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A Pictorial History of the Movies: 1965 – The Sound of Music

If a film becomes the highest grossing movie of all time upon its release, there’s a really good chance it’s going to be the choice for most definitive film of the year.

I don’t see how anyone goes with any other film except The Sound of Music as being the one that best represents 1965.

This was the biggest movie in the world in 1965. Everyone saw it. Everyone continued to see it. It’s one of the most famous and iconic movies ever made, despite how schmaltzy it is and how even its star looks back on it with disgust.

You can rattle off at least a half a dozen memorable musical numbers from this movie. There’s absolutely no argument against this being the film of 1965.

I don’t have anything else to say about the choice, so I’ll just tell some random bits of trivia about the film.

Robert Wise actually turned this film down, originally. Why? “Too saccharine.” Then they got William Wyler, who, despite hearing loss and being unable to appreciate the music, was told by the producer of an earlier film about the Von Trapps “this cannot fail.” He saw Julie Andrews in My Fair Lady on Broadway (there’s a story, about her and that movie), and then saw some dailies from Mary Poppins and said, “She’s our Maria.”

But then, as he started prepping the film, he realized his heart wasn’t in it, and withdrew. So he went on to direct The Collector instead, with Terrence Stamp. Ironically, he would also be nominated for Best Director this year and lose to Robert Wise. I love Hollywood stories like this. Only in this era did things like this happen. Like when all the directors who worked on Gone With the Wind and weren’t credited were also nominated for Best Director that same year for other movies. Anyway, Robert Wise was readying The Sand Pebbles, but production got delayed, so he agreed to make this.

This film also helped save 20th Century Fox. They lose so much money on Cleopatra, that they were in danger of going bankrupt. And this film becoming the highest grossing movie of all time allowed them to keep going.

What’s interesting is that, when this film came out, it got pretty mixed reviews. People were divided between feeling it was great and feeling it was too sugar-coated for what actually happened in history. Which is something that’s still a critique of the film. But, even so, it won all the Oscars. (I’m guessing because Doctor Zhivago was too much, too soon after Lawrence of Arabia.) But if there’s one thing we know about the Academy, they eat shit like this right up. So it’s no surprise that this ultimately won, despite the sugar coating of World War II.

Either way, it’s an iconic film, and still represents 1965 in every single aspect. So it’s got to be the choice.

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