Old Lady Movie NightOld Lady Movie Night: "The Sound Of Music" (Part 1)Anne T. Donahue

Well frankly, I don’t understand what took me so long. I mean, I know I say this each and every week, but how I could have overlooked a movie that meant so much to me as a child and as a teen and as an adult? I lived this movie. I breathed this movie. I wore old pieces of lace (overtop of my clothes, for heaven’s sake) that my Nana didn’t use for sewing so I could imagine various costumes and play various roles that were featured in this movie.

I learned learned lyrics. I learned dances. I learned how to do a Baroness impression (which was especially impressive for an 11-year-old girl). I learned that The Sound Of Music may be the greatest movie of all time.

(“Of all time!” screamed Kanye West, somewhere, nowhere near me.)

So yes, friends, we’re going to watch The Sound Of Music. And we’re going to watch it in two parts because there is no way any of us can sit through three hours straight without it being Christmas or being sick (although I totally feel like I’m coming down with something so HEY, maybe this is just a big old giant self-fulfilling prophecy). So this week we will go from “The Hills Are Alive” all the way to the scene where Maria splits because she feels uncomfortable and it says “Intermission.” If it were real life, we would switch tapes. But we won’t, because I’m watching this movie on DVD, and I can just sit here and click the arrow button and avoid the very long scene with the stairs and the overture. So that’s what I’ll do. Guys, get sit. We’re going back to Titanic (as a figure of speech – not the actual movie which we already all watched together).

Strudel!

1. How did you get up there, Maria, and aren’t you WARM?

So we open on this beeeeaaaauuuuttttiful day, and Maria is spinning and she’s spinning and she’s singing and she’s singing, and doesn’t it look HOT UP THERE? She’s wearing wool! Eight layers of wool to be exact (without being exact), and I can say based on personal experience that wearing black in the sun leads to the opposite feeling of wanting to twirl and sing songs. It leads to complaining and maybe dousing yourself in the brook she’s so found of singing about. Also, imagine if the hills were alive? And – SPOILER ALERT – when they escape to Switzerland, the camera pans out and the hills have a face and eyes and then they wink at you as if to say, “IS IT?” (because when the movie ends, it says “The End”).

2. So the nuns are actually really mean …?

They’re supposed to be nuns. SERVANTS OF GOD, if years and years of Catholic school have taught me anything. But they’re singing this gossipy song about this young woman who likes to sing? I mean, EXCUSE HER for being really unique and great, am I right? (Yes.) Like, no offense, singing nuns, but it seems your abbey is a huge giant buzzkill, and Maria’s just trying to liven it up a little. Hasn’t anyone seen that play with the singing French nuns? Nuns like to laugh, you guys! Apparently, because these ones are totally laughing at the expense of Julie Andrews despite gossip being a major “hell no.” Whatever, nuns. Whatever!

3. “SEVEN?!”

Remember how the Reverend Mother tells Maria she’s about to babysit seven children and Maria’s just like “SEVEN?!?!!” as if the Reverend Mother was telling her she was planning on showing her the movie Seven on repeat, instead. Let’s all just take a step back and remember the year was 1938 (or ’39) and having seven babies was like brushing your teeth, basically. But okay, Maria. Act shocked. Act like you did not just grow up in Europe in the ’20s and ’30s like our grandparents who all have 25925825 brothers and sisters.

4. I have confidence!

Can we please talk about what a BANGER this song is? I’m about to make a very personal confession, and it’s that I have The Sound Of Music soundtrack downloaded safely on my iPod and I crank this gem every time I walk ANYWHERE because you know what? I DO have confidence when Julie Andrews reminds me how much confidence she has. And let’s take a walk down memory lane, why don’t we: I used to run up and down my grandparents’ hallways scream-singing this while holding an empty guitar case and wearing a giant hat because I could not love a song more when I was 4 – 11.) And I also had a mushroom (“pixie”) cut. Maria Von Trapp, you guys. Get on board.

5. And why is the butler so awkward?

I mean, he obviously graduated from the school of “how to open the front door like a total freak” and then disappears into the darkness like John Lovitz as the second wedding singer in the cinematic classic, The Wedding Singer. This guy! I mean, laugh, maybe? Laugh when she mistakes you for the dreamiest man alive? Because, sir, not to be rude, but you have seen better days. (And I say this only based on his character in this movie, because you KNOW if he played a babe in any other movie, I would be all, “THIS GUY, EH? EH?!”)

