Friday, February 18, 2011

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Casting Coup Month: The Sound of Music

Best Picture (WON)
Best Director - Robert Wise (WON)
Best Actress - Julie Andrews
Best Supporting Actress - Peggy Wood
Best Cinematography, Color - Ted D. McCord
Best Music, Score of Music, Treatment or Adaptation - Irwin Kostal (WON)
Best Editing - William Reynolds (WON)
Best Costume Design, Color - Dorothy Jeakins
Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color - Boris Leven, Walter M. Scott, Ruby R. Levitt
Best Sound - James Corcoran, Fred Hynes (WON)

I'm always surprised when certain films hold up over time, especially one that has become so much apart of the pop culture, like The Sound of Music. One is often tempted to convince oneself that its sunny, optimistic self has probably become insufferable. If the adults don't kill it, you know one of the kids will. Probably the toddler, or one of the sons; they usually suck all the energy out of a room. One of the songs will suddenly be boring. The feel-good feeling will get oppressive. One just knows something awful is going to happen.

The Sound of Music loves it when one is wrong. And when it comes to The Sound of Music, one is wrong all the time. When you're weakest scene is the beautiful love song in the "FINALLY" moment between Fraulein Maria and Captain Von Trapp, you're doing a damn fine job. Every performance hits it right, from Julie Andrews' impish, intelligent, yet naive Maria to Eleanor Parker's surprisingly sympathetic Baroness to Christopher Plummer's stern, romantic Captain to Richard Haydn's career-topping Uncle Max. It's the kind of movie that my mother loves, my grandmother saw in theaters, and my friends throw a party for. Yeah, that happened: a group of us got together to watch The Sound of Music. And we were not afraid to cry together.

I hope you're all on the same page with me. Who can deny the thrill of the chase scene, the warmth of Captain Von Trapp singing, the adrenaline rush of the concert? Hopefully, very few. But if this is one of those perfect movies, why recast it? Why even float the idea of a remake?


Who is She: The head of the abbey where Maria begins as a nun. She gets Maria the appointment as governess for the Von Trapp family. She is also the one to whom Maria flees when the Baroness questions her about her feelings for Georg.

Songs: Preludium, Maria, Morning Hymn, Climb Every Mountain, Wedding Processional, Finale Ultimo

Originally played by: Academy Award/Golden Globe Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (The Sound of Music)
Peggy Wood (A Star is Born, The Story of Ruth)

My Choice: Academy Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (Gaslight, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Manchurian Candidate), BAFTA Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actress (Death on the Nile), Golden Globe Winner for Best Supporting Actress (The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Manchurian Candidate)
Angela Lansbury (Nanny McPhee, Mr. Popper's Penguins)
Hey, here's the voice of an angel! Ms. Lansbury has the wisdom of age, and she can still make with the songs. Climb every mountain? I could for you, Mrs. Fletcher. I could for you.

Who is She: The Captain's fiancee. She becomes jealous of Maria's talent and repartee with the children. She convinces Maria to leave, but she isn't a bad sort; she loves that man, but knows she can never be the wife and mother the Von Trapps need.

Songs: How Can Love Survive?, No Way to Stop It

Originally played by: Academy Award Nominee for Best Actress (Caged, Detective Story, Interrupted Melody)
Eleanor Parker (Scaramouche, The Man with the Golden Arm)

My Choice:
Rachael Stirling (The Young Victoria, Centurion)
Oh, I don't know if she can sing. I didn't even know the Baroness sang until I checked out the tracklist for the Broadway show. But acting-wise, Rachael Stirling's a fabulous choice, beautiful and classy, and capable of bringing the British "cool".

Who is He: A close friend of the Captain's. As the talent scout for the Salzburg Music Festival, he continually works to persuade the Von Trapps to enter. Max doesn't necessarily agree with the rising Nazi movement, but he's a man who goes with the flow.

Songs: How Can Love Survive?, Opening Act II, No Way to Stop It

Originally played by:
Richard Haydn (And Then There Were None, Young Frankenstein)

My Choice: Academy Award/BAFTA Award/Golden Globe/SAG Award Winner for Best Actor [in a Drama] (Shine), BAFTA Award Winner for Best Supporting Actor (Elizabeth), SAG Award for Best Ensemble (Elizabeth), Hollmann Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (The King's Speech)
Geoffrey Rush (Quills, The Warrior's Way)
Well, who cares if Rush can sing? Surely he can play a loyal friend with a sense of humor. Surely he just got an Oscar nomination for that.

