Showing posts with label film. Show all posts
Showing posts with label film. Show all posts

Friday, June 20, 2014

Favorite Things Friday || Something Good: Von Trapp Series Part 3

So far In this series I've written about my, hmm, appreciation I guess, of the German language and about my own personal history involving The Sound of Music. This week I think I'll go back about thirty or forty years for last weeks post and talk about the 1965 film of The Sound of Music and how it came to exist.

A lot of people who have seen The Sound of Music film know that it was based off of the 1959 Broadway musical of the same name. There are differences between the two, many of which I mentioned in my four part review of NBC’s recent telecast of The Sound of Music Live starring Carrie Underwood.

The major difference is song order. Mainly, My Favorite Things and Lonely Goatherd. In the play Reverend Mother sings My Favorite Things with Maria before she leaves for the von Trapps and Maria sings Lonely Goatherd to the children during the Thunderstorm. There are also a couple of songs from the Broadway show that were not included in the film and a couple of songs included in the film that were not in the play. The songs from the film are I Have Confidence and Something Good. 

Oscar Hammerstein died in 1960, about 4 years before film production began. When they scored (placed the songs in) the film there were a couple of spots where it was felt new songs were needed so Richard Rodgers wrote both the music and lyrics for I Have Confidence and Something Good. 

In 1956, nine years before the film and three before the play, a German studio released Die Trapp Familie followed by Die Trapp Familie in Amerika (1958) which is the original work based on Maria von Trapp's book The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. The German films cover events in the von Trapps lives from Maria leaving the abbey, similar to the 1965 film, and then all the way up through the family leaving Austria, being detained on Ellis Island, and up to purchasing a house in Vermont.  I have only seen the very condensed American version of the film, dubbed in English and entitled The Trapp Family. This was actually the film Mary Martin had seen when she approached Rodgers and Hammerstein with the idea of making a musical play about the lives of the von Trapp Family Singers.




Monday, June 16, 2014

Favorite Things Friday || Do - Re - Mi...or, um, Me?: Von Trapp Series Part 2

have been having trouble deciding how exactly  to approach this second part. So, we'll see how this turns out.

Let me take you back in time, not to January 26, 1905 when a baby named Maria Kutschera was born, not to Salzburg, Austria in "The Last Golden Days of the 30s” where director Robert Wise transports people every time they watch his film. Let me take you to the early 90s in my grandmother's living room. I sat on her blue carpet and stared at the television as scenes of the Austrian Alps panned across the screen and birds chirped. My three year old self was mesmerized for the full two and a half hours! 

By age four I was so in love with the movie that my family decided to go camping in Stowe, Vermont and visit the Trapp Family Lodge gift shop while we were there. That was when I found out the von Trapps were a real family. I didn't know much about this real family. I assumed it was the family from the movie. Of course I didn't know what Austria was either, so I assumed they filmed the movie in Vermont. While looking out my car window at the mountains, trees, and streams I announced from my booster seat, "I can see where they made the start of the movie!" I still remember my parents laughing! 

My supposedly childhood obsession went so far that I argued with my mother to let me wear a gray (and pink) jumper dress to get family pictures taken because I thought it looked like the sailor outfits that the children wear in the movie!

Well, after four I turned five, and was "practically a lady." Still watching the movie whenever I visited my grandmother. During the wedding scene I would rush to the guest bedroom and grab a vase of plastic daisies for my bouquet and placed the doily they sat on onto the top of my head. 

Age six I tried to read Maria by Maria von Trapp. It was too difficult for me to understand then, but I think I finally read it through around age 12. I received as gifts over the years a Maria von Trapp Barbie, the cassette tape soundtrack, and years later the CD. In the course of about 10 years I got the two video cassette version of the movie twice, after losing one of the tape from each set I was given the  digitally remastered film on one cassette tape. Later on the picture started to jump on the concert scene because the tape was getting so worn out. In 2005 I bought the 40th Anniversary DVD. Not to mention the the vinyl record soundtrack and numerous books and biographies I have all relating to the film!


Eventually I finally turned "Sixteen Going on Seventeen." It seemed like I had waited forever for that to happen. It was so memorable when it finally did. I was in the chorus of the play play Hello Dolly at my high school and hadn't been feeling well all day. I rested on a couch in the green room while the overture started and debated whether or not I should go on stage. At the last minute I rushed out and found my mark in the dark just as the curtain was opening! I had a headache and the lights only made it worse. Plus, I was sweating way more than what the stage lights usually made me sweat. I made it to the intermission and went home. I had a fever and the next morning I woke up with pink eye! Such a gross but memorable sixteenth birthday! 

