Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Sound of Music Story

Book 40 of my 2016 Reading Challenge
read from April 18 - May 04

The Sound of Music Story: How a Beguiling Young Novice, a Handsome Austrian Captain, and Ten Singing von Trapp Children Inspired the Most Beloved Film of All Time by Tom Santopietro

Summary (via Goodreads)

On March 2, 1965, "The Sound of Music" was released in the United States and the love affair between moviegoers and the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical was on. Rarely has a film captured the love and imagination of the moviegoing public in the way that "The Sound of Music" did as it blended history, music, Austrian location filming, heartfelt emotion and the yodeling of Julie Andrews into a monster hit. Now, Tom Santopietro has written the ultimate "Sound of Music" fan book with all the inside dope from behind the scenes stories of the filming in Austria and Hollywood to new interviews with Johannes von Trapp and others. Santopietro looks back at the real life story of Maria von Trapp, goes on to chronicle the sensational success of the Broadway musical, and recounts the story of the near cancellation of the film when the "Cleopatra" bankrupted 20th Century Fox. We all know that Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer played Maria and Captain von Trapp, but who else had been considered? Tom Santopietro knows and will tell all while providing a historian's critical analysis of the careers of director Robert Wise and screenwriter Ernest Lehman, a look at the critical controversy which greeted the movie, the film's relationship to the turbulent 1960s and the super stardom which engulfed Julie Andrews. Tom Santopietro's "The Story of 'The Sound of Music'" is book for everyone who cherishes this American classic.

My Opinion

First things first...the book description is super cheesy, mentioning the "inside dope" (not a phrase I'm familiar with) and the author's name more times than I've ever seen in a book summary.

This book makes it seem like everything and everyone came together so well, it's like the behind-the-scenes was as unbelievably perfect as the movie premise.

Some fun facts:

  • The movie The Day the Earth Stood Still received a Golden Globe for "Best Film Promoting International Understanding".  That seems like a pretty unusual category and I wonder how many times that award has been given.
  • Nicholas Hammond (Friedrich) grew 6 inches, from 5'3 to 5'9, during filming so Charmian Carr (Liesl) had to stand on boxes in some scenes to remain taller than him throughout the movie.
  • When Maria and Captain von Trapp are singing in the gazebo, the reason it's in silhouette is because a piece of equipment kept making noises that sounded like farts and they couldn't stop laughing; the silhouette was the solution after spending almost a day on it without them being able to get through it once.
  • The branch manager of the 20th Century Fox's Munich office cut the last hour of the movie, ending it at their marriage with none of the Nazi stuff. He was fired and it was restored.  
I loved this quote from Victoria Remond about people having sing-alongs with the movie: "This is like the Rocky Horror Picture Show for dorks".

A Few Quotes from the Book 

"Lehman understood The Sound of Music's bedrock appeal: the show concerned the eternal verities of faith, love, and family. It would, he felt, stand the test of time precisely because it was not concerned with catering to the attitude of the present day."

"Only Julie Andrews, it seems, could make a euphemism for farting sound like a fit topic for teatime discussion with the queen."

"There was no ambiguity in The Sound of Music. The good were not just good - they were godly. The bad were found in the form of the greatest villains of all, the Nazis. This black-and-white universe was safe, secure, and above all reassuring."

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