All That Jazz," "Easter Parade," "Mamma Mia!," and "Take Me Out to the Ballgame"). Four, only four! From me, the musical-obsessed child! And not one of them has been the biggest one. So it's about time I say...time to talk about "The Sound of Music" (1965).
I'm sure you know this story (if you don't, you probably live under a rock). Julie Andrews stars as Maria, a nun-in-training who becomes the governess for seven children and falls in love with their widowed father Captain von Trapp (Christopher Plummer), all the while singing their way through Salzburg, Austria. However, when the Anschluss happens, they must flee Austria to stay free of the Nazis. This is the mega-sensational film adaptation of the smash-hit Broadway play by the legendary team Rogers and Hammerstein. Directed by Robert Wise and screenplay written by Ernest Lehman, it broke the 25-year-old box office record held by "Gone With the Wind" and went on to win Best Picture and four others at the Academy Awards that year.
The Sand Pebbles" dragged on for too long, wanted only one person for Maria - Julie Andrews. At the time, Andrews was only really known for her stage work. "Mary Poppins," her first film, had not even been released yet, but he had seen some rushes from Walt Disney of "Poppins" and knew the mainstream unknown was the one. (Ironically enough, Andrews had lost out on playing Eliza in the film adaptation of "My Fair Lady," a role she originated on Broadway, because she was an unknown.) At first, she was a little wary, thinking Maria was too similar to Mary Poppins, but luckily she changed her mind, because it is her talent and presence that really make "The Sound of Music" soar. Also, during the filming of "Music," she won her Oscar for "Poppins," solidifying her as a star.
The Danny Thomas Show," won the part of Brigitta, but she originally auditioned for the role of Louisa, donned with a blond wig and all. She later said she was glad she got Brigitta because that personality suited her more...and she didn't have to dye her hair. A couple of the boys, though, had to go through grueling hair bleaching for their parts. Both Nicholas Hammond (Friedrich) and Daniel Truhitte (Rolfe) each had to have continuous dye jobs throughout filming so that they would appear more Austrian.
Sixteen Going on Seventeen," was actually 21 during filming. She admitted in her autobiography to having a crush on Plummer, then 35, and flirting with him some. Plummer, being the character he is, flirted back a little too, but, don't worry, nothing went beyond that.
As for the music, I can still sing every song, backwards and forwards. They are all classics stuck in our heads like "Do-Re-Mi" and "My Favorite Things" (which, by the way, needs to stop being sung at Christmas. It's not a Christmas song! It's a scared-of-thunder song!) Two of my favorite songs from the film, "I Have Confidence" and "Something Good," were not part of the original stage production at all. Wise and Lehman went to Richard Rogers and asked him to write two new songs for the film. (Hammerstein died in 1960, with "The Sound of Music" being his last play.) The songs have become so synonymous with the story that most stage productions nowadays use those songs as well.
The King and I," Natalie Wood in Wise's previous Best Picture winner "West Side Story," and even Audrey Hepburn in "My Fair Lady" (that Andrews, of course, lost out on). This was the first of a very few onscreen roles in her career. She didn't have to dub Andrews for "Music." However, Plummer ended up having to be dubbed by singer Bill Lee, and Peggy Wood, knowing she couldn't hit the high notes anymore at age 72, was dubbed by Margery McKay. As for the children, they all sang but Wise added about 4 or so more children to the soundtrack singing, to give them a fuller sound.
So, get out your lederhosen and watch "The Sound of Music"! And if you're in LA, get your tickets for the Hollywood Bowl's "Sound of Music" Sing-along in September. (I'm going for the first time myself this year and can't wait!) And, Stephen, thanks so much for the gift! You rock! Happy birthday this weekend! Love you! Until Friday, everyone. Have a great week.
(Post-tidbit: In 1962, before she was even cast in "The Sound of Music," Julie Andrews did a spoof of the musical with Carol Burnett during "Julie and Carol at Carnegie Hall." Watch the hilarious number below.)