Sometime in 2008 I had a pretty exciting day pertaining my Sound of Music fandom. I actually got to meet Julie Andrews! I went to Boston because she was going to be doing a book signing of her autobiography. I purchased the book, found the room where the book signing would be held and then was told I needed to have a ticket and they had already given away all three hundred. I was so disappointed and my mother was annoyed that they failed to mention that detail on the website. 

We struck up a conversation with another girl in the same situation as me and somehow we found out that two books could be signed per ticket. Normally I'm pretty shy and quiet but I started weaving back and forth between bookshelves calling out, "Is anyone getting just one book signed?" I found two women who were friends, each had a ticket and just one book! I asked if I could run and get the girl I'd been talking to and share a ticket with her. They were more than happy to share a ticket with us!!! 

I waited in line as it slowly moved closer and closer to the table where Julie Andrews was signing each book. Finally I was there. I had no idea what to say. Suddenly I heard myself telling Julie Andrews that I saw the Sound of Music for the first time at age three. She said, "Three?!" I also mentioned that I wanted to major in Musical Theatre in college. Then, I asked if I could give her a hug. (I had sort of made this deal with myself a few years before that whenever I was able to meet any classic film, or music stars that I would ask for a hug.) Julie Andrews replied with, "Well, I have all these people..." So I quickly asked, "could I shake your hand then." She smiled and put her hand out. Then she leaned back in her chair and looked at the man standing beside her and asked, "Doesn't she look like Annie Hathaway?" I covered my hand with my mouth in surprise and said, "A lot of people have told me that!" She smiled and that was it, we were moved on through the line. It was such a fun moment!

Well, I guess that's it for my personal Sound of Music related stories. Sorry it took a couple of days to get this post up. I had expected to post it yesterday but was a little preoccupied with a stray kitten that decided to visit on Saturday. We took her in for the night and brought her to the shelter today. She is such a beautiful cat!


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Favorite Things Friday || Carrie Underwood Sound of Music Review Part 4

Edit:
Last Friday  I made a horrible mistake and said there were 5 von Trapp boys and 2 girls. Scratch that reverse it. For someone who has been a fan of all things von Trapp for over 20 years, that was a doozy. There are in fact two boys, five girls. Still...boys should not wear floral lederhosen. Ever.

There were a few other mistakes, I'm sure. I will try my best with proof reading this week!

Actors, Singers, and Dancers

NBC's Sound of Music Live, as a whole was very entertaining and full of talent. While Carrie Underwood is very much a singer without as much legitimate theatre experience as many of her co-stars, I feel like she tackled the leading role of Maria very well considering that Julie Andrews' portrayal is SO well known and Carrie certainly had some big shoes to fill. 



I think the performance I enjoyed the most was Laura Benanti as Baroness Schraeder. She delivered her lines believably and is definitely a talented singer. I think that, although her background is in theater, she was able to tone down the bigness of theatre expressions which definitely worked in her favor for a live television production. Coincidently, Ms. Benanti understudied and then starred in the 1998 Broadway revival of The Sound of Music as Maria von Trapp.

Tony award winner Audra McDonald was wonderful as Mother Abbess. Unfortunately she received some negative tweets about her race and the role she was playing. True, the Reverend Mother during Maria's time at Nonnberg Abbey was not black, but this play is someone's representation of those events. None of it was 100% authentic but that didn't really effect Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse's story or Rodger's and Hammerstein's songs. This was The Sound of Music, not South Pacific.



People sounding like they were switching in and out of accents was something that bothered me quite a bit. When an actor is going from speaking in a character accent to sounding like their self, essentially they aren't staying in character. On the subject of accents, Admiral von Schrieber was one of the only characters with a German accent. This seems unnecessary and in fact rather cartoony, giving the villain a thick "foreign" accent compared to the rest of the cast. 

At the very end I was a little confused by the second Bible verse that Reverend Mother quoted. Of course the first was Psalm 121:1 which is quoted in the 1965 film version. The next verse quoted on Sound of Music Live was part of Isaiah 55:12 "For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing." I'm not sure if this verse was quoted in the original Broadway production but it the words didn't really seem to fit the mood in the play at that moment.
When looked at in context to Isaiah 55:11-13 it makes a little more sense that a family of refugees doing what they feel to be God's will would be feeling peace. I don't think joy was being felt by the characters in the play or by the real von Trapps as they were leaving Austria. 

As much as I found "wrong" with this play I did enjoy being able to see The Sound of Music performed almost true to the original Broadway performance.
I would give the performance of the cast Sound of Music Live 4 out of 5 stars. This was live. They had one chance for everything. Some of the cast were not as experienced as others and I would venture to guess that the majority of viewers were comparing this to the 1965 film where actors were granted as many takes as necessary for scenes against a beautiful Austrian back drop. As a whole the cast and crew of Sound of Music Live did a great job with this massive musical undertaking. 

