The Sound of Music – Film (1965)

The Sound Of Music
The Sound of Music (film)


Directed by Robert Wise

Produced by Robert Wise

Written by Howard Lindsay (libretto) Russel Crouse (libretto)

Screenplay by Ernest Lehman


In 1938, 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, uses a whistle to summon his children, issues orders, and dresses his children in sailor-suit uniforms. Although initially hostile toward her, the children eventually warm to her 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 on 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 being sabotaged by the nuns. The von Trapp family hike over the Alps into Switzerland and to freedom.


Julie Andrews as Maria von Trapp, a free-spirited young Austrian woman, studying to become a nun. Due to her often singing and running seeming somewhat out of place in the abbey, Mother Abbess sends her to the nearby city of Salzburg to be governess to the seven children of Captain von Trapp. She later marries Captain von Trapp, after realizing her feelings towards him. She was the frontrunner to win the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role of 1965, but lost to Julie Christie (for Darling); Andrews did, however, win the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture Actress – Musical or Comedy of 1965.

Christopher Plummer as Captain Georg von Trapp, a veteran Austrian navy captain whose wife died, leaving behind their seven children. He applies his military background in raising them according to strict naval discipline, but his attitude to the children and Maria softens considerably after she reintroduces music in the family. Plummer’s singing voice was dubbed by Bill Lee.


Richard Haydn as Max Detweiler, a good friend of both the Baroness and the Captain, and an impresario. In searching Salzburg for talented singers, he finds what he wants in the von Trapp family, and constantly tries to convince the Captain to let him enter the children in the Salzburg Music Festival.

Eleanor Parker as Baroness Elsa von Schraeder, the Captain’s lady friend from Vienna, and later fiancée for a short period. She becomes jealous of Maria, and convinces her to leave during a grand party at the house by exploiting her inner conflict about becoming a nun and her discomfort at the Captain’s obvious affection towards her. However, she later regrets her actions, and decides to return to Vienna, convincing the Captain to share his true feelings for Maria.

Charmian Carr as Liesl von Trapp, the first and eldest child, sixteen “going on seventeen”. She believes she doesn’t need a governess at first, but soon comes to trust Maria. She is in love with a messenger named Rolfe, who delivers their telegrams, but he later betrays her and her family.

Nicholas Hammond as Friedrich von Trapp, the second child and eldest son, fourteen. He is very quiet and is also something of a gentleman, despite his involvement in the tricks against the previous governesses, which the children confess were merely to get the Captain’s attention. After Maria arrives, he tells her that he “is impossible” according to “Fraulein Josephine: four governesses ago”.

Heather Menzies as Louisa von Trapp, the third child, thirteen. She and Brigitta are often together, and she is a bit of a daydreamer. Her two favorite tricks on governesses are to fill their beds with spiders and pretend that she is one of the other girls, such as Brigitta- she tries this ruse on Maria, but fails.

Duane Chase as Kurt von Trapp, the fourth child and youngest boy, eleven. He often tries to act manly and is outspoken against the previous governesses and often questions Maria about things, once trying to learn an Austrian folk dance, and what incorrigible meant.

Angela Cartwright as Brigitta von Trapp, the fifth child, ten. She is sharp-witted, honest, somewhat nonconformist, and not afraid to speak her mind about things (remarking that Maria’s dress is ugly, although Kurt says Fraulein Hilda’s was ugliest). Brigitta is depicted reading a book when she first appears. Maria later remarks that Brigitta notices everything.

Debbie Turner as Marta von Trapp, the sixth child- she is six when Maria meets her, but announces that her seventh birthday is approaching. She gets along well with Maria. She is the first child to show Maria kindness. She shares Maria’s love of the color pink, and hopes to get a pink parasol for her birthday.

Kym Karath as Gretl von Trapp, the seventh and youngest child, five. She initially comes across as shy—her father has to give Maria her name—but she’s soon warm towards Maria. She is the second child to show Maria kindness, saying that she likes her.

Peggy Wood as Mother Abbess, the head of Nonnberg Abbey, who convinces Maria to leave there and explore life as a governess for a while. When she returns, she has Maria explain why she left and realizes she is in love, and convinces her to return and face her problems, to see what might come of this love. Peggy Wood was nominated for both the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress—Motion Picture of 1965. for her performance. Her singing voice was dubbed by Margery McKay.

Anna Lee as Sister Margaretta, a nun who looks fondly on Maria. She, as well as Sister Berthe, helps her to 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 nevertheless helps her escape by sabotaging the cars of the Gauleiter and his soldiers.

Marni Nixon as Sister Sophia. She first appears expressing her opinion of Maria to her fellow nuns. She was cast in the role by director Robert Wise.

Daniel Truhitte as Rolfe, a messenger who is in love with Liesl. The two become estranged after his enthusiasm for the Nazi cause leads him to forsake Liesl, partly as he realises that her father does not support Adolf Hitler and thus has no regard for him.

Ben Wright as Herr Zeller, Gauleiter, an enthusiast for the Third Reich. He takes a contrary tone with the patriotic Captain as early as the party held for the Baroness. After the Anschluss he is appointed Gauleiter of the region.

The famous marionette puppet sequence for the song “The Lonely Goatherd” was produced and performed by the leading puppeteers of the day, Bil Baird and Cora Eisenberg-Baird.



Darryl and Richard D. Zanuck originally asked Robert Wise to do the film, but he turned it down because it was “too saccharine”. They then approached Stanley Donen, Vincent Donehue, Gene Kelly, and George Roy Hill, but they all turned it down. Zanuck next asked William Wyler to direct the film. Because he was suffering from a loss of hearing that affected his ability to appreciate music fully, Wyler felt he was the wrong man for the job, but he agreed to fly to New York and see the Broadway production. Feeling many of the songs did not evolve organically from the plot, he remained undecided and wrote to the producer of Die Trapp-Familie, a 1956 non-musical film about the von Trapps starring the German screen star Ruth Leuwerik, to ask his advice. “This cannot fail,” he responded, and Wyler accepted the assignment.

Wyler had seen the original Broadway production of My Fair Lady and had been impressed by Julie Andrews, who was in the process of filming Mary Poppins. He met with her on the set and asked Walt Disney if he could see some of the dailies. Convinced she was perfect for the role of Maria, he signed her to a contract.

Wyler returned to New York and met with Maria von Trapp, then he and screenwriter Ernest Lehman and their wives flew to Austria to begin scouting locations in the Tyrolean Alps. There they visited the convent where von Trapp had been a novice, and Wyler discussed the possibility of filming scenes there with the Mother Superior. He then met with the mayor of Salzburg. Wyler was concerned that the presence of a film crew shooting German troops parading before buildings draped with the Nazi flag would be a harsh reminder of the Anschluss for those who had experienced it. The mayor assured him the residents had managed to live through it the first time and would survive it again.

Wyler returned to Hollywood and began pre-production work on the film, but his wife realized his heart clearly was not in it. Then he was approached by Jud Kinberg and John Kohn, neophyte film producers who had purchased the rights to the John Fowles novel The Collector prior to its publication. They had a commitment from Terence Stamp to star in the film and a first draft screenplay by Stanley Mann. Wyler was impressed with the script and, feeling an affinity with the project he did not with The Sound of Music, he asked the Zanucks to release him from his contract. They agreed, and Robert Wise, who became available due to delays in production of The Sand Pebbles, was hired to replace Wyler.

