The film The Sound of Music celebrated its fiftieth anniversary on March 2, so this year, fans everywhere have had a variety of opportunities to indulge in their favorite movie in new ways. From a feature spread in Vanity Fair to an ABC television special, lots of people want to get in on the action and celebrate this movie. Tom Santopietro’s new release, The Sound of Music Story, is my latest discovery in my quest to feed my love for all things Sound of Music. Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley, I had a chance to read an advance copy.
This book is a treat for anyone who loves the movie or enjoys Hollywood history. Santopietro begins with a brief background on the real-life von Trapp family and the German film Die Trapp-Familie. He moves through the production of the American stage musical with Rogers and Hammerstein, the search for a studio to produce the film, and then finding the perfect cast and crew. There are details galore about the filming, and then Santopietro moves into the movie’s critical and popular reception. He covers the awards season, the effects of the movie on the future careers of the major players involved, and he includes a chapter on the ways that The Sound of Music has integrated itself into our culture.
I loved reading about the filming. The costuming and choreographing chapters were probably my favorites. Evidently, Julie Andrews told an interviewer that she had never felt more beautiful than the day she wore her iconic Maria von Trapp wedding dress. Kym Karath, who played Gretl, couldn’t swim and nearly drowned filming the scene where Maria and the kids tip over their boat. Attempts to dye Nicholas Hammond’s (Friedrich) hair blond for filming went so badly awry that he wound up with practically white hair and a severely blistered scalp. This behind-the-scenes information was all great fun to me.
There were a few places where this book felt a little dry. As much as I adore the movie, I struggled a bit through a few chapters that detailed the selection of the film’s production crew. Someone who is a Hollywood buff would probably have appreciated all the references to big names and big films of the day, but a lot of it went over my head. Also, the last third of the book all felt like conclusion – it was slightly repetitive.
Some fun new facts I learned from this read:
- The Sound of Music’s first run in movie theaters lasted five years and nine months. That seems UNREAL, especially living in a day where a films come and go from the theater in a matter of weeks.
- The statistics show that in Salt Lake City, more than half a million admission tickets were purchased for The Sound of Music – that is more than three times the local population.
- According to the information Santopietro gathered about Austria’s tourism industry, one in three people who visit Austria “journey there specifically because of The Sound of Music.” It’s hard to even wrap my brain around that. But if you’ve got a moment and want to watch the first minute or so of that ABC special, there are some hilarious clips of tourists trying (and sometimes failing) to reenact their favorite scenes from the movie.
The Sound of Music will always be special to me, but I don’t think I fully understood how many other people feel the same way until I read this book. I definitely recommend it to anyone who is a fellow fan.