Reviewed by: Brett Willis
Starring: Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Eleanor Parker, Richard Haydn, Peggy Wood | Director: Robert Wise | Producer: Saul Chaplin | Distributor: 20th Century Studios, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Studios, a division of The Walt Disney Company
This film (“Best Picture” Oscar®—1965) is definitely one of a kind—a pro-family, anti-totalitarian Rogers and Hammerstein musical drama based on a true story. Memorable numbers include the title song, “Edelweiss,” and “Climb Every Mountain.”
Free-spirited Maria (Julie Andrews) is temporarily reassigned from her Austrian convent (before taking her final vows) to serve as governess to the seven Von Trapp children. Their widowed father (Christopher Plummer) is a former Navy officer and runs a tight ship at home, even calling each child with a distinct sound from his whistle. The children take out their frustration on the governesses, and none of them have lasted long. But Maria has a special touch and can do just about anything, including giving the children and their father back to each other. Maria gets along splendidly with the children; but when she senses that she’s falling in love with Captain Von Trapp while he’s courting someone else, she honorably resigns her position. The Mother Superior forces her to go back to her governess assignment and face her problems. It turns out that Captain Von Trapp feels about Maria as she does about him, and eventually the other woman withdraws in favor of Maria. Now the only obstacle to the family’s happiness is the fact that Nazi Germany has “absorbed” Austria into the Third Reich and the Captain has been re-commissioned into the German navy—a position he will never accept.
This film itself is even more amazing than Maria’s character in that it manages to deal with all kinds of serious life issues, even the Nazi angle, without being offensive to younger viewers. The scariest content is the menacing, threatening nature of some of the Nazis; no one is actually killed or injured, and the ending is triumphant. If you and your family have never seen this film, I recommend that you do.