20th Century Fox premiered The Sound of Music in early March of 1965, and it quickly became the world’s most loved movie and remains so for many today.
By the end of the year, it had become the biggest money earner of all time so it was a good likelihood that it would win the Golden Globe as Best Musical or Comedy that year. Robert Wise, who had won four years earlier for West Side Story, again won both the Golden Globe (and the Academy Award ) for Best Director.
When Rodgers and Hammerstein were first approached to write the score, they were busy working on Flower Drum Song. If the producers could wait they’d love to do it. “Take along as you wish.” was the response. Three years later the show opened on Broadway, and even though it was not considered one of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s better musicals it won the Tony for best musical.
Twentieth Century Fox bought the screen rights for $1.2 million against (can you beat this?) 10% of the gross. The film has grossed over $300 million. William Wyler was first signed to direct but when he seemed less than enthusiastic about making the film he was replaced by Wiser minds.
Christopher Plummer had to be coerced to play Baron von Trapp, but Eleanor Parker, who had worked with Wise on her Venice Film Festival Best Actress award-winning role in Caged, was eager to join the cast. Fox had no idea it had a goldmine on its hands and was in dire straits needing a lifeline after having sold half the studio lot (now Century City) to complete its earlier fiasco Cleopatra.
The film opened in reserved seat engagements but quickly became a sensation attracting repeat audiences. Overseas it played continuously for over a year in some theaters, except in West Germany where it was not welcome. There were no other musicals competing for Best Musical or Comedy that year, but there was a plethora of worthy comedies including Cat Ballou, The Great Race, Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines, and A Thousand Clowns; all six were nominated.
Julie Andrews, of course, won again, and Lee Marvin was named Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy, a triumph he repeated at the Academy Awards. The HFPA did themselves proud that year naming David Lean’s Doctor Zhivago best picture drama.