6. And speaking of awkward, Maria goes into a random room and begins bowing at walls

Like, listen. I am all about imagination. Imagination is what kept me running through the hallways at my grandparents’ house. But why would Maria galavant into this stranger’s house and go into a room with a closed door and then just stay in there, bowing at things? Imagine? Imagine you did that? You would be a crazy person! You would also probably not get the job as the nanny for somebody’s fourteen thousand children.

7. Oh, and here comes the whistle!

WOW, Captain Von Trapp. Let’s dial it down a notch or six. Like, I get he was a naval captain and that he’s sad, but a whistle? Like, even Nanny 9-1-1 or whatever that show is called would come in and be like, “Let the children laugh, perhaps?” Also, let’s talk about the emotional trauma these children obviously endured. First, their mom dies. Then they get totally ignored by their father, who won’t use their names and instead uses a whistle, then their nanny – who teaches them to laugh and love – runs away, and then when things go well, they have to use the concert – the only thing they were looking forward to in the ENTIRE WORLD – as a way to escape the Nazis (BY FOOT) over the Alps. In shorts and capes, no less.

8. Brigida was my hero

I grew up with The Sound Of Music, yeah, but when I was 11, I REALLY attached myself to the role of Brigida, probably because she was also 11 and I convinced myself that I could play her in a remake (because EVERYONE would really want to see THAT). So I learned each and every line she spoke, and her parts to every song, and would even respond to her name while watching the movie because I was actually crazy …? Anyway. Then I found out she was in Lost In Space, and I think we all know what quickly became my favourite show. (Not Lost In Space because I really didn’t like it. I think at age 11 it was definitely still The Wonder Years.) But still! YOU GO, BRIGIDA AND GLEN COCO.

9. These children are nightmares

I mean, duh. But actually. Spiders? Frogs? Switching names? Making fun of her clothes? You guys are terrible, you “poor little dears” indeed. Whatever, Maria. I got your back. I also would have raised my voice, but that’s the (only) difference (at all) (obviously) between you and I.

10. I love how they just throw the drapes into the mix

Like, a completely unnecessary scene. Just totally not needed! I mean, we probably could’ve scrapped this scene completely UNTIL we all realize she wants to make the drapes into CLOTHES, and they needed to tie it in. AHHHHHH. (Moment of understanding.) “Well isn’t that special.” – Church Lady.

11. Okay, so I failed us all by not acknowledging what a major babe Captain Von Trapp is

RIGHT? I mean, that hair. And that FACE! And that accent that NOBODY has in Canada, yet Christopher Plummer has it because he’s Canadian. (Stage actor, I know, I know.) Man, I WISH Canadians sounded like that. And looked like that. And were him, minus the very turbulent personal life he had up until he was like, 60. But let’s not worry about that! Let’s worry about that as Maria is sitting on that pinecone, HE IS FALLING IN LOVE WITH HER. (Spoiler alert! Sorry everyone that this is just going to keep happening because this movie was made in 1965 and I don’t know how to help you if you haven’t seen it.)

#Truth

12. You are 16 going on 17

So I have a few thoughts about this song. First and foremost, 1) Remember when it was at the end of Mad Men a couple weeks ago? HELLO, NURSE. Did everyone just raise their hands in the air and wave them around like they just didn’t care? Because I didn’t, I just Tweeted about it because I am the worst. But hey – if you did the former, I could learn a thing or two from how rad you are. SECOND, this song! I loved singing to it but mostly DANCING to it, because I can’t actually dance, but I liked to pretend I could and I just ran around the living room leaping off things. Because 3) WHAT UP, THAT DANCE. Also that dress! I still want a dress like Leisel’s. She also does not need a governance at age 16, because I was definitely babysitting children by the time I was like, 12, so I mean, Captain Von Trapp has REALLY dropped the ball on this whole “parenting” shtick.

BUT FINALLY 4) My Nana always made me either skip this song or not sing along to it because she did not believe women should “depend” on men. And I’d just mad because WHAT THE HELL, Nana, this was the best song on the whole soundtrack! (Like, she totally had a point, and I mean, the Liesel/Rolf dynamic is so strange because they hadn’t even kissed yet but they were doing intense choreography? I DON’T BUY IT, ROGERS & HAMMERSTEIN.)

Sidenote: just realized Brigida is actually ten, so there goes everything I used to believe in.

