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Monday 27 April 2015

'The Sound of Music': Nicholas Hammond Interview + 50th Anniversary DVD Giveaway

'The Sound of Music' fans - get excited!

The revered, iconic movie which has stood the test of time is turning 50 - and Josie's Juice has ten copies of the family favourite on Blu-Ray or DVD (your choice) to enjoy all over again.

And, Josie's Juice spoke to the ever lovely Nicholas Hammond, who true TSOM fans will know as the cute as a button Friedrich. The insightful, fun interview is below.

But first, I know you wanna know about the special, commemorative DVD you can get your hands on.

Twentieth Century Fox proudly honours the 50th anniversary of the 1965 (when you say it that way, it doesn't feel that long ago… but it IS!) box office smash and five-time Academy Award-winning 'The Sound of Music', with an unprecedented year-long company-wide celebration highlighted by theatrical and home entertainment releases, and a slew of promos that will bring one of the world’s most ‘favourite things,’ to millions around the globe.

Announced by the Studio, the unparalleled golden anniversary of the film’s premiere is April 22, 2015 with the release of the 4-disc 50th Anniversary Collector’s Edition featuring a limited edition porcelain tea cup. It's a beautifully restored, the 4-disc 50th anniversary collection which features over 15 hours of bonus content highlighted by the all-new documentary “The Sound of a City: Julie Andrews Returns to Salzburg,” detailing Andrews' recent return to the magical city where she filmed her iconic role Maria half a century ago.

The treasured and much loved film will once again proudly shine on the big screen in celebration of this special anniversary. A beautifully restored digital version of the film will be shown on "Mother's Day" May 10th at selected cinemas. Now that is a cute idea.

"'The Sound of Music' is one of the most beloved movies of all time and has become part of the cultural fabric of generations around the world,” said Mary Daily, President of Worldwide Marketing and Chief Marketing Officer, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. "From its very beginning The Sound of Music has brought immense joy to millions. The 50th Anniversary offers us the opportunity to honour this very special film -- the music, scenes and moments that continue to keep it as relevant today as when it first premiered."

A phenomenon upon its debut in 1965, 'The Sound of Music'’s spectacular ‘roadshow’ release spanned over two years in cinemas, inspiring audiences on the way to winning the Best Picture Oscar as well as millions of fans spanning multiple generations.  A testament to its enduring popularity, this timeless classic enjoys nearly 2.5 million Facebook followers (with 50% aged 34 years old or younger! How cool is that?).

'The Sound of Music' 50th anniversary celebration will feature a global partnership with Princess Cruises, also celebrating their Golden Anniversary in 2015. The acclaimed line will screen the movie on board multiple sailings throughout the year along with themed events, sing-a-long experiences and more. 

The emotional all-new 'The Sound of Music' documentary “The Sound of a City: Julie Andrews Returns to Salzburg” documentary blends personal memories with fascinating history as Ms. Andrews returns to key sites in the story of the von Trapps including Nonnberg Abbey, Mondsee Abbey, and the “Do-Re-Mi” steps at Mirabell Gardens. With the collection, fans can further explore the making of the biggest live-action musical of all time with numerous featurettes highlighting the movie, music, real-life von Trapp family and more. 

Before it was an Academy Award® winning film, 'The Sound of Music' was a Tony Award winning Broadway musical, and productions of the stage musical continue to be presented all over the world.  2015 will see the launch of a major new stage tour across the US and Canada, directed by Tony Award winner Jack O'Brien, simultaneous with another stage production touring the UK.

Winner of five Academy Awards®*, including Best Picture and Best Director, Robert Wise’s  inspiring adaptation of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music is the most  popular musical of all time and one of the genre's biggest box office hits. Starring Oscar** winners Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, the film follows Maria (Andrews), the warm-hearted young woman who brings joy and music to Captain von Trapp (Plummer) and his seven children. This cinematic treasure is filled with unforgettable songs including “Do-Re-Mi,” “My Favorite Things” and “The Sound of Music.”

