The Sound of Music, based on the Richard Rodgers-Oscar Hammerstein musical comedy satisfies nearly all the requirements for what moviemakers tout as wholesome family entertainment. It is tuneful, cheerful and colorfulexquisitely filmed in the Tyrolean Alps of Austria. It celebrates couragethe real-life daring of the Trapp Family Singers, who fled the Nazis in 1938. Though Director Robert Wise (West Side Story) has made capital of the show's virtues, he can do little to disguise its faults. In dialogue, song and story, Music still contains too much sugar, too little spice.
Asked why she has played hooky from the convent to go singing through mountain meadows, the bob-haired young novice Maria (Julie Andrews) explains: "The sky was so blue, and the day was so green and fragrant, I just had to be a part of it!" In response, a chorus of nuns wreathed in beatific smiles lift their voices to chant:
How do you solve a problem like
How do you hold a moonbeam in
Soon the mother abbess (Peggy Wood) finds a solution. She sends the moonbeam off to shine as governess for Captain von Trapp (Christopher Plummer, slickly miscast), a widower who shares his palatial Schloss with seven troublesome but more or less irresistible children. Appalled by the captain's ironfisted discipline, Maria coddles the youngsters. One stormy eve she packs them all into bed with her, quieting their fears with some doughty Hammerstein stanzas. Eventually she teaches them to sing, captivates their father and marries him. Together they lead their septet across the border to Switzerland, with storm troopers baying in the wings.
True or not, such gemütlich heart tugs make a Lehar operetta seem grimly realistic by comparison. Viewers who want a movie to swell around them in big warm blobs will find Sound of Music easy to take. Sterner types may resist at the outset, but are apt to loosen up after a buoyant, heels-in-the-air song or two by Julie Andrews. Seconding her perky triumph as Mary Poppins, Julie turns every number into a bell ringer, and gives the comedy its zestiest scene when she punctures her employer's vincible mettle with a few white-hot verbal thrusts. As a footnote to Julie's new success, the film offers a wry bit of casting: one minor character, Sister Sophia, is played by Marni Nixon, who dubbed in some of Audrey Hepburn's songs in My Fair Lady.