Historical accuracy

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:

1.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 Saltzburg) 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 Saltzburg villa shortly after the death of his first wife in 1922.

2.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.

3.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.

4.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.

5.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.

6.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.

7.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.

8.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.

9.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.

10.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.

11.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.

12.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.

13.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.

14.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 Zara, 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.”

15.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 though that it would be confusing to have two characters called Maria in the film.

16.The film was largely filmed in the city and county of Salzburg and Upper Austria, including sites such as Nonnberg Abbey, and St. Peter Cemetery. Leopoldskron Palace, Frohnburg Palace, and Hellbrunn Palace were some of the locations used for the Trapp estate in the film.

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.”.

The opening scene and aerial shots were filmed in Anif (Anif Palace), Mondsee, and Salzkammergut (Fuschl am See, St. Gilgen and Saint Wolfgang).


Hohenwerfen Castle served as the main backdrop for the song “Do-Re-Mi”. At the Mirabell Gardens in Salzburg, Maria and the children sing “Do-Re-Mi”, dancing around the horse fountain and using the steps as a musical scale.



Main article: The Sound of Music (soundtrack)

All songs have music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II unless otherwise noted. Instrumental underscore passages were adapted by Irwin Kostal.

1.”Prelude and The Sound of Music”

2.”Overture” (Main Titles, consisting of “The Sound of Music”, “Do-Re-Mi”, “My Favorite Things”, “Something Good” and “Climb Ev’ry Mountain”) segué into the Preludium

3.”Preludium: Dixit Dominus”, “Morning Hymn” (Rex admirabilis and Alleluia, based on traditional songs)


5.”I Have Confidence” (@ 18:04) (lyrics and music by Richard Rodgers)

6.”Sixteen Going on Seventeen” (@ 37:22)

7.”My Favorite Things” (@ 47:42)

8.”Salzburg Montage” (instrumental underscore based on “My Favorite Things”)

9.”Do-Re-Mi” (@ 54:55)

10.”The Sound of Music” (reprise)

11.”The Lonely Goatherd” (@ 1:15:38)

12.”Edelweiss” (@ 1:21:36)

13.”The Grand Waltz” (instrumental underscore, based on “My Favorite Things”)

14.”Ländler” (instrumental based on “The Lonely Goatherd”)

15.”So Long, Farewell” (@ 1:29:43)

16.”Processional Waltz” (instrumental underscore)

17.”Goodbye Maria/How Can Love Survive Waltz” (instrumental underscore, incorporating “Edelweiss” and the deleted song “How Can Love Survive?”)

18.”Edelweiss Waltz” (instrumental, Act 1 Finale, based on “Edelweiss”)

19.”Entr’acte” (instrumental, consisting of “I Have Confidence”, “So Long, Farewell”, “Do-Re-Mi”, “Something Good” and “The Sound of Music”)

20.”The Sound of Music” (Sad Reprise Incomplete)

21.”Climb Ev’ry Mountain”

22.”My Favorite Things” (reprise)

23.”Something Good” (lyrics and music by Rodgers)

24.”Processional” (instrumental) and “Maria” (Buddy Cole at the Organ)

25.”Sixteen Going On Seventeen” (reprise)

26.”Do-Re-Mi” (Salzburg Folk Festival reprise)

27.”Edelweiss” (Salzburg Folk Festival reprise)

28.”So Long, Farewell” (Salzburg Folk Festival reprise)

29.”Climb Ev’ry Mountain” (reprise)

30.”End Titles”

“Edelweiss”, thought by some to be a traditional Austrian song or even the Austrian national anthem[citation needed], was written expressly for the musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein. Originally unknown in Austria, it has been promoted heavily there ever since, especially in Salzburg.

The songs “How Can Love Survive?”, “An Ordinary Couple”, and “No Way to Stop It” were not used in the film version. The omission of those songs had to be approved through Richard Rodgers.

There were four extra children singing with the ones onscreen to add more effect to their voices, including Darleen Carr, Charmian Carr’s younger sister. However, these were uncredited. Darleen Carr sang Kurt’s high voice, during the reprise and “sad” versions of the title song, as well as the high “Bye” in the song “So Long, Farewell”, and later for Gretl in its reprise towards the end of the film.

The Sound of Music (1965) Trivia

Director Robert Wise considered Yul Brynner for the role of Captain Von Trapp.

Originally to be directed by William Wyler, who actually scouted locations and toyed with the script. He had a different film in mind; tanks crashing through walls, etc.

The first musical number in the film, The Sound of Music, was the final sequence shot in Europe before the cast and crew returned to Los Angeles. It was filmed in late June and early July of 1964. Despite the warm and sunny appearance, Julie Andrews notes that she was freezing running up that mountain over and over again. Director Robert Wise has said that he had to climb one of the trees nearby to be able to overview the helicopter shoot without getting in the picture.

During the filming of the opening shot of Julie Andrews taken from a helicopter, Julie Andrews relates that although she tried digging her heels into the ground and bracing herself, on every take she was knocked over by the powerful helicopter downdraft. After more than a dozen takes, she attempted to hand-signal to Robert Wise to have the helicopter make a wider pass, but the response she got was a thumbs-up – he was finally satisfied with the shot.

“Sixteen Going On Seventeen” was shot in the gazebo, one of the last to be done. On the first take, Charmian Carr (Liesl) slipped while leaping across a bench, and fell through a pane of glass. Although she was not badly injured, her ankle was hurt and the scene was later shot with her leg wrapped and makeup covering the bandages.

The front and back of the Von Trapp estate were filmed at 2 different locations in Salzburg, Austria.

The gazebo used for the “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” and “Something Good” scenes can still be visited in the Salzburg area, on “Sound of Music” tours. However, the public had to be excluded from the interior because film fans who were considerably older than “sixteen going on seventeen” were injuring themselves while trying to dance along the seats. The gazebo in Austria was only used for exterior shots. The actual dance by Charmian Carr and Daniel Truhitte was, in fact, filmed on a replica of the gazebo’s interior on a sound stage at 20th Century-Fox in Los Angeles, as were the shots of Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.

In the closing shot, when the family is climbing over the hills to safety, it is not really Kym Karath as Gretl on the shoulders of Captain von Trapp. In the DVD version, it is revealed that while in Austria, Kym Karath gained a lot of weight. This was one of the last shots filmed and so she was evidently a bit too heavy to be carried on Christopher Plummer’s back. Plummer requested a stunt double and that is who’s seen being carried on his back.

Debbie Turner (Marta) had many loose teeth during filming. When they fell out, they were replaced with false teeth.

Mary Martin was the wife of Richard Halliday, producer of the original Broadway show. Martin, who originated the role of Maria on Broadway, would eventually see nearly $8,000,000 from the film. In contrast, Julie Andrews earned just $225,000 for her performance.

Two years before the musical made its Broadway debut, Paramount bought the rights to the Von Trapp Singers story, intending to cast Audrey Hepburn as Maria. When Hepburn declined, Paramount dropped plans for a film.

The librettists, Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, originally intended to use songs that the real von Trapp family had sung. However, Mary Martin, who was to be in the play, asked Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II to write a song for her character. Due to concerns that their original song would not mix well with the folk music, Rodgers and Hammerstein suggested writing a whole new score, the music we know today.