13. I hate Rolf (DUH)

I always have, and I always will. Even as a kid, I thought he was the worst. And that was BEFORE I knew he was a Nazi. So I mean, not to say I’m a great judge of character, but . . . I am.

14. Thunderstorms DO bond for life

As somebody with an indescribable fear of terrible weather, I will say that thunderstorms can bond you to somebody else in ways no other weather disasters ever could (read: anything having to do with Twister). And if I have learned anything from sitting up in the Rona Home and Garden break room during a tornado warning with another friend who was terrified of thunderstorms and potential tornadoes, you will never, ever forget thinking you were/are going to die (together, by the lockers that smelled like shoes).

And no, we did not sing, but if we had, OH IF WE HAD.

15. And then they take the longest walk imaginable and learn how to sing!

Lies, you kids totally knew how to sing already. But sure! Okay, fine. We’ll pretend they had NEVER EVER sang in their lives. But you know what we can’t pretend? How tired they must have been by the time they got to the giant mountain and/or clearing. (Off camera: Edward Cullen looms in the distant; maybe he’s Rolf.) And then they had to go all the way BACK?! This is the worst day ever, Maria. I would hate this. I would need a nap by about 2 p.m., and then about 15 bottles of water for the six hours it would take us to come home. And now she’s the guy with her acoustic guitar when everyone just wants to sit around eating apples. Maria, why are you doing this to us/them/everyone? (You are still the best, and I want to be your best friend for real.)

15. b) Okay, but I’m having a moment watching them run around Austria

IMAGINE? Imagine running around Austria with Julie-freaking-Andrews? Like, DON’T MIND IF I DO, EVERYBODY. “What did you do today?” – “Oh, I went to Austria with Julie Andrews. What did you do?” – “I watched a game show”

Also bonus points to Maria for not losing her cool when Gretel dropped the tomato which probably would have cost at least $50 in circa-’30s Austria times. Sidenote: now they are taking the TRAIN to this mountain clearing. WHERE IS THIS PLACE? how far away are they?! And then Louisa asks if they can do it, “every day” and it’s like “But it will take us 14 days to get back home, Louisa. We’ve had to eat dandelions for sustenance.”

16. And then “Do Re Me” may also be the longest song in the world

So we go from one scene (six weeks ago, on the mountain), and now, recovered from malnutrition and exhaustion, we launch into the second singing lesson which sees them in another mysterious part of town we can only assume was six countries over (in Lithuania, where they were visiting my family). So how did this start? Did they just stop singing on the mountain? Like, “NO. We can only get to a certain point,” says Maria. And then they end up in this new part of town where they are singing in public and she is like, “It is time for lesson number two!” And now they’re on bikes?! And in a horse and buggy? WHEN ARE THEY STOPPING THE SONG AND CONTINUING?  THIS IS TOO MUCH. She is dancing everywhere! Guys, I’d be humiliated. How many times have they been practicing this? How long have they been singing?! When do they know when it’s over? When she reaches the high note? “We’re done,” Maria announces, four years after they first began. “And now we climb trees.”

17. The Baroness = WHAT A DAME

You know, she gets a really bad rap for “not being Maria,” but what’s the matter with The Baroness? She’s glamorous and she’s nice and she obviously likes Captain Von Trapp, and she likes wearing nice clothes. And so WHAT she’s going to send the kids to boarding school. They’re the worst! I mean, remember in the second part where they launch a giant bouncy ball at her because their nanny ran away? GET A LIFE, KIDS. I’d send them to boarding school too! Or at least like, I don’t know. Buy their affection with candy or something. (Do kids still like candy?) Either way. The Baroness is fierce, and let’s all just accept that. (Also she was 44-ish when this movie was made, and WHAT?!)

18. Uncle Max wasn’t real, you guys

So I may or may not have read Maria Von Trapp’s memoir when I was really into The Sound Of Music at age 11, and it was confirmed by Ms. Maria Von Trapp herself that Max was fictitious. So was the lake, which I mean, COME ON, Hollywood, how dare you. (Also, my Mom went to Vermont in the ’70s and met the REAL Maria because she stayed at her hotel, and apparently Maria drove a little sports car really, really fast, and she was “adorable” as described by Mama Donahue.)

