The Sound of Music (1965)

175 mins | Musical, Drama | 1 April 1965

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HISTORY

The onscreen title reads "Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music" .
       The Sound of Music was adapted from the Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II stage musical of the same name, which debuted on Broadway in 1959 to vast commercial success. The musical’s narrative was derived from Maria Augusta von Trapp’s 1949 autobiography, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. At that time, the book had already been made into two popular West German feature films directed by Wolfgang Liebeneiner, Die Trapp-Familie (1956), and its sequel, Die Trapp-Familie in Amerika (1958). A 15 Nov 1959 LAT article, which noted that the stage musical received an unprecedented $2,325,000 in advance sales, explained that its director, Vincent J. Donehue, first learned of The Story of the Trapp Family Singers and its first German film adaptation in the fall of 1956, when he was starting a career in television. Paramount Pictures had optioned rights to Die Trapp-Familie, and approached Donehue about directing an American version, starring Audrey Hepburn. Donehue told the LAT that he found the German picture “amateurish,” but was “terribly moved” by the story and advised Paramount: “You can’t possibly make it as a movie, you’ve got to let it go; the way to do this is a musical for Mary Martin.” Paramount released its option of Die Trapp-Familie when Hepburn became unavailable, and Donehue convinced Mary Martin and her theater producer husband, Richard Halliday, to pursue the property as a musical. However, Maria von Trapp was preoccupied with missionary work in the ... More Less