During the scene with Maria and the Captain at the gazebo, Julie Andrews couldn’t stop laughing due to a lighting device that was making, in her words, a “raspberry” every time she leaned in to kiss Plummer. After more than 20 takes, the scene was altered to silhouette the two and to hide Andrews’ giggles.

Six burly Austrians were hired to pull the heavy car by two ropes while the actors push from behind when the von Trapps are escaping their home in Salzburg.

Sean Connery and Richard Burton were considered for the part of Captain von Trapp.

Among kids who auditioned to play one of the Von Trapp children were Kurt Russell, Richard Dreyfuss, Veronica Cartwright, and the four eldest Osmond Brothers (Alan Osmond, Jay Osmond, Merrill Osmond, and Wayne Osmond). Dreyfuss couldn’t dance.

Nicholas Hammond (Friedrich) has brown hair, and had to undergo several painful hair bleachings before and during filming to make his hair blond.

Right after her talk with Maria, the Baroness is at the party talking to Max. The song the orchestra is playing is a song from the play version that was not used in the movie called “How Can Love Survive”. This song was sung by the Baroness and Max. However, the tempo and rhythm of the song were altered quite dramatically, when played as a piece of orchestral music at the party in the film, hence the melody isn’t immediately recognisable. The melody was stripped of the dramatic intensity and urgency that characterised it in the stage version, and was made to sound like a schmaltzy waltz.

Kym Karath (Gretl) couldn’t swim, so the original idea was to get Julie Andrews to catch her when the boat tips up and they all fall in the water. However, during the second take the boat toppled over so that Andrews fell to one side and Karath fell to the other. Heather Menzies-Urich (Louisa) had to save her instead. Andrews stated later she felt guilty about this for years.

Kym Karath (Gretl) swallowed too much water upon falling out of the rowboat, and threw up on Heather Menzies-Urich (Louisa).

Twentieth Century-Fox bought the film rights to the musical in 1960, along with the rights to two German films about the family. The project was jeopardized by the poor box-office showing of a compilation of the German films, as well as Fox’s financial difficulties resulting from Cleopatra.

The von Trapp street address is ’53’. When Maria first comes to the villa and is looking through the gate, the address sign is on the stone pillar to the left.

Maria never uses the Captain’s first name, “Georg”, in the film. Instead, she calls him Captain, Sir, and Darling.

Along with The Bible: In the Beginning…, this is one of the few Twentieth Century-Fox films in which no music at all is heard when the Twentieth Century-Fox logo appears on screen.

According to director Robert Wise the grass on the hill of the opening song was supposed to be much longer than it was. The filmmakers had made an arrangement with the farmer who owned the land to leave the grass long, but when they arrived for filming it had been cut. Wise commented that the scene turned out very well after all.

Doris Day was apparently offered the role of Maria von Trapp, but turned it down.

Julie Andrews nearly turned down the role of Maria Von Trapp, fearing the character was too similar to her role in Mary Poppins.

William Wyler wanted Audrey Hepburn to play Maria von Trapp.

When Maria is running through the courtyard to the Von Trapp house in “I Have Confidence”, she trips. This was an accident; however, director Robert Wise liked this so much that he kept it in the movie. He felt it added to the nervousness of the song and of the character.


The actors had to be continually hosed down while filming the scene after they had fallen out of the boat, in order to remain dripping wet.

When the film was released in South Korea, it did so much business that some theaters were showing it four and five times a day. One theater owner in Seoul tried to figure out a way to be able to show it even more often, in order to bring in more customers. So he cut out all the musical numbers.

The songs “I Have Confidence” and “Something Good” were written especially for the film, by Richard Rodgers, the latter song replacing “An Ordinary Couple” from the stage version. The two numbers became so popular and so integrated into the musical, that most subsequent stage productions, including the 1998 Broadway revival, have felt the need to add them on (and delete “An Ordinary Couple” in the process).

The singing of Peggy Wood (Mother Abbess) was dubbed, as she herself declared that she was too old to handle the vocals.

Although Christopher Plummer’s own vocals were in fact recorded, it was subsequently decided that he should be dubbed.

Duane Chase’s (Kurt) high note in the “So Long, Farewell” number was actually sung by Darleen Carr (younger sister of Charmian Carr), as that note was beyond Chase’s range.


Charmian Carr sang “16 Going On Seventeen” for the movie when she was nearly 22. Moreover, although Liesl and Rolf sing about how she is 16 and he is 17, ‘Daniel Truhitte’, who played Rolf, is ten months younger than ‘Charmian Carr’.

Titles of the film in foreign countries translate to English as Smiles and Tears (Spain), The Melody of Happiness (France), “The Rebellious Novice” (Argentina and Brazil). In Croatia the movie is known under the same title as in Austria and Germany- “My Song – My Dream” (“Moje pjesme, moji snovi”).

The costume that Duane Chase (Kurt) wears at the party is called a Tracht, an authentic Austrian costume. The jacket he wears is called a Loden.

Christopher Plummer intensely disliked working on the film. He’s been known to refer to it as “The Sound of Mucus” or “S&M” and likened working with Julie Andrews to “being hit over the head with a big Valentine’s Day card, every day.” Nontheless, he and Andrews have remained close friends ever since.

Christopher Plummer opted out of the Harry Palmer role in Ipcress… Streng geheim in favor of the Captain Von Trapp part, a decision he later regretted.

Julie Andrews was always Robert Wise’s first choice to play Maria even though no one had really seen how she worked onscreen. Mary Poppins hadn’t been released at that stage.

Christopher Plummer wasn’t overly impressed with the film; he has called it “The Sound of Mucus” and says that the song “Edelweiss” was “schmaltzy”.


The Sound of Music (1965) was an exceptionally successful film in the mid-1960s – at the time of its release, it surpassed Gone With the Wind (1939) as the number one box office hit of all time. It was the high-point of the Hollywood musical. [In 1978, the film’s status as the most successful musical was finally surpassed by Grease (1978). However, it was earlier ousted by the box-office epic The Godfather (1972).

This wholesome production from producer/director Robert Wise (of the previously popular West Side Story (1961) for which he won the same two Oscars) and 20th Century Fox has become one of the most favorite, beloved films of moviegoers. It is a joyous, uplifting, three-hour adaptation of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s 1959 hit Broadway stage musical (that starred Mary Martin). [This was the well-known partnership’s last collaboration]. The story follows a good-natured, flighty novitiate (Andrews) who is hired to care for the seven children of a militaristic, icy, widowed Austrian captain (Plummer). She ultimately wins the heart of the children – and the captain, but their lives are threatened by the encroachment of Nazis.

Marketing slogans cried: “The Happiest Sound in All the World.” Ernest Lehman’s screenplay was based on the book by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse. That book was in turn based on Baroness Maria von Trapp’s 1949 autobiography (The von Trapp Family Singers) about the exploits of the family of singers and their escape from the Nazis in Austria in 1938. The first film version was a German film titled Die Trapp-Familie (1956), with a sequel Die Trapp-Familie in Amerika (1958). After the 1965 film’s enormous success, Fox Studios unwisely invested millions in three more, less profitable, blockbuster musicals in the late 60s – Dr. Doolittle (1967), Star! (1968), and Hello, Dolly! (1969).