19. BOOM DROPS MIC

Okay, so only a monster wouldn’t laugh at his children being plunged into a freezing cold lake, so I guess Captain Von Trapp is kind of a monster. But let’s replace “monster” with “handsome” and “terribly misunderstood,” and then let’s LOL when Maria tells him off and he calls her “Captain” and she tells him he is the worst father in the entire world. BECAUSE HE IS. (Also, where did Maria learn to sew all those clothes? Where was the sewing machine? WHY DID HE MAKE THEM WEAR UNIFORMS.) Also, then the kids start singing and Maria BASICALLY drops the mic because his world just got SHOOK.

20. Oh, and NOW he’s a nice person

See, you CAN be saved by the power of song! But more particularly, show tunes, because they withstand the test of time. They will soften the light on you and make your eyes seem sparkly and make Christopher Plummer SING. And then that singing will be beautiful, and you will realize that no man will ever compare to Captain Von Trapp because he is actually the most handsome man I think in the history of cinema. And then he will re-hire you if you were just fired from him outside because he is a new man. A sensitive man. A man who believes in miracles and Edelweiss.

I hear you, kids.

21. OH MY GOD THE PUPPET SHOW

Wow good luck to any parents who show their kids this movie and then buy them anything else for Christmas or birthdays. I mean, true, the puppets look like they will come to life and attack you in your sleep, but that is ALL BESIDES THE POINT when they are yodeling and singing and changing the backdrops. Now the only question I have is whether they could stage any other performance or if this storyline about the beer-drinking goats was the only one that could fly. (And how MUCH was this?! Does Captain Von Trapp sleep on a pile of money?) (Yes.)

22. Edelweiss

Be still my heart. BE. STILL. I love you, C-Plums. I love you, and I love your ability to lip sync to the man’s voice who sang for you. (It’s true, everyone. It’s not fair, but I can’t carry the burden of this knowledge alone. Also, I mean, his beautiful hair more than makes up for it, just never see Star Trek 6 if that’s the argument you choose to stick with.)

23. THE PARTY

Well there are a lot of points to be made when it comes to the event of 1930-whatever year this is. And let’s do this alphabetically:

1) The Captain. Still looking handsome! Congrats.

2) The Baroness’ dress. HITTING IT OUT OF THE PARK. I hated it – HATED it – when I was like, six, but that’s because I didn’t understand what nice things from the 1930s looked like. And you know what? I would also hate that my fiancee was dancing with some singing broad at my welcome party. What is that even about? Like, we all know that Maria and The Captain are the cutest couple in the world, but that’s bad form, everyone. It’s not like she came all the way from Vienna or anything – OH WAIT YES SHE DID.

(Sidenote: I really, really did not like Maria’s dress, then or now. Even as a kid, I was just like, “Could you please maybe put on a better outfit? This is a fancy party. Could the rich Captain maybe splurge on something a little nicer? ANYTHING nicer? Like… the shawl of the old lady I’m currently looking at in the lobby right now?) (Of the movie. There is no lady in the lobby of the house I live in, because it is a house.)

3) The dance! Oh but then the dancing happens. And the soft lighting. Again! And Maria looks terrified and gets super-weird, and it’s like, “Really, Maria? Can you not just play it cool for ONE SECOND in your life?” But on the other hand, none of us have danced with beautiful young Christopher Plummer, so who knows. I will say, though, watching all this singing and music, that this family may have been the very first “bohemian” family, and I would not blame The Baroness for feeling out of place, because not everyone wants to hang out at a hipster house when they thought they were marrying a guy who was really into, say… the navy.

24. The baroness played pretty dirty, let’s not kid ourselves

The woman has courage. Let’s just acknowledge that right now. “Let’s not pretend we don’t know when a man notices us,” YIKES. Also, I mean, I would feel SO AWKWARD if I were Maria, in all fairness. I don’t know anyone who would confront somebody like that in their own room. I think part of me would think she was also propositioning me or something? Like, hi, you’re in my room and I’m in my underwear and you’re telling me I’m pretty and that your fiance likes me? Lady, BACK OFF. I actually wouldn’t know how to react. I think I would make a joke and then leave. So yes, the Baroness handled it badly. But you know who handled it worse?