*1966: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Music
**1965: Best Actress in a Leading Role; Mary Poppins / 2012: Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role; Beginners

For details on how to win a copy, scroll to the bottom.

Nicholas Hammond Interview with Josie's Juice

When we chat with Nicholas Hammond, he's fresh from a stint as co-host Studio 10 - and he says he "loved it." 

"I found it quite an interesting wrap up of everything that's going on in the day," Nicholas said of the program, "I was delighted to stay for the whole show."

Nicholas continues: "Who would have thought all those years ago that we'd still be talking about it and that so many people still love the movie. I think we all feel very honoured that people love it as much as they do."

People have a strong emotional connection to watching the movie, I point out.

Says Nicholas: "It's always wonderful to hear it had a profound impact on so many people's lives.

"The most moving anecdotes I hear are when you feel in some way, even if it's in a small way, that the movie had a significant effect on people's lives for the good."

"People suffering from a terrible bout of depression, who had undergone some kind of sadness in their life, or some kind of trauma or personal tragedy, and watching the film was a way for them to kind of turn the corner and rebuild their lives  - and to think that the movie would have been a part of that is truly meaningful.

"There was a story that I heard which was from a Vietnam vet who had came back from Vietnam really quite shattered, and with very little faith in the world and with humanity and very cynical and very, very depressed. He probably was suffering what we now know as post traumatic stress disorder, and he said his girlfriend at the time, now his wife, would play the film for him every day, and she thinks it saved his life. Because little by little it just restored his faith.

"The other story I have heard on numerous occasions, which is moving for me to hear it, is that people who have had a parent or grandparent, who knew that they were dying, and they said that really, as one of their last requests, that they wanted the whole family to gather together and watch the film. And you just feel such a sense of responsibility.

"Sometimes I am asked, don't you ever get sick of talking about it? And I think, how dare I get sick of talking about it when it's that kind of profound effect, I mean you know, it's still makes me quite emotional to know there are people in the world who for one reason or another actually believe that movie affected their lives for the better. It's a huge thing and a great gift.

"Another thing I am asked is: aren't you cross that actors who make movies now get squillions of dollars and that movie made so much money and you all didn't get paid very much money. And I say but how many actors out there can say that they've been in a movie that's had the effect, for good, like this one has. and you can't out a price tag on that.

"I feel we got paid more than a king's ransom of gold in what we were given by the privilege of  being in that film, and the friendships that we formed with each other and the love that all of us had for each other, the close, close bonds that we have. I've had 50 years of friendship and affection with that entire wonderful group of people. Again you can't put a price on that. It's a gift. I feel like one of the luckiest people in the world. The stories I told are just the tip of the iceberg. So many people, when they find out who you are, get emotional and hold my hand and tell me about a time in their life when that film was important to them. And you just think, boy, I am so privileged to be a part of this extradordimary phenomenon that is 'The Sound Of Music'.

"And it grows, that's the extraordinary thing; you'd think after 50 years of a film, it'd be dwindling and getting smaller and smaller, but it's quite the opposite, it's getting bigger and bigger and bigger. People still love it, even though it's this 50 year old movie. I can't think of another film that's 50 years old, that kids would flock to go and yet, children from almost the age of toddlers all seem to love 'The Sound of Music.'"

And it's something that parents can safely show their kids and the messages are still relevant and quite beautiful for kids today, I say to Nicholas.

"I think you've hit the nail on the head, I think it's the message more than anything else that is the reason for its success. You know, everybody tried to figure out the formula of what it is that has made it such a phenomenon. But I really think it's the fundamental human themes of love and loyalty and loyalty to your country and bravery and cir age in the face of difficulty. And when you think about it, it covers virtually every aspect of love. It covers love of a man for a woman, love of girl for a boy, love of children for a parent, love of children who are missing a mother, for a new mother, and then love of country, your patriotism.

