Charmian Carr starred in 'The Sound of Music': Why generations still flock to it

Actress Carr, who died on Sept. 17, portrayed eldest von Trapp child, Liesl, in 'Sound of Music.' The film has become arguably the most beloved movie musical of all time.

The Carr family/AP
'The Sound of Music' actress Charmian Carr is seen in an undated photo provided by the Carr family.

Actress Charmian Carr, who is likely best known to movie fans for having portrayed Liesl von Trapp in the classic 1965 musical film “The Sound of Music,” has died. 

Ms. Carr’s character was the eldest of the von Trapp family and performed the famous song “Sixteen Going on Seventeen.” 

The film is Carr’s only movie credit, with the actress having appeared in a single other production, the 1966 TV movie “Evening Primrose.”

She instead pursued work in interior design.

As noted by the Los Angeles Times, Carr was a frequent presence at the Hollywood Bowl’s screenings of “Music.”

“Music” became an acclaimed and beloved film, with the movie winning the Oscar for best picture and best music and director Robert Wise receiving the Oscar for best director. Actresses Julie Andrews and Peggy Wood also received nominations for best actress and best supporting actress, respectively.

When adjusted for inflation, the movie is still the third-highest-grossing film of all time, behind only the 1939 movie “Gone With the Wind” and 1977’s “Star Wars.” 

“Music” was the subject of a tribute for its 50th anniversary at last year’s Oscars ceremony, with singer Lady Gaga performing a tribute of selections from the film with a special appearance by Ms. Andrews.

What has made this film so beloved by audiences? 

Cailey Hall of The Atlantic writes that the movie is clear with its moral dilemmas, contrasting the film with today’s politics and writing, “[In ‘Music’], the choice between right and wrong is clear. The antagonists are Nazis, after all. And the protagonists … well, it doesn't get much better than Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, a.k.a. Maria and the Captain, a couple equally matched in terms of intelligence, passion, and conviction.” 

She writes that she admires the bravery exhibited by Captain Georg von Trapp and Maria, writing, “I never fail to swoon at least a little when Captain von Trapp tears down the Nazi flag that he finds hanging from his home. It's a small moment, but an iconic one (for me, at least): a display of conviction so pure and so strong."

Christopher Plummer himself, who portrayed the Captain, also sees the movie as an antidote to more violent or cynical films that are released today and a film that achieved a good tone.

“I do respect that it is a bit of relief from all the gunfire and car chases you see these days,” he told Vanity Fair. “It’s sort of wonderfully, old-fashionedly universal. It’s got the bad guys and the Alps; it’s got Julie and sentiment in bucketloads. Our director, dear old Bob Wise, did keep it from falling over the edge into a sea of treacle.”

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