The star of the film was the previous year’s Best Actress Academy Award winner, a fresh-faced Julie Andrews in a similar role as her governess performance in Mary Poppins (1964). She is accompanied by her lovely singing voice, glorious, on-location travelogue views of Salzburg, Austria filmed in 70 mm, and melodic, memorable sing-along tunes, including “Maria,” “The Sound of Music,” “My Favorite Things,” “You Are Sixteen, Going On Seventeen,” “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” “Do-Re-Mi,” and “Edelweiss.”

In fact, there was an interactive, audience-participation version imported from London in 2000 – a limited theatrical re-release of The Sound of Music with subtitled musical numbers to allow for sing-a-long participation. Audiences were also invited to dress up in The Sound of Music-inspired costumes, and to react with props (such as an artificial sprig of edelweiss) provided in a Fun Pak. [“Sing-A-Long Sound of Music” first emerged at the 1988 London Gay and Lesbian Film festival after an event organizer heard that staff at a retirement home in the Scottish town of Inverness had distributed song sheets during a video showing of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954) for sing-along participation. The film was screened at the festival as a sing-along and proved wildly successful.]

The sentimental, entertaining musical was nominated for ten Academy Awards, and came away with five major wins: Best Picture and Best Director (Robert Wise), Best Sound, Best Score (Irwin Kostal), and Best Film Editing (William Reynolds). Its other five nominations were for Best Actress (Julie Andrews who lost to Julie Christie in Darling), Best Supporting Actress (Peggy Wood), Best Color Cinematography (Ted McCord), Best Color Art Direction/Set Decoration, and Best Color Costume Design.

The Story


The opening sequence of The Sound of Music is a much-heralded, breath-taking piece of film-making. With a sweeping aerial view, the film opens with a left-to-right camera pan through the clouds and across rocky, snow-covered mountains. The camera dips into a green, wooded valley with steep cliffs that descend into a snow-fed lake. Reflections of the hills are viewed in the mirror-like images on the water’s surface. As the camera moves over the European landscape and village, it discovers an open, green area nestled between the peaks. It moves closer and zooms into the green field, where it suddenly finds a happy and joyous Maria (Julie Andrews), a novice Salzburg Austrian nun, walking across the wide expanse of land. With open-armed appreciation of the beauty of the surrounding majestic peaks and vistas of the Austrian Alps, she twirls and sings the title song. For her: “The Hills Are Alive With the Sound of Music.”

The hills are alive with the sound of music

 With songs they have sung for a thousand years.

 The hills fill my heart with the sound of music

 My heart wants to sing every song it hears.

 My heart wants to beat like the wings

 Of the birds that rise from the lake to the trees,

 My heart wants to sigh like a chime that flies from a church on a breeze,

 To laugh like a brook when it trips and falls

 Over stones on its way

 To sing through the night like a lark who is learning to pray.

 I go to the hills when my heart is lonely,

 I know I will hear what I’ve heard before.

 My heart will be blessed with the sound of music

 And I’ll sing once more.

Because of her adventuresome, flighty and stubborn nature, she spends so much time singing and dancing on the mountainside that she has neglected most of her postulant duties at the Abbey. She hears distant church bells pealing, reminding her that she is late and must immediately return to the nunnery. The setting is Austria in the late 1930’s just before the annexation of Austria with Nazi Germany:

Salzburg, Austria, in the last Golden Days of the Thirties.

In Maria’s nunnery, the nuns walk to chapel, chanting “Dixit Dominus.” Prayers have been said in the chapel, but Maria is nowhere to be found, according to Sister Bernice (Evadne Baker): “I have looked everywhere, in all the usual places.” Sister Margaretta (Anna Lee) defends Maria: “After all, the wool of a black sheep is just as warm.” Sister Berthe (Portia Nelson), the Mistress of Novices, is uncertain of the future of the independent-minded, spirited nun-in training: “We are not talking about sheep, black or white, Sister Margaretta. Of all the candidates for the novitiate, I would say Maria is the least likely.”

From the viewpoint of Sister Sophia (Marni Nixon in her first appearance on the screen, although she was the ghost singing voice for Natalie Wood in West Side Story (1961) and for Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady (1964)), “…she always seems to be in trouble, doesn’t she?” The nuns gossip about the young novitiate’s unusual behavior with the song “Maria”:

• she climbs trees and her dress has a tear

•she waltzes on her way to Mass

•she has curlers in her hair, and even sings in the Abbey

•Maria is always late for chapel: “She’s always late for everything except for every meal.”

•their overall assessment of Maria: “Maria’s not an asset to the Abbey.”

The Reverend Mother (Peggy Wood) wonders about how to cure the deficiencies of the troublesome, flighty, outspoken, and unpredictable trainee:

How do you solve a problem like Maria? How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?…Many a thing you know you’d like to tell her, many a thing she ought to understand…How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?

In the Reverend Mother’s chambers, the tardy Maria apologizes profusely for being distracted by the majestic scenery, and she begs for forgiveness: “I just couldn’t help myself. The gates were open and the hills were beckoning…I can’t seem to stop singing wherever I am.” In the hopes that Maria’s vocational goals are better suited elsewhere, the Mother Superior suggests that she leave the nunnery before she decides whether to become a monastic, cloistered nun: “It seems to be the will of God that you leave us…only for a while, Maria…Perhaps if you go out into the world for a time, knowing what we expect of you, you will have a chance to find out if you can expect it of yourself.”

It is arranged for Maria to take a job as a governess/nanny for a family near Salzburg “until September…to take care of seven children” – of the widowed Captain von Trapp (Christopher Plummer, although Yul Brynner was originally considered for the role),

a retired officer of the Imperial Navy, a fine man and a brave one. His wife died several years ago, leaving him alone with the children. Now I understand he’s had a most difficult time managing to keep a governess there.

Scared, doubtful and worried as she departs from the familiar surroundings of the Abbey, Maria walks away with her duffel bag and guitar case toward her bus transport into the countryside. She bolsters her confidence with “I Have Confidence in Me.” She peers through the gate as she arrives at the magnificent von Trapp villa, gasping: “Oh, help!” After butler Franz (Gil Stuart) greets her at the front door, she walks into the ballroom and begins to dance by herself. The Captain enters by slamming open both doors, startling her and causing her to run from the room. She is sternly reprimanded by the strait-laced widower:

In the future, you’ll kindly remember there are certain rooms in this house which are not to be disturbed.


Maria is warned by the harsh disciplinarian that she is “twelfth in a long line of governesses” who have attempted to look after the mother-less von Trapp children: “..the last one – she stayed only two hours.” After a daunted Maria inquires: “What’s wrong with the children, sir?,” she is cautioned that the problems were with the previous nannies: “They were completely unable to maintain discipline. Without it, this house cannot be properly run. Will you please remember that, Fraulein?” Since his wife died, naval hero Trapp has strictly helmed his house like a militaristic, humorless naval ship – there is no time for play and his regimented children function like a troop of automaton-sailors:

Every morning, you will drill the children in their studies. I will not permit them to dream away their summer holidays. Each afternoon, they will march about the grounds breathing deeply. Bedtime is to be strictly observed – no exceptions…You will see to it that they conduct themselves at all time with the utmost orderliness and decorum. I am placing you in command.

