"It Was The Opening Scene That Made Me A Fan!"
by Greg May
I will never forget the first time I saw 'The Sound of Music'. It was 1965 and I was eight years old as my family was getting ready to go downtown to Orlando's Beacham Theatre and I didn't want to go . . . it was Saturday night and I wanted to stay home to watch 'Flipper'!
I remember my dad threatened to spank me if I didn't straighten up and I was still whining when the movie began but when JULIE ANDREWS came walking across that grassy knoll as the orchestra built into a crescendo I stood up out of my seat!
The opening scene made such an impression on me and it still does today . . . it is truly one of the most memorable scenes ever filmed in motion picture history.
'The Sound of Music' was the longest-playing movie at The Beacham Theatre in downtown Orlando - having run for sixteen months from April 1965 to August 1966. There was a lady who - after seeing the movie fifty times - was never charged admission for subsequent viewings. Everybody in Orlando, Florida was talking - and singing - 'The Sound of Music.'
'Do Re Mi' had become a hit on radio and could be heard over WDBO Radio in Orlando.
Every home had the soundtrack and when the teachers were getting ready for another school year the soundtrack album echoed through the halls of every elementary school as we were enjoying the last two weeks of summer.
After the movie ended its big-screen run, a wave of disappointment settled over the Orlando community. Some people made an effort to get the movie theatre to bring it back or have it shown at other theatres but to no avail.
There was something about 'The Sound of Music' that brought out the best in people - as if it filled them with hope and encouragement. The Movie also made people act differently. For example, my neighbors that I never heard singing before were now singing and acting out parts of the movie.
Back then there was no Internet nor satellite or cable TV so die-hard 'Sound of Music' fans held on to anything that came out regarding the movie. For example, the book, 'Maria Trapp's Story' became a best-seller because the publisher had artwork depicting Maria and The Children running across the Alps on the cover.
Since the movie had ended its run in
Orlando, what a thrill it was to watch a documentary called 'Portrait of a Legend' on television. This syndicated TV-film was a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the motion picture.
I was blessed to have been able to work in television. It was the 1980's and I was producing and hosting a cable TV show in Orlando called 'Central Florida Spotlight' where I would interview celebrities since Central Florida was being touted as the 'new Hollywood'.
I got to meet the producer and director of 'The Sound of Music', Mr. ROBERT WISE not once, but twice. The first time I met Mr. Wise he was guest of honor at a soiree for the Central Florida Motion Picture & Television Association at Universal Studios. I remember asking him excitedly about how the camera was mounted in the helicopter to film the opening shot where Julie Andrews spun around on that mountaintop meadow. Mr. Wise told me the camera was mounted on the side of the 'copter using a special apparatus. But Julie Andrews - when reminiscing about the day they filmed - said the camera was held by 'a brave cameraman as the helicopter approached sideways, almost crab-like'.
The next year I got to meet Mr. Wise again - this time at a cocktail party given in his honor at the home of the couple who owned The Enzian Theatre in Winter Park. With my good friend, graphic artist DEBBIE SMITH with me, Mr. Wise RAN when he saw me coming!
I cornered him in the kitchen and he said, "Ah, you're the young man that talked my ear off about the beginning of 'The Sound of Music'! We spent the next hour listening spellbound to the legendary director as he regaled us with stories about the filmmaking.
ROBERT WISE told me that he didn't want anything to do with the project when he was first handed the ERNEST LEHMAN screenplay - but he needed a job. He didn't think the American public would go for a movie about nuns and children and musicals weren't 'in' at that time. So he prayed about it. In a dream the Lord said, "Look to the hills, from whence forth cometh your help".
That was God's way of telling him to take the cast and crew on location to Salzburg. As a result, the film earned $50 million during its first year of release.
There truly is power in prayer!