Circuit Rewind: The Sound of Music (1965)


Happy Oscar week everybody; to celebrate Circuit Rewind is taking a look at the golden anniversary Best Picture winner, “The Sound of Music.” 50 years ago the musical was one of the most popular genres of film and “The Sound of Music” one of the biggest of them all. Today, the film still stands as a pinnacle of movie musicals and has spread all throughout pop culture.

Released on March 29, 1965, “The Sound of Music” starred Julie Andrews, coming off her Best Actress win for “Mary Poppins,” Christopher Plummer and was directed by Robert Wise and told the story of the von Trapp family. Coming out before the perceived notion that big money or prestige films needed to be release in either the summer or the fall, the March release helped spring “The Sound of Music” right to the top of the box-office. It grossed a total of $163.2 million, making it the highest grossing film ever at the time, knocking off “Gone with the Wind.” Its closest competitor that year was “Doctor Zhivago,” a mere $50 million behind.

Of course, it wasn’t just a moneymaker. “Sound of Music” would go on to be nominated for ten Oscars, including a second nomination in a row for Julie Andrews in Best Actress, and ended up winning five, including the aforementioned Best Picture prize and Best Director for Wise.

Perhaps more importantly, “The Sound of Music” was a big reason that 20th Century Fox was able to survive. Coming off the flop of the highly costly “Cleopatra” in 1963, Fox was on the verge of bankruptcy, but “Sound of Music” removed that threat.

SoundMusic1“The Sound of Music” was almost instantly deemed a classic and certainly remains so today. The American Film Institute ranks it as the fourth best musical of all-time and the 40th best film. In fact, one of the only people who seems to have any real distaste for it is its leading man, Christopher Plummer, who continuously refers to the film as “The Sound of Mucus.”

More impressive than its status in film lore, however, is the impact it has had on the world outside of film. Its songs like “My Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Mi” and “So Long, Farewell” have engrained themselves into the culture that many people know them without ever having seen the film.

The film’s reputation for saving studios is also still prevalent, though not quite to the extent of how it saved Fox. In 2013, NBC staged a live performance of the musical starring Carrie Underwood that helped deliver the network’s strongest ratings since “Friends” went off the air in 2004. The success of the show has now spawned an annual live performance on the network, most recently for “Peter Pan.”

Now, “The Sound of Music” is expected to return to the Oscars, as producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are reportedly planning a tribute to the former Best Picture winner during the show. Even if the Oscars bypass it, “The Sound of Music” will be making the rounds this year with a remastered version coming out in March and as the opening night film at Turner Classic Movies’ Classic Film Festival on March 26.

Robert Wise is gone, having passed away in 2005 at the age of 91. Julie Andrews hasn’t been in a movie since 2010. The only principle that remains active in the industry is Christopher Plummer, who finally won an Oscar of his own in 2012 for “Beginners.” But no matter where they are now, their legacy, and that of everyone in the cast and crew, will always include “The Sound of Music,” a truly seminal film in Hollywood history.