The film adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein's beloved musical "The Sound of Music" celebrated its 50th anniversary release this year. We offer readers this exclusive photo tour, including rare images that capture the behind-the-scenes magic on location, in the studio, on set and more.
This is from the era where they pre-recorded everything in the studio at Fox in Los Angeles before they went to Salzburg. So everything you see on screen is lip-synched. They pre-recorded all of it. Julie Andrews is impeccable in her lip-syncing on this film.
Here Julie is in the booth. She's recording "The Sound of Music" here. You can see the chart.
Here's [arranger and conductor] Irwin Kostal conducting and Julie with the orchestra and a "Do Not Open This Door" sign clearly in the background. There aren't a lot of shots where you see Irwin Kostal as clearly as this. There's [associate producer] Saul Chaplin right next to Julie. This is Julie singing the song with the orchestra before she records it in the booth. And there's a woman playing the violin in the orchestra - very rare for this day and age.
Look at all the kids in the booth! This is funny. This shows more children than there are in the film because they had some "ringers" in for the recording, including Charmian's sister Darlene. They brought them in to sweeten the sound. There are a couple kids here who aren't all Von Trapp children.
There are a lot of these amazing photographs. We've often asked Fox if they did these kinds of behind-the-scenes shots for every film, or if there was something about "The Sound of Music" that they felt was special.
This is from the scene when Julie and the kids go over the side of the boat. The story that's told time and time again is that Kym Karath couldn't swim. But for the shot that's in the movie, she falls out of the other side of the boat and somebody grabbed her very quickly.
Ted McCord, who was the cinematographer on the movie, was not nominated for an Academy Award for this movie. I think as time has gone on, and frankly, as the film has been cleaned up for DVD/Blu-ray, people are really aware of his extraordinary work. In the helicopter opening shot of Julie, it's a very bright day – the sun is out – but if you watch, you'll notice that it cuts away when she starts to twirl and then, when it cuts back to her finishing the twirl, it's a very gray day. But you're not really aware of it. Then quickly you're into another shot that's a better day. The continuity makes you feel as if everything was fine with the weather when it actually wasn't.
Also, according to the new book that Tom Santopietro has done ["The Sound of Music Story"], they had to do both helicopter shots on the same day: Which meant shooting Julie at the beginning and then the entire family walking over the mountain at the end. They could only afford the helicopter for a day, so they had to use it sparingly and well.
What's interesting about this song ["I Have Confidence"], Hammerstein was no longer alive, so Rodgers had the right to write any new songs if the movie company wanted that, which is a pretty standard thing. So, they asked for the song "Something Good," which he wrote, and then "I Have Confidence." He wrote only about 32 bars of "I Have Confidence." Then Saul Chaplin, who himself was a songwriter, and Earnest Lehman, who had worked on a lot of musicals, had more of an idea for the song. They wanted it to be used as a travel song, so they needed more of it. It's in Chaplin's autobiography where he explains how they structured it.
Apparently Rodgers didn't seem all that interested, so he told them, "If you want to, write it out as the way you want it. Just let me know." So they took music from unused portions of the song and restructured it. They played it for Rodgers and he basically said, "I prefer it my way. But if you want to do it that way, that's okay." So even though the ownership of it is Richard Rodgers, there were other hands in the creation of it.
Also, it's a really good song for the movie. Stage productions tend to want to put it on stage, but I've never seen it really work on stage. There's magic you can do on film. You can cut to Maria from Mother Abbess, to her costume change, to her on the bus, to her on the street and end with her right in front of the Von Trapp villa.
But on stage, she has to change clothes. Then, to the extent that you possibly can, you have to build to the moment of seeing the Von Trapp house, and it's got to be breathtaking, and it rarely is that kind of breathtaking as it is in the film.
This shot isn't often used. This is Julie looking through the gate during "I Have Confidence."
That's Peggy Wood sitting with Julie, and that's Julie's daughter Emma, who was with her in Salzburg the entire time they were filming. Look at the look on mom's face.
Film shoots are the most boring things you have ever witness in your life. There's lots of downtime for the actors. This is Duane Chase, who played Kurt.
Here's one of Kym Karath and Charmian Carr.
The film's costumes were by Dorothy Jeakins, who was a reigning costumer. Part of why they do these slates is for color and continuity throughout filming. Sometimes they have to make another costume for a double or if something gets lost.
This is in the studio at Fox. Charmian slipped and cut her leg during filming of this scene. You can't tell from this shot whether she has a bandage on it or not. You could see it before in certain prints, but I believe they've erased it in the recent prints of the film.
They were supposed to be in Salzburg for about a month, but the weather was so terrible that they stayed longer. Part of it the problem was that the budget was tight on this film because Fox was in trouble, so there was big pressure to get them home.
Here are three of the kids at the fruit stand. What's interesting here is the Jaffa Oranges crate. It's a product of Israel. Of course, Israel wasn't a state when this movie takes place, so that's a funny shot because it's not accurate. You don't see that in the film, but this is the publicity shot.
I believe this is the Hollywood premiere. There was also a New York premiere. But Hollywood was still the best.
I know that the last shot of the film was "Something Good"... after they came back from Salzburg. The story is that Julie and Christopher Plummer broke each other up, so that's why they're filmed in silhouette. Director Robert Wise said, "Let me film you in silhouette so that nobody can see that you're giggling." Julie has said, in the only way that Julie Andrews can say it, that the lights on set were "emitting raspberries," but basically that the lights were farting, which made them giggle even more.
Here's another of Robert Wise and kids in curtain dresses.
This is a great shot I've never seen. This is them dancing around the fountain in Mirabell Palace with them all in the air. This is that great scene in "Do Re Mi" where they dance around the fountain and then come forward. That's really cool.
Here's Robert Wise adjusting Kym Karath. This is the scene inside where they're singing "The Sound of Music" to the captain.
This is a cool shot on the terrace with the camera and all the crew people. There aren't many shots that show you just how many people there are hanging around set as this shot shows. That's of course, "Do Re Mi."
Here's Julie with her wedding dress and the nuns. This is probably on location, because I believe they filmed the whole wedding at Mondsee Cathedral, which is on the tour when you go to Salzburg.
Here's Julie and the kids in rehearsal clothes in the wagon. This is probably them rehearsing in L.A. because "Do Re Mi" is such a complicated number, I think it was sequenced before they went overseas. It's unlikely they would have planned something like this when they were on location.
Here are the kids in their uniforms looking tired. This must be the end of the day!
This is the stream that they had to create. This is a fabrication of Hollywood. The farmer was so angry that he pitch-forked the plastic bottom of the stream and it drained so they had to re-do it.
And, of course, this is the moment with the lyric that is different in the show than the movie. The difference of one letter changes the meaning. Mary Martin in the original sings, "To laugh like a brook when it trips and falls over stones in its way."
And Julie sings, "To laugh like a brook when it trips and falls over stones on its way." So this is a shot of "on it's way." In my research, "in its way" is correct. In some of the original material it became "on its way" and Hammerstein was gone by the time they shot the film.
This is stunning. This is at the church in Mondsee. What's interesting is that the church is not that big. I am just amazed when I have a reason to look at this movie again and again just how brilliantly made it was. Because for the wedding procession they basically keep going back with the camera and following different people so it looks endless. And the big overhead shot where you see her coming down the aisle is about as big as it's going to get.
Here's a contemplative Julie. This is the very end. If you look over on the right you can see some crew. I believe this is "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" at the end.
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