Ability over Appearance: Though not impossible, Audra McDonald's Colorblind Casting is unlikely, to say the least. But the fact that she is Audra McDonald — a six-time Tony winner and certified Broadway legend — completely wipes away anything so purely trivial as her skin color.
Adored by the Network: ABC frequently airs the movie at Christmastime or Easter, with NBC also airing their version in December. The musical has nothing to do with either holidaynote On the other hand, "My Favorite Things" has often been used as a Christmas song., but its family-friendly qualities make it easily viewable at the gatherings that typically take place at both times.
All-Star Cast: Averted, at least at the time of filming, for the film version; Peggy Wood, who had starred in I Remember Mama, was probably the best-known actor of the main cast. Eleanor Parker and Richard Hadyn were also names recognizable to die-hard Hollywood fans, but were far from the mainstream. Julie Andrews was known by Broadway fans but practically nobody else (Mary Poppins had yet to be released), and Christopher Plummer was primarily a theatre actor at the time.
A bandage can be seen in earlier editions during the gazebo scene. This is because Charmian Carr injured her ankle while filming it and performed the dance with a bandage on. Later remastered versions have digitally removed the bandage.
For a couple of shots during "The Lonely Goatherd" Marta can be seen with the children controlling the puppets, rather than in her position at the bottom of the stage controlling the backdrops.
Bowdlerize: The French dub removed the renditions of "Maria" and "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" sung by the nuns as they thought it was sinful for nuns to be singing non-religious songs. As such only the reprisals of them were heard. And the subtitles don't show the lyrics to them. Only on TV broadcasts. The Home Video releases (at least the VHS ones) have these two songs dubbed.
Creator Backlash: Christopher Plummer was reportedly not particularly proud of his role. He felt Captain Von Trapp was a giant bore, and the the film was "awful and sentimental and gooey", once referring to it as "The Sound of Mucus". In recent years, his stance on the film itself has softened a little, but he still feels annoyed that he's frequently associated with this film, as he has an impressive body of work.
Liesl sings a whole song about how she's "sixteen, going on seventeen," but Charmian Carr was 21 at the time. When Liesl states that she's too old for a governess, she certainly looks it.
Maria is supposed to be 22, but she's played by the 30-year-old Julie Andrews.
Maria is supposed to be 22, but was played by 45-year-old Mary Martin in the original Broadway cast!
Deleted Scene: Pictures and script pages exist for an appearance by Rolf in the Salzburg montage. Liesl tries to invite him to their picnic, but he responds, "Picnics are for children", then insults her Curtain Clothing. Rolf also meets Maria, who refers to herself as, "Liesl's friend", as opposed to her governess.
Dyeing for Your Art: Nicholas Hammond is a natural brunet and had to undergo several painful bleachings to become blond.
Christopher Plummer disliked working on the film and isolated himself from the child actors, playing into the stern relationship the Captain has with his children. However, he has mellowed significantly; he and Charmian Carr got on wonderfully well, Julie Andrews counts him among her closest friends and he has come out and said that the first time he sat down to watch the film, he realized it was the greatest cinematic adaptation of a stage musical ever produced.
The scene where the Captain embraces music again and sings with his children was the last to be shot. Since the actors were sad about parting, their tears are real.
Fake Shemp: For the final scene where the family are hiking over the mountain, it's not actually Kym Karath playing Gretel. She had gained a lot of weight while in Switzerland and was too heavy for Christopher Plummer to carry, so a double was used.
I Am Not Spock: Julie Andrews went to great lengths to avoid this. Charmian Carr, on the other hand, has embraced it, writing a memoir of the film/autobiography called Forever Liesl that's a great favorite among film fans. Nicholas Hammond did avoid it, mostly by going to Australia and becoming quite a popular actor there. (He also played Spider-Man.)
Peggy Wood's vocals had to be dubbed for "Climb Every Mountain".
Christopher Plummer recorded his own vocals, but later decided he wasn't good enough to sing alongside Julie Andrews. Thus he's dubbed by Bill Lee.
Kurt's high note during the first "So Long, Farewell" is done by Darlene Carr, little sister of Charmian Carr.
Four additional singers were used to produce a harmonised effect for whenever the children sing. However all seven actors do sing every number. The only time the additional voices aren't used is when they're singing for the Baroness.
One Steve Limit: In real life, one of Captain von Trapp's daughters was also named Maria; in the musical, she becomes a Louisa instead.
Christopher Plummer was 35 at the time of filming (12-ish years younger than his character was in Real Life at the time the story is set), with his oldest daughter played by a 21-year-old actress (playing 16...going on 17).
Rolf is a year older than Liesel at least. Daniel Truhitte was ten months younger than Charmian Carr.
The movie shares one director (Robert Wise), a screenwriter (Ernest Lehman), an associate producer (Saul Chaplin), and a musical director (Irwin Kostal) with the West Side Story adaptation, released four years before TSoM hit the big screen. Before either of those, Lehman wrote the screenplays for the film version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King and I, and two other movies Wise directed — Executive Suite and Somebody Up There Likes Me.
TSoM also shares a lead actress (Julie Andrews), musical director (Irwin Kostal), and one choreographer (Dee Dee Wood) with Mary Poppins. Bonus points for Kostal serving as the musical director for the TV special Julie and Carol at Carnegie Hall.
