Who can ever forget that image of Julie Andrews spinning on the hills of Austria singing the title song in her stylish VonTrapp outfit? For those musical theater geeks, it is permanently etched in our minds and is hands down one of the most iconic musical films of all time.
Unless you have been totally deprived as a child or hidden under a rock, The Sound of Music journals the story of the singing VonTrapp family and their escape from Austria during the war.
Directed by Robert Wise (who passed away in 2005), who transformed West Side Story from Broadway to the silver screen, The Sound of Music boasted a cast of mostly unknown children (the exception being Angela Cartwright), Anna Lee (known to modern audiences as Lila Quartermaine on the ABC Soap General Hospital), Christopher Plummer and a cameo by Maria VonTrapp herself.
Nominated for 10 Oscars in 1966, the film walked away with Best Director, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Music and the top prize Best Picture. Andrews was nominated, however, the Academy snubbed Plummer.
This week a special will air on ABC with Diane Sawyer celebrating the film’s 50th Anniversary, which was also acknowledged this year with a full musical tribute on the 2015 Academy award telecast.
Below is the original trailer to The Sound of Music, the musical tribute sung by none other than Grammy winner Lady Gaga and NBC’s live version that starred Country Music star Carrie Underwood.
Reported by the Huffington Post and told by Julie Andrews, here are five stories you DIDN’T know about The Sound of Music
1. Julie Andrews was repeatedly thrown hard to the ground by a helicopter’s down draft as it passed too close while filmmakers tried to capture the iconic aerial scene. According to Andrews, “It approached me from one end of the field with a very brave cameraman hanging outside of it with his camera and no door. I came from the other end of the field and we approached each other. When we had achieved one take, the helicopter would go around me and go back to the beginning and I’d go back to the other end of the field and we’d do it again, but every time he went around me … the down draft from a very close helicopter just leveled me into the grass. That kept happening and I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t pull away and make a wider circle. I kind of signaled to him, “Could you try to do that,” after about four attempts. Every time I bit the dust and all I got was a thumbs up, and, “Let’s do one more. Great, great. You’re doing fine.”
2. The cast was given authentic Austrian schnapps by a farmer after a long day of shooting. (Christopher Plummer may have been drinking while filming parts of the movie.) “No, I’ll tell you exactly what happened. Learning the guitar and making sure that I got the fingering right — because it was in the camera’s face, as was I — and lip-syncing also, that was, you know, I’d never played the guitar before, but I learned. And then the schnapps was at the end of one day shooting — it wasn’t necessarily that one, but we were way up in the Alps on a really blustery cold day and the farmer made his own schnapps and very generously handed out a small measure to the people that were on the camera and to all of us. I tell you, for that one moment, we were so grateful because we were so cold. So I think those two rumors got melded into one story.”
3. Andrews was told at the last minute to fall forward during the boat scene in order to catch the youngest von Trapp child, who couldn’t swim. She fell backward and the young actress swallowed so much water she got sick. She was only about 5 years old. We were doing the boat scene where we all fall out of the boat and just as we were about to roll cameras … that’s when the assistant director came up to me and said, “I just want to ask you something. Could you fall forwards because the little one doesn’t swim? We’d like you to get to her as quickly as you can and we will be doing the same thing off-camera.” The boat rocked in such a way that instead of going forwards I went backwards. And there was such panic in my heart because that little girl had gone under a couple times, but everybody got to her, of course. She was very brave and she is with us today as we speak.”
4. Plummer and Andrews didn’t socialize much on the set because Plummer spent little time in Austria and Andrews had a newborn daughter. “I think [Plummer was] trying to be a bit of a curmudgeon. That’s his personality and he cultivates it. But in fact he’s a darling. And I think maybe [he was] a little nervous perhaps about doing a musical which he may not have done before. And then, you know he was a legitimate, wonderful Shakespearean actor and perhaps he thought that this might be a wrong choice. Of course it turned out to be a perfect one for all of us…In fact, he was not on the film that much in Austria, and we didn’t socialize while I was there because I was so busy and I had my new little daughter with me and I had to get up incredibly early. So there wasn’t much socializing in that sense.”
5. The real Maria von Trapp visited the set and appears as an extra. “She came and said hello to our director and to all of us. We were introduced. And I believe she said to me something like, “I’m glad you are playing her as a tomboy, because that’s the way I was when I was young.” A lot of people in Austria wear their traditional costumes and she came in hers and [Robert Wise] said, “Just go in the background and walk across as we’re shooting this shot.” She very sweetly did and so she’s in the movie.”