The Captain summons the children to come down with his boatswain’s whistle. Each wearing a drab, modified sailor’s uniform, they line up on the upper floor’s balcony (from the eldest to youngest) and march down the stairs in unison. They are identified by an individualized whistle sound – as each signal is played, they step forward and announce their names to Maria:

•16 year-old Liesl (Charmain Carr, twenty-two years old during filming)

•14 year-old Friedrich (Nicholas Hammond)

•13 year-old Louisa (Heather Menzies)

•11 year-old Kurt (Duane Chase)

•10 year-old Brigitta (Angela Cartwright)

•almost 7 year-old Marta (Debbie Turner)

•5 year-old Gretl (Kym Karath)

Maria is instructed: “You, Fraulein, will listen carefully. Learn their signals so that you can call them when you want them.” The novice governess defiantly confronts the Captain regarding his summoning technique:

I could never answer to a whistle. Whistles are for dogs and cats and other animals, but not for children, and definitely not for me. It would be too humiliating.

The seven mischievous, incorrigible children test her and play a prank upon her, as they have done previously to run off other governesses. When she’s not looking, they place a frog in her pocket. At the dinner table that evening in the formal dining room, Maria is again victimized by another of the childrens’ antics – she sits on a rough-edged pine cone placed on her chair. She makes the children feel guilty for their practical jokes: “Knowing how nervous I must have been – a stranger in a new household, knowing how important it was for me to feel accepted, it was so kind and thoughtful of you to make my first moments here so warm and happy and pleasant.”

Young, teenaged Rolf (Daniel Truhitte) delivers a telegram through Franz to the Captain, summoning him in the morning to Vienna to again visit Baroness Elsa Schraeder (Eleanor Parker) and Max Detweiler (Richard Hadyn), whom the children regard as their ‘uncle.’ Liesl sneaks outdoors to meet shy, 17 year-old boyfriend Rolf, who is waiting for her in the garden near the pavilion. Together in the bluish light of the evening, they sing of their innocent young, adolescent love on the brink of adulthood: “Sixteen Going on Seventeen.” Thunder, lightning and rain forces them into the shelter of the gazebo where they continue singing and dancing in a magical sequence:

(Rolf): You are sixteen, going on seventeen, baby it’s time to think.

 Better beware, be canny and careful, baby you’re on the brink.

You are sixteen, going on seventeen, fellows will fall in line…

 Totally unprepared are you, to face a world of men.

 Timid and shy and scared are you, of things beyond your kin.

 You need someone older and wiser, telling you what to do.

 I am seventeen, going on eighteen. I’ll take care of you…

(Liesl): I am sixteen, going on seventeen. I know that I’m naive.

 Fellows I meet may tell me I’m sweet, and willingly I believe.

 I am sixteen, going on seventeen, innocent as a rose…

 Totally unprepared am I, to face a world of men.

 Timid and shy and scared am I, of things beyond my kin.

 I need someone older and wiser telling me what to do.

 You are seventeen, going on eighteen. I’ll depend on you.

At the conclusion of their duet, they finally kiss just once. In reaction, Rolf races rapturously from the gazebo, while Liesl exclaims triumphantly with her arms outstretched: “Whee!”

Frau Schmidt (Norma Varden) delivers bolts of fabric material to Maria that the Captain had ordered from town to make new dresses for her. When she asks for more material to make playclothes for her charges, Frau Schmidt curtly lectures:

The von Trapp children don’t play. They march.

According to her, since the Captain’s wife died, he is aloof and cold and “runs this house as if he were on one of his ships again – whistles, orders, no more music, no more laughing. Nothing that reminds him of her, even the children.” However, the last time he visited the Baroness, he remained in Vienna for a month and “the Captain is thinking very seriously of marrying the woman before the summer’s over.”

Maria prays by her bedside, blessing the Captain and the children:

Dear Father, now I know why you’ve sent me here. To help these children prepare themselves for a new mother. And I pray that this will become a happy family in thy sight. God bless the captain. God bless Liesl and Friedrich. God bless Louisa, Brigitta, Marta, and little Gretl. And, oh, I forgot the other boy. What’s his name? Well, God bless what’s-his-name. God bless the Reverend Mother and Sister Margaretta and everybody at Nonnberg Abbey. And now, dear God, about Liesl, help her know that I’m her friend. And help her to tell me what she’s been up to…Shh, help me to be understanding so that I may guide her footsteps. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, Amen.

A rain-drenched, love-sick Liesl enters through her window from her dis-allowed rendezvous with Rolf. Three or four noisy peals of lightning and thunder bring in the other children in their pajamas – fearful of the storm. To allay their concerns, she advises them to think of “nice things…daffodils, green meadows, skies full of stars, raindrops on roses, and whiskers on kittens” when they are unhappy. She breaks into song, “My Favorite Things”:

…bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens

 Brown paper packages tied up with strings,

 These are a few of my favorite things.

 Cream-colored ponies and crisp apple strudels

 Doorbells and sleighbells and schnitzel with noodles

 Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings

 These are a few of my favorite things… When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I’m feeling sad

 I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad.

She wins them over to her side with singing and with her warm-heartedness and sense of fair play and humor. But when the Captain enters, the cowed children snap back to attention while Maria is reprimanded for not observing strict bedtime hours and accused of undermining his authority. She is reminded:

The first rule in this house is discipline.

After the Captain has left, she conceives the idea of making playclothes for the children from the cast-off material of the soon-to-be replaced drapes, and resumes joyously singing “My Favorite Things.”

In the next scene, after the Captain has left for Vienna, Maria ignores his strict orders. She refuses to obey his harsh treatment of the family. Instead of keeping the children at home, she takes them on tours of the city and the surrounding countryside. The children accompany Maria to town, each wearing matching clothing from the heavy window drapes. They cross a footbridge and visit the open market for shopping, where she juggles ripe tomatoes. The happy group skips along the banks of a river, rides a train up into the Austrian Alps hills, where they experience an open-air picnic on the verdant grassy area of the film’s opening sequence, with a magnificent panorama of beautiful peaks behind them. To prepare for the Baroness’ arrival, she teaches them how to sing, beginning by giving a name to the fundamental notes of the scale – “Do-Re-Mi.”

...the first three notes just happen to be, Do-Re-Mi.

 Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La-Ti, oh let’s see if I can make it easier

 Doe, a deer, a female deer, Ray, a drop of golden sun

 Me, a name I call myself, Far, a long, long way to run

 Sew, a needle pulling thread, La, a note to follow So

 Tea, a drink with jam and bread, that will bring us back to Do…

As the song continues, marked with superb, fresh choreography, they return to town. The clothing of the children changes to reflect the passage of time during the Captain’s absence. She further explains that Do, Re, and Mi “are only the tools we use to build a song. Once you have these notes in your heads, you can sing a million different tunes by mixing them up, like this – So, Do, La, Fa, Mi, Do, Re, So, Do, La, Ti, Do, Re, Do.” Then she adds one word for every note:

When you know the notes to sing, you can sing most any thing.

A quick-cut montage shows them walking, bicycling, riding in a carriage, and running. In the carriage sequence, each of the children take one of the seven notes on the scale – Maria points to them with the buggy whip, creating a melody with their voices: “Do, Mi, Mi, Mi, So, So, Re, Fa, Fa, La, Ti, Ti.” On the steps of a garden area, she and the children jump up and down ‘musical’ steps – signifying higher and lower notes on the diatonic musical scale.

