A not-so-long time ago on a website very, very close….
It is a odd time for reviewing film. Although Film A Week has been completed, more films have been driven out by the IMDB watch list to be reviewed from around a variety of genres.
Evading the dread IMDB watch list, Film A Week led by Serg Beret have established a sequel series from the groundwork of the last one.
The evils of new cinema, obsessed with monetary gain and franchises, have dispatched these films into the far reaches of reviewing to be seen by Serg Beret…for the first time ever…
I’m a liar apparently. I said there would be only one Film A Week, but I have returned for another round of reviews only for the summer this time around. I wanted something to keep my mind busy and focused while handling matters elsewhere during the summer to keep me on track. And, like all good sequels, this one has to do something the other didn’t and break new ground. The other series focused on revisiting films I have seen and films I have never watched, but as it went on, more films I had seen before popped up frequently.
This time, however, I want to change it up a bit. For Film A Week Part II, the tables have been turned by sticking only to films I have never seen and only one per genre, so don’t expect two Disney movies in the same vein or films I have seen before. Get ready to see a few classic I have never seen and be prepared to slap me for that fact. With that said, let’s start with the grand daddy of sing-a-longs everywhere…1965’s The Sound of Music.
In 1965, Julie Andrews was on fire in the Hollywood scene with the previous year’s release of the timeless classic Mary Poppins. During this time, Julie Andrews was busy filming in Salzburg, Austria for what would be considered an other classic musical, if not considered her acting masterpiece. Her, along with the incomparable Christopher Plummer, take on Rogers and Hammerstein with the best of them. The Sound of Music takes the real life struggle of the von Trapp Family Singers with a lighthearted view beneath the harshness of the Nazis taking over the country at this time. What follows is a film of cheers, jeers and a guest appearance by the most hated party next to the Tea Party, the Nazi party.
The Sound of Music tells the tale of a candidate to be a nun at Nonnberg Abbey named Maria (Julie Andrews) who runs arounds causing trouble and singing bout the hills being alive with music.
Mother Abbess (Peggy Woods) gets a request from a widowed Naval captain by the name of Georg von Trapp (Christopher Plummer) to serve as a governess to his seven children and tells Maria to take the position. Maria is reluctant at first, but decides to do it as part of her mission from God.
Maria arrive to the Von Trapp family to begin her duties and meets them all individually.
The Von Trapp family roundup includes the gorgeous Lisel (Charmain Carr), the quiet and timid Fredrich (Nicholas Hammond), the daydreamer Louisa (Heather Menzies), the incorrigible Kurt (Daune Chase), the brutally honest Brigitta (Angela Cartwright), the kind-hearted Marta (Debbie Turner) and the young and shy Gretl (Kym Karath). Maria attempts to bond with these children starting with Lisel after the rousing musical number “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” where Lisel is charmed by Rolfe (Daniel Truhitte).
Sidenote: This scene kicks all kinds of ass, which is why the whole scene is here.
After finding the young Lisel all wet from the rain outside, she protects her from the horrors that is the rain, leading to the von Trapp children to run into the room scared of the rain. Maria begins to run down a few of her favorite things that help her forget about the bad of life and the rain. Luckily, this song is aptly titled “My Favorite Things”.
But then Georg comes into interrupt, leading to Christopher Plummer’s greatest “Oh shit” reaction in the entire film.
Maria starts to communicate better with the children by going out on the town, making them new clothes, talking about their feelings and, most importantly, singing and music starting with the classic “Do-Re-Mi.”
As the children get closer to Maria, they start to get comfortable and more sentimental with her as their father will not put up with their Von Crap, heading to be with Baroness Elsa von Schraeder (Eleanor Parker and not to be confused with Elsa Schneider). The von Trapp children start singing a reprise of “The Sound of Music” with Maria as they notice their father has returned (that was frickin’ quick) and does not approve of their new found singing. Yet, upon discovery of their wondrous voices and song prepared for the Baroness, he starts to reconsidered and becomes charmed. Yes, because nothing says charming like terrifying marionettes singing “The Lonely Goatherd.”
(And all the children in the cinema screamed asking for their parents who were now turned into marionettes)
The children and Maria insist that their father sing, but he is reluctant at first. This leads to the ever beautiful “Edelweiss,” reminding him of days gone by and the former love of his life that has gone away.
This gets the Baroness’ Austrian version of a Southern gay friend Max Detweiler (Richard Hadyn) to think the would be perfect to sing at the Salzburg festival as (say it with me now) “THE VON TRAPP FAMILY SINGERS!,” but Georg is immediately against the idea of exploiting his family.
Later that evening at the Captain’s banquet to the Baroness (someone really wants to get at it), Maria is teaching Kurt how to dance the Landler along with the other children. Georg see this lesson and decides to cut in.
At last, a slow embrace is had with the beautiful Julie Andrews in soft focus as she pulls away confused about her feeling. Christopher Plummer, on the other hand, is once again giving the best “Oh shit” face in cinema, this time for the sake of admiration.