The onscreen title reads "Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music" .
       The Sound of Music was adapted from the Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II stage musical of the same name, which debuted on Broadway in 1959 to vast commercial success. The musical’s narrative was derived from Maria Augusta von Trapp’s 1949 autobiography, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. At that time, the book had already been made into two popular West German feature films directed by Wolfgang Liebeneiner, Die Trapp-Familie (1956), and its sequel, Die Trapp-Familie in Amerika (1958). A 15 Nov 1959 LAT article, which noted that the stage musical received an unprecedented $2,325,000 in advance sales, explained that its director, Vincent J. Donehue, first learned of The Story of the Trapp Family Singers and its first German film adaptation in the fall of 1956, when he was starting a career in television. Paramount Pictures had optioned rights to Die Trapp-Familie, and approached Donehue about directing an American version, starring Audrey Hepburn. Donehue told the LAT that he found the German picture “amateurish,” but was “terribly moved” by the story and advised Paramount: “You can’t possibly make it as a movie, you’ve got to let it go; the way to do this is a musical for Mary Martin.” Paramount released its option of Die Trapp-Familie when Hepburn became unavailable, and Donehue convinced Mary Martin and her theater producer husband, Richard Halliday, to pursue the property as a musical. However, Maria von Trapp was preoccupied with missionary work in the South Pacific by then, and was unresponsive to their overtures.
       After eight months, the couple partnered with Broadway producer Leland Hayward, who made “six trips to Munich to bring the movie company responsible for ‘The Trapp Family Singers’ to terms.” As part of the deal, the German producers agreed to sell Hayward and Halliday “all future movie rights” to the story in exchange for permission to release Die Trapp-Familie in the U.S. around the time of the musical’s opening, to capitalize on its anticipated success. Maria von Trapp was located in an Innsbruck, Austria, hospital, where she was suffering from malaria, and she finally agreed to the deal, stating: “He [Hayward] told me of the money I would make and how it would help the missions where I have been working in New Guinea. This really got to me.” In addition, Hayward secured releases from the seven von Trapp children, who were scattered around the world.
       Although the family was a singing troupe with its own set, Rodgers & Hammerstein argued in favor of writing an original score for the musical. A 5 Aug 1959 Var news item, which stated that the musical was currently in development, announced that Maria von Trapp planned to publish a sequel to The Story of the Trapp Family Singers (co-written with Ruth T. Murdoch) to coincide with the opening of the musical, titled A Family on Wheels: Further Adventures of the Trapp Family Singers (1959). While Die Trapp Familie is not credited onscreen as source material for The Sound of Music, one of its two screenwriters, George Hurdalek, is named in the credits with the descriptor: “With the partial use of ideas by.”
       On 13 Jun 1960, DV announced that Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. had purchased a fifteen-year lease on screen rights to The Sound of Music for $1.25 million, the largest amount of money paid by a studio for a literary property at the time. The deal marked Twentieth Century-Fox’s fourth acquisition of a Rodgers & Hammerstein musical after Carousel and The King and I (1956, see entries), and South Pacific (1958, see entry). The contract stipulated that The Sound of Music could not be released until 1963, when the musical was set to end its first run on Broadway. By 22 Jun 1960, Twentieth Century-Fox had also taken ownership of “all rights” to the two previous German films about the von Trapps, hoping to mitigate any potential competition, according to a Var article published that day. The pictures were eventually edited together, dubbed into English, and released as The Trapp Family in 1961.
       Meanwhile, Twentieth Century-Fox began production on Cleopatra (1963, see entry), which went $30 million over budget and nearly bankrupted the studio. As the company scrambled to raise funds for Cleopatra, The Sound of Music was given low priority. However, a 23 Mar 1962 DV column announced that Henry Koster, who had recently helmed Universal Pictures’ Flower Drum Song (see entry), the 1961 adaptation of a Broadway musical by the same name, signed a three-picture contract with Twentieth Century-Fox, and was under consideration to direct The Sound of Music. Four months later, the 20 Jul 1962 DV reported that actress Mitzi Gaynor, who starred in South Pacific, and Green-Isle Corp., tried to buy The Sound of Music from Twentieth Century-Fox with a “whopping offer,” but the same publication confirmed on 27 Jul 1962 that the studio was moving forward with Koster as director. Sandra Church was then the top choice for the role of “Maria.” That summer, Twentieth Century-Fox president Spyros Skouras was replaced by Darryl Zanuck due to the financial crisis prompted by Cleopatra, and the studio’s overhead was streamlined with mass layoffs. As the company was threatened with closure, Zanuck contacted screenwriter Ernest Lehman, who adapted The King and I, and was recently nominated for an Academy Award for United Artist Corp.’s West Side Story (1961, see entry). The 10 Dec 1962 DV announced that Lehman would start writing The Sound of Music on 14 Jan 1963. The front-page news item was also a public declaration of Twentieth Century-Fox’s recovery, as noted in the 20 Nov 1966 NYT. Filming was scheduled to begin that summer.
       By early Mar 1963, Koster had been replaced by William Wyler, as reported in the 4 Mar 1963 DV, which noted that Wyler recently resigned his post on Twentieth Century-Fox’s board of directors to avoid any conflict of interest. A production start date was set for 1 Oct 1963. A 5 Mar 1962 DV column stated that filming would begin one month earlier, on 1 Sep 1963, and reported that Wyler was also stepping in as producer. “Rumors” of Doris Day’s casting were noted in the 23 Jul 1963 DV, but the same publication announced on 30 Aug 1963 that Julie Andrews was preparing to finalize her contract.
       Although development was underway, Wyler was skeptical about the project. He disliked the stage musical, and took little interest in the screenplay, Ernest Lehman told the 20 Nov 1966 NYT. When Wyler requested a leave of absence to work on Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.’s The Sandpiper (1965, see entry), Zanuck refused, and Wyler resigned. A conflicting account in the 11 Sep 1963 DV reported that Wyler was experiencing time conflicts with his work on The Americanization of Emily (1964, see entry), a project he eventually left. On 16 Oct 1963, the trades announced that Wyler would no longer remain with The Sound of Music due to his commitment to The Collector (1965, see entry), and, one week later, the 23 Oct 1963 DV explained that Twentieth Century-Fox was unable to accommodate Wyler’s request for a sixty-day delay in production because the studio was planning a Christmas 1964 release for The Sound of Music. Robert Wise, whose film adaptation of West Side Story, (written by Lehman), earned ten Academy Awards, was hired to replace Wyler in early Nov 1963, as evidenced in a 6 Nov 1963 DV news item. Both men were eventually nominated for Best Director Academy Awards in 1965, Wyler for The Collector and Wise for The Sound of Music. Associate producer Saul Chaplin and production designer Boris Leven also worked on West Side Story.
       Casting for The Sound of Music was ongoing in Jan 1964, and principal photography was set to begin on 26 Mar 1964 at the Twentieth Century-Fox studio lot in Century City, CA, as noted in a 6 Feb 1964 DV article. Filming was planned to continue on set until 15 Apr 1964, when the company would move to Austria to shoot exteriors from 12 Jun—20 Jul 1964. The budget was listed as $6--$7 million, but the final film cost $8.2 million, according to Zanuck in the 20 Nov 1966 NYT. He considered the project a risk, as Julie Andrews was relatively unknown at that time, and her theatrical film debut, Mary Poppins (1964, see entry), for which she won an Academy Award, was not yet released. Andrews was paid $225,000 for The Sound of Music, and neither she nor the other actors were granted a share of the profits.
       By Feb 1964, three songs from the musical had been eliminated, “An Ordinary Couple,” “No Way To Stop It,” and “How Could Love Survive?” Richard Rodgers was writing two new pieces to replace them, “I Have Confidence” and “Something Good.” DV production charts on 27 Mar 1964 confirmed that filming began on schedule, and the 16 Apr 1964 DV reported that actors were on their way to Salzburg, Austria. Julie Andrews later noted that the shoot was extremely challenging, particularly in Austria, where “it rained every day and did terrible things to our nerves,” as quoted in a 3 Mar 1965 NYT article. Zanuck told the 20 Nov 1966 NYT that poor weather conditions caused the production to go $1 million over budget. Locations included Nonnberg Abbey, Mozart Bridge, Mirabell Gardens, Frohnburg Palace, Leopoldskron Castle, Anif Palace, Residenz Square, St. Peter’s Cemetery, Lake Wolfgangsee, and the Felsenreitschule theater, where the climactic concert was staged. Outside the city of Salzburg, filming took place in Mondsee, Fuschl am See, St. Gilgen, and at Hohenwerfen Castle in Werfen, Austria.
       On 29 Jun 1964, DV announced that the production would be returning to Hollywood, CA, the following day, to resume interiors at Twentieth Century-Fox for another six weeks. Completion was planned for mid Aug 1964, and a 24 Aug 1964 DV brief confirmed that the film had recently been “canned.”
       Christopher Plummer, whose singing voice was doubled by Bill Lee, reportedly performed his own vocals during production, according to the 20 Nov 1966 NYT. Peggy Wood’s songs were later dubbed by Marni Nixon, who appeared in the film as “Sister Sophia.” The real Maria von Trapp was a background actor in one Salzburg scene, but was not credited onscreen.
       The film was first shown at a test screening in Minneapolis, MN, in which the audience gave a standing ovation at the intermission as well as at the end of the film, according to the NYT. The world premiere on 2 Mar 1965, at the Rivoli Theatre in New York City, was a fundraiser for The March of Dimes, as noted in the 3 Mar 1965 NYT. The screening was followed by a posthumous Humanitarian Award presentation to Oscar Hammerstein, who died five years earlier, not long after the Sound of Music musical opened on Broadway. The Sound of Music premiered in Beverly Hills, CA, on 10 Mar 1965 at Fox Wilshire Theatre and opened nationwide on 1 Apr 1965 at select theaters as a “roadshow release,” with reserved seating to accommodate its 70mm format and stereophonic sound system.
       In contrast to its vast popularity with audiences, the picture received mixed reviews, with critics complaining the narrative was “saccharine” and banal, as was the general critique of the musical. Among the detractors was most notably Pauline Kael, who lost her post at McCalls for calling the picture “a sugar-coated lie that people seem to want to eat” and taking issue with its perceived strategy of emotionally manipulating its audiences into “cheap and readymade responses.” (Kael’s editor at the time, Robert Stein, later wrote a 3 Sep 2000 NYT letter to the editor in response to an article on the subject, claiming that Kael was fired for consistently panning all commercial movies, not just The Sound of Music.) Still, the picture was a box-office sensation, initially surpassing Gone with the Wind (1940, see entry) as the highest grossing film in history. (Gone with the Wind would later regain its rank.) Twentieth Century-Fox, which suffered a $38.9 million loss in 1962, reported profits of $20.2 million for the fiscal year, ending in Jun 1966, according to the 20 Nov 1966 NYT. Well over one year after its release, The Sound of Music remained in theaters on a reserved seating basis, and the studio anticipated greater earnings in the near future, when the picture would be moved into wider release, and shown at additional local venues and drive-ins. NYT noted a common phenomenon in which viewers would return to see the film on multiple occasions, sometimes every day, as a form of “therapy.” A theater in Salt Lake City, UT, reported 509,516 ticket sales of in Oct 1966, (a year and a half after the film was released), even though the town had a population of 190,000 at that time. A number of other cities, including Syracuse, NY, Orlando, FL, and Cedar Rapids, IA, also earned “Outstanding Achievement Awards” from Twentieth Century-Fox for having theater attendance records that exceeded their populations. As of 2014, The Sound of Music was ranked the fifth highest-grossing film in history (with earnings adjusted for inflation), bringing in over $2.3 billion worldwide.
       The film was nominated for five Academy Awards in the following categories: Actress (Julie Andrews), Actress in a Supporting Role (Peggy Wood), Art Direction (Color), Cinematography, and Costume Design. It won five Academy Awards for: Directing, Film Editing, Music (Scoring of Music—adaption or treatment), Sound, and Best Picture.
       The Sound of Music ranked #55 on AFI’s “100 Years… 100 Movies” and moved up to #40 on the same list’s 10th Anniversary Edition. It was #41 on “100 Years… 100 Cheers” and #27 on “100 Years… 100 Passions.” Three songs were acknowledged on AFI’s “100 Years… 100 Songs”: “Do-Re-Mi” (#88), “My Favorite Things” (#64), and “The Sound Of Music” (#4). On AFI’s “100 Years of Musicals,” The Sound of Music was listed as the fourth best musical of all time.