Who is He: Widowed navy captain, he runs his household like he ran a ship: strict and efficient. He is the complete antithesis to Maria, and of course they don't get on! But when music returns to the household, he softens towards Maria and his children. The Captain is a strongly patriotic Austrian, and as such opposes the Nazi regime.

Songs: The Sound of Music - Reprise, No Way to Stop It, Something Good, The Lonely Goatherd, Edelweiss, So Long Farewell - Reprise

Originally played by: Academy Award/Golden Globe/Indie Spirit/SAG Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor (The Last Station), SAG Award Nominee for Best Ensemble (A Beautiful Mind)
Christopher Plummer (Beginners, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)

My Choice: SAG Award Winner for Best Ensemble (Inglourious Basterds)
Michael Fassbender (Hunger, Fish Tank)
As it turns out, he can sing! Historically, he's age-appropriate. Aesthetically, he's dashing. Frankly, he's a great actor.

Who is She: A novice nun who arrives at the Von Trapp manor as the new governess. She shows remarkable resilience in the face of the challenges thrown her way by the children's antics and the Captain's strictness. But she brings back the music in their lives and allows the children to get dirty and wear curtains and OOOOH SHE'S SO AWESOME!

Songs: The Sound of Music, I Have Confidence, Do-Re-Mi, My Favorite Things, The Sound of Music - Reprise, Something Good, Sixteen Going on Seventeen - Reprise, The Lonely Goatherd, Edelweiss, So Long Farewell - Reprise

Originally played by: Academy Award/Golden Globe Winner for Best Actress [in a Musical/Comedy] (Mary Poppins), BAFTA Award Nominee for Best British Actress (The Sound of Music, The Americanization of Emily), Golden Globe Winner for Best Actress in a Musical/Comedy (The Sound of Music, Victor/Victoria)
Julie Andrews (Star!, The Princess Diaries)

My Choice: SAG Award Nominee for Best Ensemble (Milk)
Alison Pill (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Midnight in Paris)
Again, a more age-appropriate casting decision. Pill is an engaging actress, and while I don't see her as a regular leading lady, I believe every actor has one leading role in them. I think Maria Rainer is that role for Allison Pill, who has a beautiful voice and an energy that I find irresistible.

Best Actor: Michael Fassbender
Best Actress: Alison Pill
Best Supporting Actor: Geoffrey Rush
Best Supporting Actress: Angela Lansbury, Rachael Stirling


TomS said...

Lots to sink my teeth into here!

You are a brave soul, Walter, re-thinking what to some is an almost sacred work!

Love your choices of Lansbury and Rush!

Actually, in regard to age-appropriateness, Andrews was only 4 years older than Pill is now when Andrews shot the film in 1965 (Andrews was about 30; Pill will be around 26).

Can't have the "parental figures" too young to have a daughter that's 16 going on 17! (grin).

If you and I were to re-make "The Sound of Music", why not make it really subversive! As Captain Von Trapp, how about Dot-Marie Jones, from Glee, in a straightforward male lead (like Linda Hunt in "Year...") Question is, can she sing? if not, time to find the male equivalent of Marni Nixon.

Anyway this was great, and huge fun, and the studios ought to utilize your talents before long!

(By the way, I saw it in theaters too... Sigh...VERY young, BTW lol)

Peter Chan said...

Wow.Tough choices there. I absolutely love the idea of Fassbender as Von Trapp! I'm not so sure about Allison Pill as Maria, I need someone a little more warm and goofy. Is the obvious choice of Anne Hathaway too easy?

And a VERY outside the box thinking, I would love to see what Lucy Liu can do with a role like the Baroness.

Let's cast the kids!!!.... and Rolf! :)

TomS said...

Oh yes! The Children! Should be a fun post all its own! (Rolf..I vote for Armie hammer).

Peter Chan said...

OMG. Love your Armie Hammer suggestion as Rolf. I'm not sure which child they'd play, but I'm inclined to add Dakota Fanning and Freddie Highmore in there somewhere.

Also, I recant.. Baroness... January Jones. Imagine that. Wow. I'm loving this film in the Casting Coup feature. :)

Walter L. Hollmann said...

Glad we're all getting into the swing of things! :)

Dot-Marie Jones...maybe as the Abbess? Or as the nun who disapproves of Maria?

Oh, I love that y'all are casting the youth. I didn't dare, since I know few age-appropriate stars. Maybe if Hailee Steinfeld was a little older, she could be Liesl. Or Dakota Fanning?