"It doesn't matter what race you are, what ethnic group you're in, where in the world you are, I think those are fundamental themes that we all in our hearts would like to think that if we ere ever put in a situation like the Von Trapps were put in, that we would behave as honourably as they did.

"And then it's all buttoned up in this wonderful package of fantastic Rodgers and Hammerstein music and a wonderful script, and an astonishing performance by Julie Andrews, so it's a wonderful package but I think it's what's under the package that makes people keep coming back.

"It'll be interesting to see with your twins which of the children they most enjoy watching in the movie.

I still have people who communicate with me on social media who were my age when I was fuming, so 13, 14, 15, the same age when they first saw the movie."

"Most kids will identify with the child who was closest in age to them the first time they watched it. 
Your daughter may say: Marta or Brigitta are her favourites. You could ask a child watching it for the first time: if you could choose a child as your friend, which one would it be?

We then speak about Lady Gaga - who is someone considered so cutting edge as an artist - and her rendition of Julie Andrews's song was very clever and respectful and opened up a whole new world of people who wanted to watch the movie.

"You know you're right because, I was like everyone else in the world sitting at home, watching the Oscars, and when they said 'The Sound of Music' by Lady Gaga, a little thing in the back of my brain thought: please dear God don't let her send it up. Which I thought, maybe being a rock queen, her choice might be to do a sort of send up version, or a punk version, but she came out and sang so respectfully and bless her heart, I think she was actually singing for all she was worth. She was being as good as she could possibly be. And then to see her and Julie Andrews embrace on stage, I just thought, this is like one great musical star passing the torch on to the other one.'

"It was wonderfully symbolic. As you said, Lady Gaga had such respect for the material, it showed that even if you are one of the edgiest, coolest rock chicks in the world it doesn't mean you don't respect and understand the craft and the brilliance behind 'The Sound of Music'".

So many people have been to the set of 'The Sound of Music' in Salzburg, and Nicholas agrees the location is as important as ever.

"It's a huge thing for Austria, for many, many years - hundreds of thousands of people come each year to do the tour.

"To walk through these gardens and to see that nothing has changed. I don't think they're allowed to change it. The gardens where we sang 'Do Re Mi' look exactly the same.

"I did a documentary myself a couple of years ago, about the real Von Trapp family, and then I am going in October with the other six Von Trapp children, a 50th anniversary gala over three days. It will be huge fun. We have great fun. You should come 

"It's sort of funny because when we were making the movie we were children so there were many things we weren't allowed to do. We couldn't go to the bars, we couldn't go the fancy hotels, we couldn't do anything at night because we all had to be in bed so early, so it's kind of like, slightly wicked, to go back now and say, ooh, this is where Chris Plumber used to play piano every night in the bar, and go see the things the grown ups used to see and we never got to see."

I ask Nicholas: what are your lasting memories of what Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews taught him at that time?

"Well, a huge amount. It was like going to the greatest acting school in the world. 

Greatest film school, to have Chris and Julie as kinda role models. they were like the yin and yang: Christopher was a Shakesperean actor and very serous, he was a classically trained acrotr and he hadn't had a lot of film experience but he was enofrmaulsy skilled as a stage acyr[, so he moved beautifully and used his voice and great command and presence. 

"And Julie, who is an absolute musical theatre animal and projected so much warmth, and skill, and professionalism, and because I knew I wanted to be am actor for the rest of my life, I would just sit and like a sponge soak in everything i could get from them and conatslt be trying to manoieve ,my way closer to them so I could eavesdrop on what they were saying. I just wanted to abandon every single word because I thought they were both just so extraordinarily talented. And they are, look at them!

"Christopher Plummer wins Oscars at the age of 84, I mean excuse me, how many people do that?", he laughs. "It's almost to the point of being slightly irritating! He's gotten even better, and you think c'mon Christopher, give someone else a break," he says with a chuckle. But he's a wonderful actor.