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BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Apr 1965
pp. 222-25.
Daily Variety
13 Jun 1960.
---
Daily Variety
23 Mar 1962
p. 3.
Daily Variety
20 Jul 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
27 Jul 1962
p. 1.
Daily Variety
10 Dec 1962
p. 1, 4.
Daily Variety
4 Mar 1963
p. 1, 4.
Daily Variety
5 Mar 1962
p. 14.
Daily Variety
23 Jul 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
30 Aug 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
11 Sep 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
16 Oct 1963
p. 1, 10.
Daily Variety
23 Oct 1963
p. 3.
Daily Variety
6 Nov 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
6 Feb 1964
p. 3.
Daily Variety
27 Mar 1964
p. 10.
Daily Variety
16 Apr 1964
p. 2.
Daily Variety
29 Jun 1964
p. 2.
Daily Variety
24 Aug 1964
p. 4.
Daily Variety
2 Nov 1964
p. 2.
Film Daily
2 Mar 1965.
---
Filmfacts
16 Apr 1965
pp. 51-54.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Mar 1964
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Aug 1964
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Mar 1965
p. 3.
Life
12 Mar 1965
p. 52.
Los Angeles Times
15 Nov 1959
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
7 Mar 1965
Calendar, p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
14 Mar 1973
Section IV, p. 1, 15.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
17 Mar 1965
p. 14, 18.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
14 Apr 1965
p. 268.
New York Times
3 Mar 1965
p. 34.
New York Times
20 Nov 1966.
---
New York Times
3 Sep 2000.
---
Time
5 Mar 1965
p. 98.
Variety
5 Aug 1959
p. 76.
Variety
22 Jun 1960
p. 3, 11.
Variety
6 Jul 1960
p. 63.
Variety
3 Mar 1965
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Robert Wise Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
With the partial use of ideas by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Addl photog
Cam op
Gaffer
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost
MUSIC
Mus supv, arr & cond
Vocal supv
Mus ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
Spec photog eff
DANCE
Choreog
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
2nd unit supv
Unit prod mgr
Scr supv
Puppeteers
Puppeteers
Dial coach
STAND INS
Singing voice for Christopher Plummer
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the musical The Sound of Music , music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, and originally produced on the stage by Leland Hayward, Richard Halliday, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II (New York, 16 Nov 1959).
SONGS
"Preludium (Dixit Dominus)," "Morning Hymn," "Alleluia," "Maria," "I Have Confidence," "Sixteen Going on Seventeen," "My Favorite Things," "Climb Every Mountain," "The Lonely Goatherd," "The Sound of Music," "Do-Re-Mi," "Something Good," "Edelweiss" and "So Long, Farewell," music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music
Release Date:
1 April 1965
Premiere Information:
Beverly Hills premiere: 10 March 1965
New York premiere: 2 March 1965
Roadshow opening: 1 April 1965
Copyright Claimant:
Argyle Enterprises, Inc.
Copyright Date:
2 March 1965
Copyright Number:
LP30289
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Color
De Luxe
gauge
35mm & 70mm
Widescreen/ratio
Todd-AO
Duration(in mins):
175
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