The Story (continued)


The Captain returns home with his fiancee – the wealthy, glamorous Austrian Baroness, and Max Detweiler, a self-proclaimed “very charming sponge” and an impresario who mentions that “somewhere, a hungry little singing group is waiting for Max Detweiler to pluck it out of obscurity and make it famous at the Salzburg Folk Festival.” On their drive toward the villa, they notice the rambunctious Trapp children hanging from limbs along the tree-lined road. The Captain quickly dismisses the children’s behavior: “Oh, it’s nothing – just some local urchins.” He shows Elsa his estate upon their arrival where she feels he is more “at home” than in Vienna. He compliments her as being “lovely, charming, witty, graceful, the perfect hostess, and…in a way, my savior…Well, I would be an ungrateful wretch if I didn’t tell you at least once that it was you who brought some meaning back into my life…” She hints at her own desire for marriage, mentioning that without her environment in Vienna, she is “just wealthy, unattached little me searching just like you.”

When the Captain exits to look for his children, Elsa and Max speak about her strategy to win over the wealthy, aristocratic Captain:

Max: Have you made up Georg’s mind yet? Do I hear wedding bells?

Elsa: Pealing madly.

Max: Marvelous.

Elsa: But not necessarily for me.

Max: What kind of talk’s that?

Elsa: That is none of your business talk, Max. I am terribly fond of Georg and I will not have you toying with us.

Max: But I am a child. I like toys, so tell me everything. Oh come on, tell Max every teensy, weensy, intimate disgusting detail.

Elsa: Well, let’s just say I have a feeling I may be here on approval.

Max: Well, I approve of that. How can you miss?

Elsa: Far too easily.

Max: If I know you, darling, and I do, you will find a way.

Elsa: Oh, he’s no ordinary man.

Max: No, he’s rich!

Elsa: When his wife died, she left him with a terrible heartache.

Max: And when your husband died, he left you with a terrible fortune.

Elsa: Oh, Max, you really are a beast.

Max: You and Georg are like family to me. That’s why I want to see you two get married. We must keep all that lovely money in the family.

As Rolf throws small rocks at Liesl’s window, he is caught by the Captain. Embarrassed, he makes a Heil Hitler gesture, and then delivers a telegram to Herr Detweiler, an apolitical bystander. The imminent political and military invasion-takeover of Austria by the Nazis is a subject of contention between them, and the Captain refuses to surrender:

Elsa: Oh Georg, he’s just a boy.

Captain: Yes, and I’m just an Austrian.

Max: What’s gonna happen’s gonna happen. Just make sure it doesn’t happen to you.

Captain: (incensed) Max, don’t you ever say that again!

Max: You know I have no political convictions. Can I help it if other people do?

Captain: Oh yes you can help it. You must help it.

The children are spied canoeing on the lake – as they stand to greet their father in the unwieldy vessel, the boat overturns and capsizes, and everyone falls out. The completely soaked von Trapps are whistled into a line, introduced to Baroness Schraeder, and then dismissed. Still dripping wet, Maria is chastised for her conduct, for making playclothes out of common house drapes, and for encouraging their disobedience:


Captain: Is it possible, or could I have just imagined? Have my children by any chance been climbing trees today?

Maria: Yes, Captain.

Captain: I see. And where, may I ask, did they get these, uhm, these…

Maria: Playclothes.

Captain: Oh, is that what you call them?

Maria: I made them, from the drapes that used to hang in my bedroom…They still had plenty of wear left. The children have been everywhere in them.

Captain: Do you mean to tell me that my children have been roaming about Salzburg dressed up in nothing but some old drapes?!

Maria: (affirming) Umm, hmm, and having a marvelous time.

Captain: They have uniforms.

Maria: Straitjackets, if you’ll forgive me.

Captain: I will not forgive you for that.

Maria: Children cannot do all the things they’re supposed to do if they have to worry about spoiling their precious clothes they wear….Well, they wouldn’t dare. They love you too much. They fear you too much.

Captain: I don’t wish you to discuss my children in this manner.

Maria: Well, you’ve got to hear from someone. You’re never home long enough to know them.

Captain: I said I don’t want to hear any more from you about my children.

Maria: I know you don’t, but you’ve got to!

Outspoken, she pleads for him to get to know and love his children more completely, as she does: “Oh please, Captain, love them, love them all.” Exasperated by her impertinence, the stodgy commander orders her to leave: “You will pack your things this minute and return to the Abbey.” At the same instant, he hears his children singing for the first time. Strains of “The Sound of Music” come from inside – the song that Maria taught them to sing for the Baroness. He enters the living room and watches his children performing – he is visibly touched, sings the remainder of the song, and hugs all of them. The Captain realizes his grave error in judgment and apologizes to Maria as she goes up the stairs to pack: “I behaved badly. I apologize…You were right. I don’t know my children…You’ve brought music back into the house. I’d forgotten. Fraulein, I want you to stay. I ask you to stay more than you know.”

In the Trapp villa one day, the children perform “The Lonely Goatherd,” a puppet show, where they act as a chorus and as puppeteers. Marta has the task of dropping new backgrounds into place. After the show, the Captain compliments Maria – he has undergone a major change and defrosting of his personality due to her charm: “I really am very, very much impressed.” The haughty Baroness feels a twinge of jealousy toward the talented governess for the Captain’s children:

Elsa: My dear, is there anything you can’t do?

Maria: Well, I’m not sure I’ll make a very good nun.

Elsa: Oh, if you have any problems, I’d be happy to help you.

Max makes a surprise announcement to the Captain regarding his discovery of a “most exciting entry for the Salzburg Folk Festival” – “a singing group all in one family…yours! They’ll be the talk of the festival…you heard them. They’ll be a sensation…It’s a wonderful idea, fresh, original.” But the Captain denies them permission to be entered in the festival: “Max, my children will not sing in public.” However, Maria and the children convince him to play guitar and sing the tender and poignant “Edelweiss” [Austria’s national flower], accompanied during the second verse by daughter Liesl:

Edelweiss, Edelweiss, every morning you greet me

 Small and white, clean and bright, you look happy to meet me

 Blossom of snow may you bloom and grow, bloom and grow forever

 Edelweiss, Edelweiss, bless my homeland forever…

Max suggests that the Captain and his children be part of his “new act – the von Trapp Family Singers.”

A formal dinner party with a full orchestra playing waltzes entertains wealthy guests at the villa. Herr Zeller (Ben Wright), a Nazi supporter, is disturbed that an Austrian flag is audaciously displayed in the grand foyer of the mansion. One of the orchestral numbers is the “Laendler,” an Austrian folk dance, which Maria demonstrates to the children on the outdoor patio. The Captain cuts in and dances with his children’s nanny. When the couple looks into each other’s eyes, they begin to fall in love – and Maria blushes. The Baroness witnesses the dance’s conclusion and the glow of their budding romance, and offers her insincere compliments: “Oh, that was beautifully done. What a lovely couple you make.”

Before retiring for the night, the children perform a good-night song for the guests: “So Long, Farewell.” One by one, each of them bids the audience farewell (goodbye, adieu, auf wiedersehen, etc.) before exiting. Afterwards, Max insists that Maria join the party – once she changes into more suitable party clothes: “You will be my dinner partner.” Another confrontation underlines the tension between the loyal Austrian Captain and a representative of the German Nazis:

Baron: Is there a more beautiful expression of what is good in this country of ours than the innocent voices of our children?

