Internet InfoMedia on this day in history march 2 1965 the sound of music debuts in american movie theaters

“The Sound of Music” echoed throughout American movie theaters for the first time on this day in history, March 2, 1965. 

It remains among America’s favorite things some 60 years later. 

The film’s soaring tunes painted idyllic images of Alpine hills flowering with snow-white edelweiss against a backdrop of the terrifying darkness of Nazism. 

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The Hollywood version of the real life-inspired tale of Austria’s Von Trapp Family singers on the eve of World War II has become an enduring entry in American moviecraft, while inspiring audiences around the world for nearly 60 years.

“The Robert Wise production is a warmly pulsating, captivating drama set to the most imaginative use of the lilting Rodgers and Hammerstein tunes,” Variety wrote in a contemporary review published the day of the debut. 

Julie Andrews as Maria Von Trapp

Julie Andrews portrayed Maria von Trapp in a scene from the popular movie musical of 1965, “The Sound of Music.” The real-life Maria and Baron Von Trapp escaped Nazi Austria and landed in Stowe, Vermont, because the mountain climate reminded them of the Alps. Their son Johannes Von Trapp runs Von Trapp Brewing in Stowe. (Getty Images)

The movie, Variety added, is “magnificently mounted and with a brilliant cast headed by Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, which must strike a respondent chord at the box office.” 

“The Sound of Music” debuted as a limited release in a handful of American theaters. 

It quickly proved a popular sensation. 

“The Robert Wise production is a warmly pulsating, captivating drama.” — Variety magazine, 1965

By the end of the year, it had surpassed “Gone With the Wind” as the top-grossing movie in American history (since surpassed by several films). 

It was the first movie to top $100 million in sales and would set box-office records in dozens of nations around the world. 

“Its success was way, way beyond what anyone involved imagined,” AVClub.com proclaimed in 2019.

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“It remained in theaters for four-and-a-half years. More than a decade after its release, ABC paid $15 million — nearly twice the movie’s budget — to show ‘The Sound Of Music’ on TV once. And it’s still making money.”

The movie netted $158 million domestically, and $286 million globally, on a budget of $8 million, according to industry data. 

It won five Academy Awards in 1966, including Best Sound, Best Music and Best Picture. 

"The Sound of Music" promo

A poster for the British release of Robert Wise’s 1965 musical, “The Sound of Music,” starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.  (Movie Poster Image Art/Getty Images)

Andrews was nominated for Best Actress for her cultural touchstone role as Maria, the nun who falls in love with Austrian naval captain Baron Georg Von Trapp (Plummer). 

She lost the Oscar to British actress Julie Christie for the latter’s performance in the 1965 drama “Darling.” 

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“For millions of people, the film is the rare combination of a powerful and moving story, first-rate music and breathtaking scenery of Salzburg,” says Sound-of-Music.com, published by Panorama Tours of Salzburg.

The movie was filmed in both Los Angeles and Salzburg, a scenic mountainside city wedged against the border of Bavaria, Germany. 

Landmarks in the historic old Austrian city feature prominently in the movie.

“When the Nazis annexed Austria in 1938, the Von Trapps realized that they were on thin ice with a regime they abhorred.” — Prologue Magazine

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