In a world of way too many movie remakes, certain classics have seemed to be immune to the ambitions of unscrupulous filmmakers who hope to make a buck by ripping off a previously successful production that requires no originality whatsoever on their part. "Gone with the Wind" hasn't been touched in more than 70 years and no one even dares try, although the burning of Tara and other scenes that required special effects unparalleled in 1939 could be really cool if, say, James Cameron took on the project. Other titles that frequently pop up on lists of movies that would never be remade include "Citizen Kane," "Taxi Driver," "Midnight Cowboy" and the two Julie Andrews classics that defined my childhood, "Mary Poppins" and "The Sound of Music."
So much for preserving the Von Trapp family story as it was ingrained in many a baby boomer's – and beyond – mind. News of a "Sound of Music" remake has been making the rounds across all the entertainment waves with the announcement this weekend that Carrie Underwood will fill Andrews' shoes as Maria Von Trapp. Noooooooo! How could they? It's sacrilegious, degrading to the original and just plain wrong.
Well, I suppose out of all the modern-day female singers, she'd be at the top of the list, at least in terms of a beautiful voice, to impersonate the iconic Andrews. Couldn't you see the "American Idol" winner belt out "Do-Re-Mi," "My Favorite Things" and the title song, all made vocal solo contest and musical production audition favorites after becoming engrained in people's minds over the last couple of generations?
Then again, I'm kind of partial to Anne Hathaway as an Andrews replacement. Perhaps it's because she's acted alongside the elder woman, portraying her granddaughter in the "Princess Diaries" movies. Or maybe I think she resembles Andrews more in appearance. One thing for sure is that Hathaway has loads more acting experience than Underwood, and although some musicals entail very little acting but more vocal skills, "Sound of Music" employs both pretty equally. With "Les Miserables" soon to hit theaters, the world will also see that this versatile actress also has a mesmerizing singing voice that reminiscent of Andrews'.
The remake, as I found out only after reading a more in-depth story last night, is actually going to be a live television performance – in the style of a big, powerful Broadway production, no doubt – to be broadcast sometime during next year's holiday season. So seeing how this isn't a big screen flick, it would not technically be a remake of the endearing film, right? "The Sound of Music" did originate on Broadway, so would this not be classified as a revival, or a unique presentation of the Broadway version?
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Maybe it won't be so bad after all, kind of like Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella" musical telefilm broadcast in 1957 starring none other than Julie Andrews, in 1965 starring Lesley Ann Warren and in 1997 with Brandy in the starring role. I always enjoyed the Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, of which "The Sound of Music" is also one, and as long as the powers that be preserve the essence of both the music and the play, it has promise.
One suggestion, though: Include both Andrews and Christopher Plummer from the original, casting them in minor roles. This may seem cliched, but I, for one, would like to see it happen.
Although it has been turned into a successful Broadway production, the film version of "Mary Poppins" remains the one and only big screen production of the musical, preserved as I remember it as the first movie I ever saw at the Grand Theatre. But wait, there is a movie a movie currently in the works about "Mary Poppins" called "Saving Mr. Banks." With Tom Hanks starring as none other than the big guy himself, Walt Disney, the film tells the story of how Disney diligently pursued "Poppins" author P.L. Travers for years for the filming rights.
Well, I must admit, the plot sounded a little boring until I read up on it more. Apparently, Disney was so enamored with the "Poppins" story and Travers so reluctant to allow such a personal story to be filmed, that it took around 20 years before an agreement was reached and the movie was finally released in 1964. Even then, the author so loathed all the animation sequences, she never sold the film rights to another story.
It's bound to be a winner with Hanks at forefront. Seeing how this is also set for release next holiday season, Julie Andrews fans such as I have two things to look forward to then.
I wonder, though, who will play Andrews and Dick Van Dyke in the flick, and will they be able to do the truly originals justice?