When the red carpet was first rolled out for the “The Sound of Music” in 1965, star Christopher Plummer wasn’t all that interested in celebrating the film’s opening.
Rather than spend the whole night at the movie’s glitzy premiere in New York, Plummer had a better idea: Drinking.
“All of the males went to a bar,” Plummer recalled with a chuckle. “We’d kind of seen it, you know? So we spent most of the night in the bar. I can’t do it anymore like I used to, damn it.”
Despite the sun beating down on him late Thursday afternoon, the 85-year-old seemed much more keen to celebrate the film five decades years later. Shielded by large umbrellas, Plummer and co-star Julie Andrews arrived at the TCL Chinese Theater to kick off this year’s TCM Classic Film Festival, which opened with a special 50th anniversary screening of “The Sound of Music.”
The film was shown as it initially played in the ‘60s -- road-show style, with an overture and an intermission. But before the nearly three-hour production began, Plummer and Andrews sat with former Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Sid Ganis to discuss the musical’s enduring legacy.
“It’s the primal family movie of all time. ‘Boyhood’ is a family movie, but it’s not quite the same thing,” Plummer joked, referring to this year’s best picture nominee. “It’s the last bastion of peace and innocence in a very cynical time.”
For years, Plummer distanced himself from the Robert Wise-directed picture. He said he found his role as Captain Von Trapp too sentimental, and even called the movie “The Sound of Mucus.” He’s come around in recent years, noting Thursday that the film “could have been really mawkish.”
“You made it less saccharine,” Andrews, 79, insisted. “You made it have an astringency because of the way you played the Captain. And without that, we would have been sunk, I think. I really mean that.”
Andrews said she and Plummer have become “good chums,” and they had an easy rapport on stage. At one point, she referred to him as “my love,” while he deemed her “an old-fashioned saint. You would follow her as you follow Joan of Arc."
The pair also recounted stories from set in Austria, laughing about how often Andrews found herself on top of a cart with camera equipment being hauled up a mountain by oxen. It rained a lot, too, she said, which was unpleasant but ended up having a positive effect on the production.
“That rain made so many gloriously puffy cumulus clouds in the background,” she said. “When you see the movie, notice the strength of the background, because it made a difference. It wasn’t just a picture postcard all the time.”
Following the screening, guests migrated to the rooftop at W Hotel for an after-party that preserved the evening’s vintage -- and occasionally wacky-- vibe. Women in flapper dresses and men wearing fedoras unironically sipped cocktails by the pool, as a DJ spun Marvin Gaye and Quincy Jones songs. One woman in a red, Marilyn Monroe-inspired gown and white fur stole carried a chihuahua in an evening dress.
Near the bar, renderings of the future Academy Museum were displayed. Fundraisers for the museum, which is scheduled to open in 2017, are hoping to find potential donors and members among the festival’s audience of ardent classic film fans.