25. Maria handled all of that SO BADLY

So that’s what you’re going to do, adult Maria? You’re going to leave? Just leave the kids after having a really fun party? You’re going to teach them to dance, and then you are going to flee? You left a note. You left a note! Well then you have all your bases covered then, don’t you? It’s all fine! It says RIGHT THERE that you have to go be a nun again because it’s “not your fault, kids, I just gotta run!” I’m going to go ahead and assume that’s EXACTLY what the note said because I have no idea what else it could possibly say. Maybe, “Kurt, HOW did you hit that high note in ‘So Long Farewell’?!” also, “Gretel, the cute shtick is kind of wearing thin.” I DON’T KNOW. Either way, let’s just add another emotional scar to the children who are literally nearly fragile and broken.

CUE THE “EDELWEISS” OVERTURE. “INTERMISSION” INDEED.

(God, this movie is the greatest thing I have ever watched in my entire life.)

To be continued . . .

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  1. I grew up with this movie as well – am I really the only dude who’s gonna reply to this?? They played it at the Egyptian Theatre here in town a couple weeks ago and it was like seeing it for the first time. Three of the girls were there for a q&a and to sign copies of their book and Liesl told an awesome story about the “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” number and Studio Doctors. :)

  2. All I can say to this article is…RIGHT ON! I have always loved this movie, it’s one of my ALL TIME favorites, and feel the same way about many of these scenes! If Julie Andrews is a major factor (like it was for me) in your enjoyment of this film, I would suggest reading her autobiographical memoir, Home: A Memoir of my Early Years by, you guessed it, Julie Andrews herself. It’s fascinating and enlightening!

  3. That opening scene is just so green and beautiful!!

    I used to hate this movie because the second half got all serious and long and I didn’t get the politics, but now I own it and I watch it all the time because it’s just such a great feel good movie…

    And I want to be Maria and live there, in all the mountains and the green.

  4. Thank you, this has made my day! tSoM is my FAVOURITE film but it took me about 20 years to realise (a) how heartstoppingly fit the Captain is (Friedrich was of course my von Trapp man of choice when I was 7), and (b) that Maria is the quintessential feminist icon. Looking forward to part 2!

  5. <3

    That's all I have to say.

  6. did you know it wasn’t actually Christopher Plummer singing Edelweiss? he sang it live, but they eventually dubbed it. HOW RUDE. maybe you did know that, but for anyone who enjoys this movie will absolutely love the special features on the most recent anniversary editions. i can’t remember which one exactly i bought for my mom (there’s probably like a million anniversary editions out there), but there was a TON of info about adapting the musical for the screen (quite a few songs – including your fave Confidence – were added for the movie adaptation. hard to imagine it wasn’t originally part of the musical, amirite?) and about the actors and writers and producers and all this really fascinating stuff. i haven’t managed to watch it all, but it’s on a LOTR scale of special feature awesome-in-depth-ness.

  7. I love this movie. Had the best time putting it on as a production in High School.

  8. hahahahah! this article for one was amazing. I have also loved this movie and grew up on it, but fun fact, the kid who plays Kurt (the young boy), named Duane Chase in real life, is one of my dad’s good friends. I haven’t seen him in like 10 years but he’s a nice guy, we (well my family) have all sorts of memorabilia from the movie signed by him :). And ohhhh Captain Von Hottie, what a stud that Christopher Plumber. I remember my mom recorded something on Oprah a few years back that had the whole cast together as a Sound of Music special and the girl who played Leisel, told a story about going out drinking with Christopher Plumber during their time making the movie and saying he could hold his alcohol like no other. I loved this post<3!

  9. i enjoyed this post SO much. I watched the sound of music just the other day as well, and i have to agree it is the greatest thing ever. I didn’t really get it that much when i was young, but rewatching it now; its got everything! romance, suspense, singing, comedy! what do we need other films for again??

  10. Can’t wait for the second part. Captain Von Hot indeed!

  11. Im so glad I am not alone in my obsession with this movie. Its not the goal of many 12 year olds to see how many times they can watch this movie in a summer, but it was definitely a goal of mine!

  12. I love this so much!!! I fully agree with you on the hotness of Christopher Plummer. I love the movie so much that I went to Salzburg on holiday last month and my legend of boyfriend proposed on the alter of the church where the filmed the wedding scene in the movie!!

  13. this is SO TOTALLY WONDERFUL

  14. Loved this!! My mom also stayed at the Von Trapp B&B in Vermont and met Maria and one of the girl…can’t remember which.

  15. I about died laughing! I was Gretel in a school play, and I got my 3 seconds of fame singing ‘the sun, has gone, to bed and so must I…’ The GREATEST 3 seconds of MY LIFE!!!