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2005-07-07 - 12:56 p.m.
Ford Every Stream
I did enjoy this, even though I must admit I don't think I've ever seen the entire thing all the way through, just snippets here and there around age 8 or 10 or something.
Anyway, it provided a bright spot in what for some reason is quite a gloomy (and I'm not talking about the marine layer OR the London transit bombings) day.
For the last few years, the Hollywood Bowl has added to its summer programming an event that I hope it will never drop: the singalong. It's a chance to picnic with friends under the stars and croon to classic musical movies as they appear on-screen. In other words, it's strictly for hams. Some years, it's "The Wizard of Oz"; on Saturday, the Bowl will present "The Sound of Music," and if it were up to me, we'd be climbing every mountain every year. When it comes to the saga of the Von Trapp family, my feeling is that you either love it or hate it. There's really no gray area, just as there's no question about the identity of the movie's bad guys (the Nazis) and heroes (the good Austrians who won't stick around to fight for a fascist regime).
No, "The Sound of Music" is not about subtleties. At the last "Sound of Music" singalong at the Bowl, the audience was well aware of this fact, booing every time the Nazis appeared on the screen and cheering for the nuns who steal parts from the Nazis' getaway car. I was right there with them. I too have no love for the Nazis. They're the reason my family left Austria — except my family was Jewish and had an even less attractive alternative than the Von Trapp family.
There is, however, one point on which my fellow "Sound of Music" enthusiasts and I do not agree: the Baroness Schraeder. Last year, every time the carefully coiffed Baroness appeared onscreen, a chorus of hisses filled the Bowl. The first time I heard it, I looked around in shock. Why dis the Baroness? She's a fabulous society woman, not a fascist. A woman who spends that much time on her hair surely doesn't have time to dabble in politics.
The Baroness is my kind of girl: always impeccably dressed, quick with a sharp observation, and quick to fill your glass with lemonade spiked with just the right amount of good cheer. Sure, she's a little manipulative, but her man's about to be lured away by a young nun who's also his children's nanny. How would you solve a problem like Maria?
"There's nothing more irresistible to a man than a woman who's in love with him," she tells Maria after witnessing her blush in the Captain's arms following a jaunt around the dance floor.
She could have ratted on Maria to Mother Superior, or told Maria straight out to stay away from her man, but she didn't have to. All it took was one suggestive remark and Maria went running back to the nunnery with no further persuasion. I think I would have liked Maria a little better if she'd stood her ground against such a worthy adversary.
If anyone deserves a hissing, it's Capt. Von Trapp. He's the one who asked the Baroness to marry him and then threw her over the second that Fräulein Maria barreled back to the estate, guitar in tow. So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu, Baroness.
The Captain later tells Maria that he fell in love with her the minute she sat on the pine cone, one of the first scenes of the movie. If this was true, it should logically follow he'd chase after her when she flees his estate, about 1 1/2 hours into the film (or longer, if you're watching with commercials). But what does the Captain do instead? He proposes to another woman, the Baroness. What woman couldn't sympathize with the poor Baroness for having to put up with such a wishy-washy man?
But perhaps I'm appealing to the wrong audience, for it wasn't women's voices filling the Bowl with "My Favorite Things." The few of us females in attendance last year were drowned out by the bass and tenor of West Hollywood. This makes the Baroness bashing even more mysterious to me.
Men of West Hollywood, I ask you: If given the choice, whom would you rather go clubbing with — a singing nun who yodels or a saucy blond who can talk trash with the best of you? Don't lie to me. You'd rather go clubbing with the Baroness. Maria, in her brown woolen dirndl, wouldn't even get you through the door.
But I digress. Apart from her quick wit and fabulous wardrobe, there's something else that appeals to me about the Baroness, and that's her vulnerability. When she learns the engagement is off, she doesn't slap the Captain or try to belittle Maria. With a glisten in her eye, she delivers her parting line with as much poise as a wounded tigress: "Somewhere out there is a lady who I think will never be a nun. Auf Wiedersehen, darling."
Does this woman really deserve our condemnation? I think not. I think the Baroness deserves a night on the town, and at least four pairs of new shoes.
Don't forget she's got a destructive war and Nazis to deal with when she returns to Vienna. At least Dorothy's returning to peacetime.
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