Published On : Mon, Jun 22nd, 2015

On World Music day remembering Sound of Music on its 50th anniversary


Whether it was “The hills come alive, with the sound of Music

                           With songs they have sung for a thousand years
                            The hills fill my heart with the sound of music
                              My heart wants to sing every song it hears…

When Julie Andrews sang this song on the big screen for us, the whole world sang along, even India!
The film was a major commercial success, becoming the number one box office movie after four weeks, and the highest-grossing film of 1965. By November 1966, The Sound of Music became the highest-grossing film of all-time—surpassing  even Gone with the wind!—and held that distinction for five years. The film was just as popular throughout the world, breaking previous box-office records in twenty-nine countries, India being one of them.
Why India, I think the movie was one of the most popular movies even in Nagpur where it was released in Liberty theatre. It had the distinction of having the “House Full” board hanging outside for many days after its release and tickets sold in black!
ju 3 (1)I was all of ten years old at that time and the song that impressed me most was –
One of my favourite things!
I still remember some of the lyrics by rote –
When the dog bites,
When the Bee stings,
When I am feeling sad –
I simply remember my favourite things, and then I don’t feel, so bad!
And remember, what were the favourite things mentioned??
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

Who wouldn’t be bowled over….. but this song that follows really tickled the senses of our Bombay film industry ( it was yet to be called Bollywood) and found many ‘copy cat’ versions:
som 2You are sixteen going on seventeen
Waiting for life to start
Somebody kind who touches your mind
Will suddenly touch your heart
How one yearned to be suddenly 16, after hearing that one! Remember Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh crooning
” mai sola baras ke, tu satara baras ka…” just a few years after this one?
But it was not just the songs – everything about this movie was grand and opulent and very beautifully mounted. Whether it was the majestic Alps, the divine churches, the adorable kids, the naughty ‘Sisters’ of the convent… the Cinematography, the Direction, the Story, the Screen play, everything was amazing!
It was not just the Sound of Music. it was the Sight of Music too – this was such a beautiful film to behold!
No wonder, film critic Philip K. Scheuer of the Los Angeles Times describing it as “three hours of visual and vocal brilliance”…. while the snobbish Bosley Crowther of The New York Times dismissed it as “romantic nonsense and sentiment”.
Nevertheless of what some carping Critics like him said about this film, Sound of Music  received five Academy awards , including Best picture  and Best Director. . The film also received two Golden Globe Awards, for Best Motion Picture and Best Actress, the Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement, and the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written American Musical. In 1998, the American Film Institute (AFI) listed The Sound of Music as the fifty-fifth greatest American movie of all time, and the fourth greatest movie musical. In 2001, the United States Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the National Film Registry, finding it “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. (from wikipedia)
somWhat was more incredible was that movie was based on a real life story –The Sound of Music story is based on Maria von Trapp’s memoir, The story of the Trapp family singers , published in 1949 to help promote her family’s singing group following the death of her husband Georg in 1947. And it was first made into a German film before coming to Hollywood. Hollywood producers had expressed interest in purchasing the title only, but Maria had refused, wanting her entire story to be told. In 1956,  it was a German producer  Wolfgang Liebeneiner purchased the film rights for $9,000 (equivalent to $78,070 in 2015), hired  two German writers  to write the screenplay, and Franz Gorthe  to supervise the soundtrack, which consisted of traditional Austrian folk songs. The  film called Trapp  Family  was released in West Germany on October 9, 1956 and became a major success. Two years later, Liebeneiner directed a sequel, The Trapp Family in America, and the two pictures became the most successful films in West Germany during the post-war years. Their popularity extended throughout Europe and South America.
Then in USA it was first adapted as a Broadway Musical play in 1959 staged in a famous New York theatre. It ran on Broadway for 1,443 performances, winning six Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It was as a play that it got its news title – The Sound of Music. In June 1960, Twentieth Century Fox purchased the film adaptation rights to the stage musical for $1.25 million (equivalent to $9,964,848 in 2015) against ten percent of the gross.
Even afterwards, there were many changes with one Actress replacing another thus the movie was finally made in 1965 – about events that had happened during the World War 2 so many years ago!
The movie did not become an instant hit – it grew on the audiences gradually and by the second week of its release really picked up. There was no looking back then, and as mentioned above it went on to become the top grosser internationally!
So evergreen the movie is, that at this year’s Academy awards function, one of the most popular performances was Lady Gaga singing songs from Sound of Music, with a much older, but still as graceful Julie Andrews in the audience listening to it!
This is a movie that I bet will never go out of fashion. I am surprised it hasn’t been re made yet , or may be it is such a classic that no one will tamper with it. Just like they cannot make “Gone with the Wind ” again while a movie like ‘A star is Born’ gets made and remade three times. (Our last year’s hit film Ashiqui two, was an almost frame to frame copy of this movie). Even Sound of Music was ‘copied’ and made into quite a forgettable film starring Jaya Bhaduri and Jeetendra.It is said  that Jeetendra refused to act a widower and father to 7 children so chose to act as their elder brother! It is right there that the movie lost its charm so I won’t even bother to remember its name here…
I can just foresee, babies who are toddlers now crooning – “Doe – a Deer, a female deer” 15 years from now! If I could sing, I would sing Maria style – “this is one of my favourite things!”


Sunita Mudliyar