June 2012. 
  56. ^ "The Sound Of Music (An Original Soundtrack Recording)". Discogs. 2005. Retrieved January 24, 2015. 
  57. ^ "The Sound of Music". American Film Institute. Retrieved August 4, 2014. 
  58. ^ Hischak 2008, p. 697.
  59. ^ Bawden 1976, p. 646.
  60. ^ a b Tucker, Ken. "A Gift for Effrontery". Salon. Retrieved January 18, 2015. 
  61. ^ a b Purdum, Todd (June 1, 2005). "The Sound of Music:40 years of unstoppable success". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved January 18, 2015. 
  62. ^ "The Sound of Music". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 18, 2015. 
  63. ^ Dassanowsky, Robert Von (2003). "An Unclaimed Country: The Austrian Image in American Film and the Sociopolitics of The Sound of Music". Bright Lights Film Journal 41. Retrieved January 18, 2015. 
  64. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1973", Variety, 9 January 1974 p 19
  65. ^ Thomas, Bob (November 23, 1969). "'Sound of Music' Sound Finance". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 22. 
  66. ^ "All Time Box Office Adjusted For Ticket Price Inflation". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved April 2, 2008. 
  67. ^ Glenday, Craig, ed. (2011). Гиннесс. Мировые рекорды 2012 [Guinness World Records 2012] (in Russian, translated by Andrianov, P.I. & Palova, I.V.). Moscow: Astrel. p. 211. ISBN 978-5-271-36423-5. 
  68. ^ Hellen, Nicholas (July 11, 1999). "Julie Andrews to sing to Brits during nuclear attack". The Sunday Times. 
  69. ^ "Article noting that the BBC had The Sound of Music materials ready for broadcast in case of nuclear attack". Archived from the original on 29 May 2010. [dead link]
  70. ^ "Chaos in Television". TIME. March 12, 1979. Retrieved April 2, 2008. 
  71. ^ "‘The Sound Of Music’ Continues To Echo Across The Ratings Landscape". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 24 December 2013. 
  72. ^ Calogne, Juan (August 31, 2010). "The Sound of Music Blu-ray announced". Retrieved November 16, 2010. 
  73. ^ Smotroff, Mark. "HomeTechTell Review: The Sound of Music 45th Anniversary Blu-ray". Hometechtell. Retrieved March 29, 2012. 
  74. ^ Styaff report (September 7, 2000). Crowds Turn Out for Opening of 'Sing-a-Long Sound of Music' in NYC. Playbill
  75. ^ 40th Anniversary DVD special features
  76. ^ a b c d "The Sound of Music (1965): Awards". The New York Times. Retrieved January 24, 2015. 
  77. ^ "AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Movies". American Film Institute. Retrieved February 20, 2013. 
  78. ^ "AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Movies, 10th Anniversary Edition". American Film Institute. Retrieved January 18, 2015. 
  79. ^ "AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Cheers". American Film Institute. Retrieved January 18, 2015. 
  80. ^ "AFI's 100 Years, 100 Heroes and Villains" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved January 18, 2015. 
  81. ^ "AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Musicals". American Film Institute. Retrieved January 18, 2015. 
  82. ^ "AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Passions". American Film Institute. Retrieved January 18, 2015. 
  83. ^ a b c "AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Songs". American Film Institute. Retrieved January 18, 2015. 


  • Bawden, Liz-Anne (1976). The Oxford Companion to Film. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-192-11541-6. 
  • Herman, Jan (1995). A Talent for Trouble. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. ISBN 978-0-399-14012-9. 
  • Hirsch, Julia Antopol (1993). The Sound of Music: The Making of America's Favorite Movie. Chicago: Contemporary Books. ISBN 978-0-809-23837-8. 
  • Hischak, Thomas (2008). The Oxford Companion to the American Musical. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-195-33533-0. 
  • Maslon, Laurence (2007). The Sound of Music Companion. New York: Fireside. ISBN 978-1-416-54954-3. 
  • Solomon, Aubrey (1989). Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. ISBN 978-0-810-84244-1. 

External links[edit]