The antics of tomboyish Maria, a novice at the abbey in Salzburg, concern the Mother Abbess, who is unsure of Maria's intensions. Encouraging the girl to test her feelings, the Mother Abbess sends Maria to be the governess for the seven children of the widower Baron Georg 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 his love interest, Baroness Elsa Schraeder. While he is gone, Maria allows the children greater freedom, and teaches them to sing. The youths become so excited when the baron returns that they fall out of a rowboat in the lake. The accident 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 Detweiler 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 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. However, the baroness soon realizes her suitor is in love with Maria, and releases him. Maria weds the baron, and while they are away on their honeymoon, the Nazis take over Austria. Taking advantage of the baron's absence, Max enters ... +


The antics of tomboyish Maria, a novice at the abbey in Salzburg, concern the Mother Abbess, who is unsure of Maria's intensions. Encouraging the girl to test her feelings, the Mother Abbess sends Maria to be the governess for the seven children of the widower Baron Georg 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 his love interest, Baroness Elsa Schraeder. While he is gone, Maria allows the children greater freedom, and teaches them to sing. The youths become so excited when the baron returns that they fall out of a rowboat in the lake. The accident 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 Detweiler 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 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. However, the baroness soon realizes her suitor is in love with Maria, and releases him. Maria weds the baron, and while they are away on their honeymoon, the Nazis take over Austria. Taking advantage of the baron's absence, Max enters the children in the Salzburg Festival. When the baron returns with his new bride, Maria, he forbids the children to appear at the festival, and 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 Stormtroopers. Max convinces the Nazis that the family is on its way to the Salzburg Festival, and that he plans to leave for his ship immediately after the performance. The Trapps win first place at the show and, using their exit song to escape, take refuge in the town abbey. The Nazis learn their whereabouts and surround the building, but the family escapes through a secret tunnel to the nearby mountains. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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