Sound of Music, The (1965)

The Sound of Music (1965), directed by Robert Wise.

Autocratic sea captain abducts innocent nun! Forced to sing folk songs in full view of children! A lurid tale of vice, seduction and puppetry during a Nazi jamboree!

I'd seen this before but had no memory of many beautiful scenes. The new Blu-ray is rather good and maybe that made me see it with new eyes.

In memory it is all syrup and silliness and it does begin with much goofiness in the convent. But there is a slow story arc of increasing drama: the distant father, growing romance, love and marriage and finally the tense Anschluss segment and escape from the Nazis. Being a family picture, sexual desire must be constrained, but suppression can be exciting, which I suppose is the secret of women's romance novels.

The stunning landscapes and rich, elaborate sets are a bonus, but the engine driving this production is Julie Andrews. Incredible star power and talent: that voice plus a mastery of her characters: awkward tomboy, conflicted nun, dancing governess, wife and mother.

Christopher Plummer is also an asset. He's 36 here, meant to be a bit older. We like it when the stern father softens a bit, but appreciate his toughness in the final act. It would be easy to dislike Eleanor Parker's Other Woman, but she plays her sympathetically and the Baroness is not a bad sort, doing the right thing in the end.

Traditionally, stage musicals have bad music and worse lyrics. Don't ask me why, I didn't do it. We have a mixture here, from the positively poor ("Maria" and "Do-Re-Mi") to the overblown ("Climb Every Mountain") and adequate ("My Favorite Things"), to the rather good (the title song and "I Must Have Done Something Good"). Apart from "The Lonely Goatherd" not much suggests 1930s Austria, but again that's the nature of stage musicals.

Available on Blu-ray.