Thursday, 30 June 2011

Randomness: Baroness Schraeder

The Sound of Music is such a rich film thematically (some might even call it saturated) that I could probably write missives on it and still not cover it completely. What is it really? Love story? Religious fantasy? Musical farce? Propaganda? Indeterminate. I’m never quite sure how significant the love story aspect of the film is. Andrews and Plummer are nice enough together, but that essential need for there romance (an aspect that’s a prerequisite in any serious romance) is so oddly presented. On one side religion is pulling Maria from marrying and on the other good breeding prevents the captain from succumbing to her, good breeding in the form of Eleanor Parker’s Baroness Schraeder.
             
I feel a bit bad for Parker (whose birthday anniversary was last Sunday), she’s a multiple Oscar nominee and I immediately remember her not for her glorious work in Caged or her turn in Detective Story (although, you can forgive me for forgetting the latter, she hops in and out of it) but for her maybe thankless role in The Sound of Music. And, more than just a general memory of her performance I zero in on a specific scene – one of the most awkward (intentionally, probably) scenes in the movie. I don’t think that there’s anything more uncomfortable in the film – including that ending – than that game of catch that the Baroness plays with the Von Trapp children. It’s both a positive and a negative that the Baroness’ only flaw in the entire film is that she’s not a singing nun. Sure, she might be just a little bit too grandiose but not to the point of being annoying, and those children can be awful.
               
 
She's trying, she really is but these cold children just do not want to throw a ball around with her. Poor dear, even if she is the picture of sophisticated grace. It might have been so easy to play this particular scene a different way, but the Baroness is refined throughout. She's trying, but she's just completely out of her depth.

I feel so badly for her in that scene. We all love Maria, but surely we do not hate the Baroness? She's lovely.

7 comments:

Jose said...

I always want to try that pink lemonade the Baroness drinks and you're right, she's not a villain, Von Trapp is just a pussy who can't make up his mind about Maria. She's a victim of Maria's sluttiness in any case.

Walter L. Hollmann said...

One of the strengths of the film is that there is no attempt to make the Baroness a bad woman, just the wrong one. And this is why: even though the kids are being sulky, she just doesn't have the same joie de vivre Maria has. Which is fine, she's great on her own, but it's not what the Von Trapps need. Besides, she's Eleanor Parker, and therefore more lovely than anyone else in the room.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

jose i actualy was plannong on doing randomness on the pink lemonade at first. max and the baroness are just great together. ("maria's sluttiness" oh lord.)

walter she IS lovely. i love her final scene. "somewhere out there is a girl who'll never make a good nun". or some variation of that.

Runs Like A Gay said...

Thanks for reminding us how great the Baroness is, now I'm older I think I'd much rather have her as a step-mother than Maria...

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

ben ha, i get you. maria's exuberance might get annoying over time.

Paolo said...

She wanted to send the kids to boarding school and she, like the other aristocrats, were passive about Hitler. Hitler! But I totally get you. She's nice and a bit awkward the rest of the time.

The Sound of Music will be playing on July 27. Will you kill me if I don't see it? I've seen this movie at least twice now.

Lauren said...

The older I get, the more I appreciate the baroness. The SOM was the "gateway movie" for me with regards to Eleanor Parker, and I've been nothing but impressed by her work. She's an outstanding actress and a stunning beauty, and the more I see of her, the less plausible the SOM becomes for me. I mean, really....how could the Captain seriously pass her up for Maria??

But back to Eleanor herself... SOM was really at the tail end of her career, and was one of the few films where she wasn't top billed or leading lady. Though she's lovely in the SOM, her beauty is other-worldy in films like Interrupted Melody, The Naked Jungle, Escape From Fort Bravo...among others. :)

And P.S...she is still alive!!