The Sound of Music Is Turning 50, and I Have Never Seen It

Imagine running into this on a dark Alp.
Imagine running into this on a dark Alp.

On March 2, 1965, a movie about an almost-nun who becomes governess to a forbidding Austrian widower's seven Aryan kids on the even of World War II opened in U.S. theaters. Although it was famously panned upon release (Pauline Kael called it "the sugar-coated lie that people seem to want to eat"), it nonetheless won Best Picture at that year's Oscars and eventually went on to become the fifth highest-grossing movie (adjusted for inflation) of all time.

And I've never watched it.

Somehow, over all the decades it was aired annually on network TV (on a Sunday night, when I was usually scrambling to complete an entire weekend's worth of homework in two hours), the advent of VHS, DVD and the interwebs, and even an ill-advised live version, I still managed to miss it. Did such an oversight contribute to my disinterest in blonds? Or perhaps lead to my current oft-surly persona? Perhaps, but it's hardly the only so-called "classic" film I haven't seen.

Gone with the Wind (1939) - Might as well get this one out of the way. I've mentioned it before, but the movie's length, while not unusual in these days of 2.5-hour Lone Ranger movies, worked against it for me. It either aired across two nights on TV (getting my family together for anything other than Ghostbusters or National Geographic specials required a Congressional subpoena) or came on two videocassettes, and I could always come up with something else I needed to do after that first tape ended.

I mean, I'm pretty sure I've seen all of it at various times, but never all at once, beginning to end. And Christ is Scarlett annoying.

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It's A Wonderful Life (1946) - Yeah, this is a weird one. Even though it aired every holiday season, even in the pre-cable days, I can't remember it ever being on at my house. Further proof my parents were sleeper Commie agents à la The Americans.

When a neighbor family (I was friends with their son in high school) discovered this oversight, they insisted I come over to watch it with them, which seems very Flanders-like now. We made it about halfway through before the son and I excused ourselves to go play Axis & Allies.

Titanic (1997) - Fine, I actually did see this, though I really tried not to. Went to the theater with my family over Christmas and did my best to zone out for three hours. Billy Zane was in it, right?

 

The Long Goodbye (1973) - Should I have seen this? I'm a Philip Marlowe fan, but apparently not a Robert Altman completist (I've never seen A Prairie Home Companion either). Elliott Gould always seemed like a weird choice, yet of all the movies I'm going to list here, this one I'll probably get around to watching first.

Sophie's Choice (1982) - I only vaguely knew what this was about when it came out, and now that I know the plot (sill managed to stay unspoiled for almost 30 years) -- as a parent -- I have no desire to rectify the situation. Love ya, Meryl, but no thanks.

The Grapes of Wrath (1940) - I may be the only student in America who enjoyed reading John Steinbeck's novel, so much so apparently I never sought the movie out. I like that Springsteen song, though. That counts, right?

Brian's Song (1971) - Wait, this was a TV movie? Whatever, still counts. I'll blame the fact I was probably still in diapers when it originally aired as well as my near-allergic reaction to weepy sports biopics for the lapse regarding this one.

Learned my lesson from Pride of the Yankees. And I hate the Yankees.

 

Gigi (1958) - Jesus, this thing won *nine* Oscars? That, and the recent passing of Louis Jordan reminded me I never got around to this. I blame that damn song, which makes me want to clear my browser history every time I see reference to it online.

Not to be confused with...

Gigli (2003) - Remember when "Bennifer" was a thing? And when Martin Brest directed Beverly Hills Cop and Midnight Run? Did you know Brest hasn't made a movie since?

Maybe it was the birth of my first child and coming to terms with my own mortality, but Gigli marked a turning point where I realized I might want to stop wasting hours of my life watching dogshit movies.

Out of Africa (1985) - I was randomly checking the list of Best Picture winners and had to go all the way back to 1985 to find one I hadn't seen. And Meryl again! Forgive me, Your Streepness.

Fun fact: Going back from there, the next Best Picture winner I haven't seen is...The Sound of Music.


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