Zeller: Oh, come now, Baron, would you have us believe that Austria alone holds a monopoly on virtue?

Captain: Herr Zeller, some of us prefer Austrian voices raised in song to ugly, German threats.

Zeller: The ostrich buries his head in the sand, and sometimes in the flag. (He turns toward the Austrian flag.) Perhaps those who would warn you that the Anschluss is coming – and it is coming, Captain – perhaps they would get further with you by setting their words to music.

Captain: If the Nazis take over Austria, I have no doubt, Herr Zeller, that you will be the entire trumpet section.

Zeller: You flatter me, Captain.

Captain: Oh, how clumsy of me. I meant to accuse you.

As Maria changes in her bedroom, the Baroness ‘helps’ Maria by telling her about the Captain’s feelings and his dangerous attraction to her. This fearful, confusing news and her own disoriented, romantic emotions prompt the novice to begin packing:

Baroness: Now, where is that lovely little thing you were wearing the other evening, when the Captain couldn’t keep his eyes off you.

Maria: Couldn’t keep his eyes off me?

Baroness: Come, my dear, we are women. Let’s not pretend we don’t know when a man notices us…

Maria: The Captain notices everybody and everything.

Baroness: Well, there’s no need to feel so defensive, Maria. You are quite attractive, you know. The Captain would hardly be a man if he didn’t notice you.

Maria: Baroness, I hope you’re joking.

Baroness: Not at all.

Maria: But I’ve never done a thing to…

Baroness: But you don’t have to, Maria. There’s nothing more irresistible to a man than a woman who’s in love with him.

Maria: ‘In love with him’?

Baroness: Of course. What makes it so nice is he thinks he’s in love with you.

Maria: But that’s not true.

Baroness: Oh surely you’ve noticed the way he looks into your eyes. And you know, uh, you blushed in his arms when you were dancing just now. Don’t take it to heart. He’ll get over it soon enough, I should think. Men do, you know.

Maria: Then I should go. I mustn’t stay here.

As the scheming Baroness departs, she leaves with one under-handed word of encouragement about Maria’s religious duties: “I’m sure you’ll make a very fine nun.” Later, Maria stealthily comes down the stairs and places a goodbye letter on the hallway’s table before running back to the Abbey.

In the next sequence, the Baroness clumsily attempts to play ball with the gloomy-looking children – but they are joyless and inconsolable after Maria’s departure. Elsa plots a way to deal with the children: “There must be an easier way,” and tells Max that her plan is to send them away to boarding school. Without Maria, the down-hearted children sing “The Sound of Music” slowly and spiritlessly when Max rehearses them for the festival. They cannot believe that Maria is permanently gone: “I don’t believe it, father…about Fraulein Maria.” In her goodbye note, she wrote that “she missed her life at the Abbey too much. She had to leave us – and that’s all there is to it.” The littlest one asks: “Who is our new governess going to be?” The Captain takes the opportunity to announce his engagement to the Baroness:

Well, you’re not going to have a governess anymore…You’re going to have a new mother…We talked about it last night. It’s all settled. And we’re all going to be very happy.

The seven cheerless, depressed children dutifully kiss the cheek of their new ‘mother’ and then venture to town to try and visit Maria at the Abbey, but they are turned away and told – “Maria is in seclusion. She hasn’t been seeing anyone.”

Afterwards, Sister Margaretta describes Maria’s silence to the Reverend Mother: “She doesn’t say a word, Reverend Mother, except in prayer…It’s strange. She seems happy to be back here, and yet she’s unhappy too.” In a private conference with the Reverend Mother, Maria confesses why she came back – to escape from her deep, unacknowledged romantic feelings for the Captain. She is persuaded by the sympathetic Mother to return, with the understanding that married love is also a holy vocation:

Maria: I left…I was frightened…I was confused, I felt, I’ve never felt that way before. I couldn’t stay. I knew that here I’d be away from it. I’d be safe…I can’t face him again…Oh, there were times when we would look at each other. Oh Mother, I could hardly breathe…That’s what’s been torturing me. I was there on God’s errand. To have asked for his love would have been wrong. I couldn’t stay, I just couldn’t. I’m ready at this moment to take my vows. Please help me.

Reverend Mother: Maria, the love of a man and a woman is holy too. You have a great capacity to love. What you must find out is how God wants you to spend your love.

Maria: But I pledged my life to God. I pledged my life to his service.

Reverend Mother: My daughter, if you love this man, it doesn’t mean you love God less. No, you must find out and you must go back.

Maria: Oh, Mother, you can’t ask me to do that. Please let me stay, I beg of you.

Reverend Mother: Maria, 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.

The worldly-wise Reverend Mother sings the inspirational: “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” to encourage Maria:

Climb ev’ry mountain, search high and low

 Follow ev’ry byway, every path you know

 Climb ev’ry mountain, ford every stream

 Follow every rainbow, till you find your dream

 A dream that will need all the love you can give

 Every day of your life for as long as you live...

The Story (continued)


When the children return from their unsuccessful venture, their father questions them about their secretiveness about where they went, and for being late for dinner. Marta makes up an impossible excuse: “We were berry-picking,” but that’s impossible: “It’s too early for blueberries.” For their escapade and deceitful alibis, they are denied dinner. They are reminded of Maria’s cure for feeling better – singing “My Favorite Things,” but they don’t feel any change – until they hear Maria’s voice harmonizing with theirs. She has returned and happily joins in. They tell her the impending, life-changing news that the Captain will be marrying the Baroness: “The most important thing is that father is going to be married…to Baroness Schraeder.”

The Captain walks down the steps to greet Maria and to ask why she left – but she is devastated and can’t answer. She decides to stay only until he finds a new governess:

Captain: You left without saying goodbye, even to the children.

Maria: It was wrong of me, forgive me.

Captain: Why did you?

Maria: Please don’t ask me. Anyway, the reason no longer exists.

Baroness: Fraulein Maria, you’ve returned. Isn’t it wonderful, Georg?

Maria: May I wish you every happiness, Baroness? And you too, Captain. The children tell me you’re to be married.

Baroness: Thank you, my dear.

Captain: You are back to, uh, stay?

Maria: Only until arrangements can be made for another governess.

That evening in a blue dress, Maria walks near the lake and gazes up at the night sky, thinking about her life and its dilemmas. From his balcony’s terrace, the Captain also appears and looks down at her – connected across the distance. Elsa follows toward him and rattles on about what wedding gift she should give him: “…I do want you to have some little trifle for the occasion. At first, I thought of a fountain pen but you’ve already got one. And then, I thought perhaps a villa in the south of France, but they are so difficult to gift wrap…And where to go on our honeymoon – now that is a real problem. I thought a trip around the world would be lovely. Yet I said, ‘Oh Elsa, there must be someplace better to go.'” After some mutual soul-searching, they both decide to gracefully break off their engagement:

Captain: It’s no use, you and I. I’m being dishonest to both of us and utterly unfair to you. When two people talk of marriage…

Elsa: No, don’t, don’t say another word, Georg, please? You see, uh, there are other things I’ve been thinking of. Fond as I am of you, I really don’t think you’re the right man for me. You’re much too independent and I need someone who needs me desperately, or at least needs my money desperately. I’ve enjoyed every moment we’ve had together. I do thank you for that. Now, if you’ll forgive me, I’ll go inside, pack my little bags, and return to Vienna where I belong. And somewhere out there is a young lady who I think will never be a nun.