"And Julie. Julie's been a star since she was nine years old. It's the most astonishing kind of career of anybody I can think of."

I say the obvious to Nicholas: who doesn't watch 'The Sound Of Music' when it's on TV? Does Nicholas, too?

"I like to watch it on Blu-Ray or DVD. I don't like to watch it when it's on commercial television because of the ads. I love watching it on the big screen. Once every five years I love being invited to a screening somewhere, where it's in a big cinema, state of the art sound, on a huge screen… that's still to me a wonderful experience. If I am at home, I want to watch it on Blu-Ray. The quality of the new one that's just come out (the commermoartuve edition we are giving away, below!) is amazing. It's got interviews with Julie, and a documentary, and that's great, too. But it's just the sheer quality of it.

"Now that everyone's got the home theatre, you truly can recreate it exactly as it was intended when you saw it at the movies. It's kind of great because it's the real experience that the filmmakers wanted you to have. And that's the way I like to see it, too."

So, what's the movie Nicholas never fails to always watch when it's on TV?

"'Casablanca'. I am old softie at heart. I think Ingrid Bergman and Humphery Bogart and Claude Rains in that movie... that to me is kind of the perfect movie. '
The Sound of Music' is the perfect musical movie. But for just a love story, I think 'Casablanca' is superb. I never not watch it if I see it's on TV.

Robyn Nevin - acclaimed Australian actor, director, and former head of Sydney Theatre Company - has been Nicholas's partner since 1987, and I ask him if he's still 
Sydney residing?

"NSW. We live south of Sydney, in the countryside. We were in Sydney for a long time, and of course we work in Sydney, but we have a private nest in the middle of nowhere in the Southern Highlands. It's lovely down there."

What in all his years with Robyn, what has he found to be the most endearing characteristics about Australians?

"I think there's an honesty about the work. I mean, I love working here in the film business and in the theatre, but especially in the film business because I think there's a kind of no nonsense approach where you just get on with it and just do it. And I really like that. And I really like the Australian sense of humour, and the fact that they don't mind sending themselves up a bit, and they don't take themselves all that seriously. And I think it's a really nice balance, and yet I mean, they do extremely good work - I mean look at the films that are made here, the films are absolutely wonderful. So I think that it's kind of the quality of the personality of the country.

"I also like the fact, and I say this as an American, because I think America has something to learn from Australia, I think Australia is much better than a lot of places, well much better than America anyway, in the kind of socially feeling a sense of responbility of making sure that everybody is looked after, in the sense that everybody's got healthcare, everybody can get a pension when they are elderly, nobody's going to starve, nobody's going to be made bankrupt if they get ill and have to go to hospital, and I just think that those are the signs of a really good society. I think it's a terrific country and I am very happy and proud that I live here and have been welcomed here and that now it's my base."

And with that, Nicholas adds: "Give my best to your twins. Tell them Friedrich says hello, and hopes they enjoy the film the next time they watch it."

What a sweetheart Nicholas is.

And now, how to win a copy of the commemorative DVD, below:

- Follow me on Instagram and Twitter if you are on the social media platforms. Also, share 'The Sound of Music' prize photo on my @josiegags Instagram page by taking a screenshot of it, then using these hashtags: #regram #josiesjuice #competitions #giveaways #prizes #TheSoundOfMusic

- Share this link on your Facebook wall

- Comment below on why you'd like to win this DVD (and which format you'd like - DVD or Blue-Ray) AND email me at josiegags@optusnet.com.au so I can contact you in case you are a winner (so many people forget this step and don't enter a valid email address below, and I spend lots of time trying to track you down, or simply give the prize to the next person - not fun for anyone!)

(If you find it hard to comment below because your device won't let you - sometimes that happens on an iPhone, for example - simply send me your entry and address via email at josiegags@optusnet.com.au).

*Competition is open to Australian residents only.

Look! A bonus video right here:

Nicholas as he appeared in 'The Sound Of Music'

Nicholas Hammond today

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