Soon after, the children are headed off to bed with the classic song “So Long, Farewell,” a song encouraging getting one’s ass kicked out of the room.
Maria heads to her room and engages in conversation with the Baroness who sees the attraction between Georg and Maria. She convinces Maria to jet out of the von Trapp’s lives and heads off to the abbey. Maria packs up and goes leading to…
Film A Week will return after these messages
Now back to the review
With Maria out of the way, the Baroness and Georg finally announce their engagement. The children have other plans however as they wish to see Maria at the abbey to tell her how much they miss her. Maria, still confused on her feelings, talks to Mother Abbess as she sings “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” encouraging Maria to go on and enjoy her new life.
Maria returns singing a reprise of “My Favorite Things” with the children much to Georg’s surprise. Maria decides to be a governess again just in case another decides to step in. Georg is still sure of his feeling that he meets up with Maria in the gazebo in a beautiful romantic display of admiration with the song “Something Good.”
It’s passionate, filled with love with great lighting from the background and shows the chemistry between Maria and Georg.
Georg calls off the engagement and decides to marry Maria instead after his declaration of love.
The marriage goes off without a hitch with the von Trapp children finally have a mother and Maria is finally happy. And thus, the film comes to a dramatic end.
Wait, weren’t there Nazis in this?
As Georg and Maria are off on Honeymoon, Max is helping the children rehearse for the Salzburg Music Festival without Georg’s permission, but of course, Austria has to get annexed under the Third Reich in the Anschluss (damn, history taking its course).
The second act starts to go grim with mostly nothing but reprises of song during the first act to help with the dramatic shift in tone. Maria is no longer the concerned governess, but a concerned mother. Georg refuses to give into the Third Reich’s reign for being a proud Austrian, Lisel’s main squeeze Rolfe is now part of the Nazis (that dumbass prick) and newly appointed gauleiter for the Nazis Herr Zeller (Ben Wright) wants to Georg to serve them as part of the German Navy. Georg, being the strong Austrian he is, says the family must escape that very night, yet once the plan is in effect, they are spotted. Georg says they are performing at the Salzburg Festival as part of the contest and are lead there by the Nazis.
The performance is filled with the song “Do-Re-Mi” in a much sobering tone with the children fearing for their lives practically. After this performance, Georg takes center stage to sing “Edelweiss” in possibly the most tear-jerking moment of the film, showing his love and strength in the hour of defeat with his fellow Austrians participating.
The moment shifts as the von Trapp family singing “So Long, Farewell” for what may be there final time singing on a stage. As they leave, the judges make the decisions, the choose the von Trapp family singers as the winners, but…
The von Trapp escape during the performance and are hiding in the cemetery of the abbey where they encounter the Nazis looking for them. Georg and Maria try everything in their power with Georg coming face to face with Rolfe who threatens to shoot him dead. Georg gets him to stop and tries to convince him to join them. Rolfe, being the dick he is now, asks for assistance as the von Trapp escape in a car and beat the Nazis to hike over the Alps and onward to start a new and free life.
At last, that was The Sound of Music and what does one say about this feature that hasn’t already said. The Sound of Music is the definition of a classic musical and boarders on being an epic.
The acting is top notch with Andrews portraying both an innocence and strong young woman to a caring and wise mother. Plummer creates a noble and brave man in Georg who still worries and is sympathetic. The von Trapp children are pretty fine themselves with Charmain Carr as Lisel being the standout in a charming performance with charisma all her own. The actors and actresses were at the top of their game.
The story itself is compelling using its songs wisely and weaving them into the plot to further the pivotal scenes. The strongest point demonstrating this is both times Georg sings “Edelweiss.” Bill Lee, the singer who ghosted for Plummer, lets his heart out and gives a beautiful moment with compassion in the first act and a somber tone in the reprise that tugs at the heartstrings by showing Georg’s love for his family and country is endless.
The songs are timeless with Rogers and Hammerstein doing their finest work from the classic opener “The Sound of Music” to the charmingly delightful “Do-Re-Mi” to the light hearted (and nightmare fuel filled) “The Lonely Goatherd.” It helps that director Robert Wise directs with a keen eye for performance and spectacle that is fascinating and engages the audience. Two key moments include the infamous gazebo, first with the thrilling dance during “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” and the romantic beauty of “Something Good.” The direction of Wise is key with his sights making a larger than life story even greater than what it already is.
Overall, The Sound of Music combines the thrills of human drama, the comedy of life and the wonder of song to make a classic for the ages. Bet you probably knew that already.
This weekend, Film A Week Part II decides to venture to darker territory without light hearted wonders of music numbers to guide it. Enter the terrifying dystopian future of 2018 were the global economy has failed, all cultural activity has been censored by the Toltitarian government and game shows involving convicted killers rule the airwaves, with the most popular being The Running Man. Yet, one man intends to bring justice and freedom to us all. That man is finally being entered into Film A Week history and his name is…Arnold Schwarzenegger.
FILM A WEEK PART II, Week 2: The Running Man (1987)
Saturday, May 31st at SergBeret.com
Stinger of the Week