The Captain readily joins Maria by the pavilion, and asks two questions:

•”Why did you run away to the Abbey?”

•”What was it that made you come back?”

According to Maria, she “had an obligation to fulfill and I came back to fulfill it..And .I missed the children.” He explains that “nothing was the same” while she was away and “it’ll be all wrong again” after she leaves again. He attempts to persuade her to change her mind and stay longer. And then he tells her that his engagement to the Baroness is off: “There isn’t going to be any Baroness…well, we’ve, uhm, called off our engagement, you see…Well, you can’t marry someone when you’re in love with someone else, can you?” He holds her tenderly by the chin and draws her lips nearer for a kiss. Relieved, Maria has had her prayers answered:

Maria: “The Reverend Mother always says, ‘when the Lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window’.”

Captain: “What else does the Reverend Mother say?”

Maria: “That you have to look for your life.”

Captain: “Is that why you came back?” (She nods) And have you found it Maria?

Maria: “I think I have. I know I have.”

Captain: “I love you.”

Maria: “Oh, can this be happening to me?”


As they are reunited and now free to express their love, they both sing: “Something Good” – about being rewarded for something good they did in the past:

(Maria) Perhaps I had a wicked childhood, perhaps I had a miserable youth

 But somewhere in my wicked, miserable past, there must have been a moment of truth

 For here you are standing there loving me, whether or not you should

 So somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good

 Nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could

 So somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good.


(Captain) For here you are standing there loving me, whether or not you should

 (Maria) So somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good.

 (Both) Nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could

 (Maria) So somewhere in my youth (Captain) or childhood, (Maria) I must have done something, (Both) something good.


In a room off the Abbey cloister with wedding bells pealing in the background, the nuns help prepare Maria’s satiny wedding gown. They escort her to the cathedral gate, where she enters as the black-cloaked nuns remain outside and separated. The three young von Trapp girls serve as bridesmaids, and the Captain appears in full uniformed regalia at the front of the main Salzburg Cathedral for the religious marriage ceremony.

Outside, in a transition that conveys a short passage of time following the marriage, and the peaceful German Anschluss (annexation) of Austria [in March of 1938], Nazi troops march and assemble in the Salzburg Square under large red Nazi swastika banners. Herr Zeller, now a high-ranking Nazi official, is driven to the folk festival’s rehearsal, where he appears aggravated that “the only one in the neighborhood not flying the flag of the Third Reich since the Anschluss” is the Captain. Zeller wants to know from Max when the Captain will be returning from his month-long honeymoon trip.

According to Zeller, the Captain will be expected to serve under the Nazis: “When he does return, he will be expected to fill his proper position in the new order.” But the festival concert will be held that evening as originally scheduled: “Nothing in Austria has changed. Singing and music will show this to the world. Austria is the same.” Young Marta thinks “maybe the flag with the black spider on it makes people nervous.” Rolf has become indoctrinated into the Party of the Third Reich and delivers a telegram (from Berlin) for Liesl to transmit to her father. He boasts about the omniscient Nazis: “We make it our business to know everything about everyone.” He ignores her romantic invitation: “I’m now occupied with more important matters. And your father better be too if he knows what’s good for him.”

Upon his return to his villa, the Captain pulls down the Nazi banner hanging there. Disgusted, he rips it into two. The children excitedly invite Maria to attend the festival in the evening, but the Captain again refuses to have them compete in public. Max is disturbed because “if the children don’t sing at the festival, well, it will be a reflection on Austria.” Maria gives motherly advice to Liesl, now rejected by Rolf, about what happens when a person stops loving you:

You cry a little and then you wait for the sun to come out. It always does.

To buoy Liesl’s mood, she reprises a variation of “You Are Sixteen, Going on Seventeen,” suggesting that she wait a year or two.

The telegram from Berlin (from Admiral von Schreiber of the Navy of the Third Reich) offers the Captain a commission to join the German Navy, but the former Navy officer adamantly refuses to serve under Hitler: “I’ve been requested to accept immediately and report to their naval base at Bremerhaven tomorrow…To refuse them would be fatal for all of us. And joining them would be unthinkable.” His plan is to “get out of Austria – and this house – tonight” without alarming the children. During the family’s nocturnal attempt to flee the country that evening after packing, the von Trapps silently push their car past their house. It is thought that by the time the von Trapps have been announced to sing in the music festival, they’ll “be over the border.” But they are detained by the Nazis outside their own gate. Zeller offers an escort to the Salzburg show and then afterwards to Bremerhaven to force the Captain to accept his commission. To his children’s astonishment, their father convinces the Nazis that they are costumed in readiness for their performance in the musical festival.

Nazi guards watchfully surround the open-air amphitheatre during the Salzburg Folk Festival. As a farewell song dedicated in tribute to his “fellow Austrians,” the Captain patriotically reprises the “love song” “Edelweiss.”

I know you share this love. I pray that you will never let it die.

During the singing of the song, his voice cracks, and Maria steps in and encourages the entire audience to sing-along in an act of bold freedom that displeases the Nazis. While the judges are evaluating the performances of the competition, Max uses coded language to tip off the von Trapps to escape:

The festival competition has come to its conclusion, except of course we don’t know yet what that conclusion will be. And while the judges are arriving at their decision, I have been given permission to offer you an encore. This will be the last opportunity the von Trapps will have of singing together for a long, long time. Even now, officials are waiting in this auditorium to escort Captain von Trapp to his new command in the naval forces of the Third Reich. (The crowd murmurs in reaction.) And so, ladies and gentlemen, the Family von Trapp again to bid you farewell.

The family’s encore is “So Long, Farewell,” an opportune song that allows each of the members of the family to leave the stage. The results of the judging are announced by Max at the end of the show. The von Trapps are awarded first prize, “the highest honor in all Austria,” but they fail to appear after two fanfares. A Nazi guard runs out of the entryway crying: “They’re gone!” Nazi cars speed to the Abbey’s convent, where the family has fled and is being hidden by the Reverend Mother in the dark crypt area. A search commences, but the fugitive family cannot be found. Because the borders are closed, the Captain decides to flee with his family toward the Austrian mountains in the convent’s car, and then proceed on foot. The Reverend Mother blesses them: “I lift up mine eyes into the hills, from whence cometh my help…God be with you.”

Rolf, one of the Nazi guards, slyly remains behind as the others search the roof area, and he discovers them as they emerge from their hiding places. As the family escapes to the convent’s car, the Captain remains behind and challenges the pistol-wielding young lad:

You’re only a boy. You don’t really belong to them…Come away with us before it’s too late…You’ll never be one of them.

Although the Captain safely removes the revolver from the boy’s hands, Rolf summons the other officers. The entire family speeds off towards the mountains. Zeller and his men hear a car racing away and rush out to their vehicles, but they can’t get them to start. By an upstairs window, the sisters confess to the Reverend Mother that they “have sinned” – they exhibit vital car parts from under their robes.

The von Trapps are last seen climbing the Austrian mountains to freedom in Switzerland, where they can perform to the world. A chorus sings the finale of “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.”

som 50th anniversary

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