The Sound of Music (1965)

Directed by Robert Wise

To begin, I have to admit to being one of those people who, 9 times out of 10, thoroughly hates musicals. However, at least half of my family, including my mother, absolutely adore them. So I generally keep quiet about my opinions.

But if I roll my eyes and groan 9 times out of 10, every so often there is that 1 in 10 that is the exception. The Sound of Music is probably the pre-eminent of those.

My fondness is partly because the music is so good, partly because it’s one of the few movie musicals that has something of a coherent story, and partly nostalgia. When the movie first came out, our house was filled with the songs from the movie.

We saw the film, we had the album, our family sang the songs incessantly.

Those were the Julie Andrews years, I suppose. (Not that her career was short-lived – anything but. At the time, however, roughly 1965-66, a bunch of movies came out in which she starred, including The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins.) The world seemed to like pert, cute British lasses who sang. (It was around this same time that Petula Clark was going around singing about Downtown.)

Hmm … Anyway, it is a great movie musical, one of the few I like. Cinematically, it’s also quite lovely to look at. The directing is excellent in the traditional Hollywood style with a focus on script and performance and gorgeous scenery. The DVD (20th Century Fox, Five Star Collection – 2 disc set) provides a terrific transfer that includes commentary by director Robert Wise (who also directed Star Trek: the Motion Picture – which I find baffling). There is also a 2nd disc with numerous features, including an 87 minute “making of” documentary (The Sound of Music: From Fact to Phenomenon).

One of the things I like most in the special features is this documentary. Unlike the usual DVD “features,” a series of snippets or a 22 minute made for TV quick-cut, short on content, collection of featurettes, the principal feature here really is a documentary. Unfortunately, it’s a very dry, pedestrian one. While informative, it plods along like an old used car salesman who can’t wait to retire.

However, this 2 disc Five Star Collection edition of The Sound of Music is worth getting; it’s probably the definitive edition and will be for some time. According to DVD Journal it will be coming off the shelves August 13 of this year (2002) to be replaced by a single disc edition, so if you want this one you should pick it up soon .

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