So Long Farewell
I was going to quote James Cagney as George M. Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy(1942) about his new play  titled Popularity. Mr. Cohan urges the audience to "Please, miss it." 

Now, I don't think NBC's Sound of Music should be missed, but appreciated for what it is. A live televised theatre production. It was done well, but to be enjoyed should not be compared with an on location film. Lastly, it should be remembered that Theatre and film can never rewrite the true story of the von Trapp Family.

Thank you so much for reading these reviews. I will admit they show more than a little bias toward the 1965 Sound of Music film in spots. In case you missed the others and would like to start at the very beginning, a very good place to start, they can be found via the links below.:





Friday, March 14, 2014

Favorite Things Friday || Carrie Underwood Sound of Music Review Part 3

  Just so readers are aware, I have not seen the original, complete, stage version of the Sound of Music. I have read 5 books by Maria von Trapp, Agathe von Trapp's book, and Die Trapp Familie, the German movie that the Broadway show was based on. Also, This review is going to have to be in multiple parts. I am not as concise as a professional critic, and I think I have a lot more knowledge on this subject than the average critic would have, so bear with me here. I want to share some things about Maria's books and "how it really happened" along with some insight into the German movie, what I do know of the original  Broadway show, the 1965 film, and tonight's televised production.

That was my intro to these reviews nearly 4 months ago. I've forgotten some of what I thought or felt about the relatively recent Sound of Music Production on NBC last December which starred Carrie Underwood. However, I did take notes which I lost after part 2 of 4 and finally found exactly 1 week ago. 

This new Favorite Things Friday series will first consist of the last three Sound of Music Reviews and after that will feature a few of my favorite things. There could be blogs, Etsy Shops, or things about classic movies, music, etc. You'll just have to wait and see! 

Let's get started on this review.
___________________________________________________

Costumes and Inevitable Comparisons

Something that really stood out to my musical loving mind while watching NBC's Sound of Music Live was the fact that Uncle Max looked incredibly like Rooster from Annie. That was all I could think of every. single. time. he. was. on. screen. I think if he had shaved the pencil mustache it would have improved his character portrayal 200%. The facial hair worked for Richard Haydn in the 1965 film but he also spoke with a British accent. Basically, American+pencil mustache = Rooster Hannigan. I shouldn't fret about it after all the sun will come out tomorrow.

(I will not speak about the head pieces of the singers behind Uncle Max)


The children's play clothes made me roll my eyes. Floral sprays for girls AND the boys. Let's not forget there were only two von Trapp girls and FIVE boys! Kurt looks very much like he's about to cry or throw up. While the gold/tan damask in the movie is not exactly masculine, it is a neutral color and it is not flowers!


 Gold costumes were used in the NBC television production in the scene where Maria teaches Kurt the Laendler. In fact both Maria, Kurt, and the set were the same exact gold, peach, and orange hues in that scene. It was hard to tell where the people ended and the walls began. Perhaps it was to hide the fact Carrie isn't so light on her feet? She did catch her heel on her shirt and fall during one of her concerts...

Another huge thing is the era. The costumes in NBC'S Sound of Music Live were very much mid to late 1940s style. Even the hair styles were from the 1940s, especially Liesl's. The actual real life von Trapps lived out these events beginning in the mid 1920s. Georg and Maria were married on November 26, 1927 and they left Austria in 1938. That said, the condensed era also makes the movie costumes slightly off style as well. I heard years ago, I think in a Christopher Plummer interview he mentioned that Dorothy Jeakins, the costume designer in the 1965 film said of the costumes she made, "If they weren't supposed to zip, they didn't zip." Watch the film again sometime and you'll notice there are no zippers on any of the dresses!

Jeakins' design of the wedding dress in the film was actually fairly similar to Maria von Trapp's own wedding dress. You can see some pictures of the two dresses over on the  Edelwiess Patterns Blog
Carrie Underwood's wedding dress in this television production followed suit, pun intended, with the other costumes and just looked way too modern.

I know someone must've worked hard on the costumes for NBC's Sound of Music Live but it just didn't appear a whole lot of thought was put into it pertaining to the era. It looked as if the few costumes that didn't copy style or color of film costumes were sewn together from some vintage 1940s patterns. Beautiful costumes, but they didn't quite fit even for "The last golden days of the thirties." Assuming the setting of play and film both take place at the same time. Costumes get just 1 out of 5 stars.