Wise, Chapman, and Andrews would later collaborate again for Star!
Reverend Mother is facing out the window when "Climb Every Mountain" starts because Peggy Wood was having trouble syncing her mouth with the pre-recorded track. She was able to sync it fine once she got into the song, but continued to have trouble with the first lines. As such she faces away from the camera to give her time to get it. The director felt that Reverend Mother facing away from Maria added to the emotion of the song.
Nicholas Hammond (Friedrich) had the world's biggest crush on Julie Andrews, as he had seen her three years prior in her last night onstage in London as Eliza Doolittle. This is rather obvious in the film, especially in "The Lonely Goatherd" where Friedrich can be seen gazing lovingly at Maria.
Charmian Carr (Liesl) had "a huge crush" on Christopher Plummer, and the feeling was apparently mutual, though things never progressed beyond flirtation. Although she has admitted on the Oprah Winfrey Show's Sound of Music Reunion that he did indeed teach her how to drink.
The Captain was in the Austrian Navy. But wait, isn't Austria landlocked? It was in 1939 but not in 1914, when Austria owned Croatia and had a potent navy dominating the Adriatic Sea. The Captain was one of Austria-Hungary's most illustrious World War I heroes at sea. He commanded two submarines, the U-5 and U-14, and conducted 19 war patrols during which he sank 11 enemy merchantmen, captured a French armored cruiser and an Italian submarine, and was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Military Order of Maria Theresa.
The Maria Theresa order, by the way, is a partial example of this trope. According to legend you get that medal by succeeding in defiance of orders. That is amusing but only partly true. The medal is for "initiative" not disobedience - said initiative can (but is not required to) include initiative in disobediance of orders, extraordinary success being the justification. And it is true that such disobedience would probably lead to a court martial if the maneuver were less successful.
The whistles were real. RL Captain von Trapp had a weak voice. He did not however drill them as if they were in the navy. The family used the whistles to locate each other and communicate across their vast property. The whistles could be heard from one corner to the other, instead of spending hours hunting down a child. They used them as an effective method of communication up until their departure from the country.
Minor example. Charmian Carr (Liesel) admitted to having a crush on Christopher Plummer. He said the feeling was mutual, but it didn't progress pass mere flirtation.
According to Plummer, Eleanor Parker fell in love with an eventually married the cameraman Raymond Hirsh. He was her fourth husband and they stayed together for nearly forty years, until his death in 2001.
Shown Their Work: "Do-Re-Mi" is such an excellent introduction to solfege, it's still used as a teaching tool in many elementary schools.
Star-Making Role: This role, alongside Mary Poppins, made Julie Andrews a household name.
In reality, Georg and Maria were married in 1927, and she had borne two other kids by the time they left. Not only that, but they simply got on a train to Italy.
It's a fact of local legend that after the stage musical was written, anytime it was performed within a couple hours' drive of Stowe, Vermont, Maria von Trapp would attend opening night.
The depiction of Georg von Trapp as a stern disciplinarian annoyed his wife, as he was the exact opposite in real life—it was Maria who was the strict one. (She did, however, adore Christopher Plummer.)
In the movie, Georg quickly decides to reject the offer of a Captaincy in the Kriegsmarine and leave Austria as soon as possible. He actually anguished over the decision for a while. Technology had made such big strides since WW1, plus he had spent two decades as a sea-captain without a sea but was still a U-boat warrior at heart, that the offer to command a modern submarine was very, very tempting to him.
Of all the exaggerations of their lives, Maria commented in her memoirs that the only thing they didn't go far enough on was her behavior at the convent. She always laughingly commented when asked if she was that bad, "I was worse!"
The play started out as a Jukebox Musical with songs from the Trapp Family Singers' concerts, and one new number from Rodgers and Hammerstein. However, R&H agreed to write an entirely original soundtrack.
The film originally planned to just use newsreel footage of 1930s Austria after the Anschluss, the filmmakers being hesitant to ask if they could hang up Nazi flags as set dressing. However city officials opted to just hang the flags, rather than show the newsreel footage which would depict them welcoming the Nazis to the city.
Grace Kelly was the first choice to play the Baroness. However she had retired from acting after she became the Princess of Monaco.
Now-famous actors who auditioned to play the Von Trapp children - Kurt Russell, Mia Farrow, Richard Dreyfuss, Veronica Cartwright, Patty Duke, Liza Minelli, Sharon Tate and the four eldest Osmond brothers.
Before the musical was produced, Paramount originally owned the rights to the Von Trapps' story - and planned to cast Audrey Hepburn as Maria. When Hepburn declined, Paramount dropped the plans.
William Wyler was the original director of the film, and wanted to make the tone Darker and Edgier - featuring more of the Nazis in the story. 20th Century Fox were constantly clashing with him, and he ultimately dropped out.
The Baroness would have had a song too but Word of God is that they didn't want her to seem too sympathetic, so they left it out.
Jeanette MacDonald strongly considered coming out of retirement to play the Reverend Mother. However her health was bad and she felt she wouldn't be able for it. She died a month before the film's release.
Working Titles: The Singing Heart and Love Story, the latter of which became rejected to avoid confusion with other stories and songs with the same name.