Pretty sure Vibewire didn’t want this. So, here it is, for you, my loyal readers.
I re-watched The Sound of Music a couple of weeks ago, and apart from realising where various personal preferences arise from (a desire to hike rugged mountains, an embarrassing habit of singing and dancing in various public spaces, as well as a love of peasant-style clothing in garish colours: why didn’t my mother make me clothes out of drapes?) something else became apparent.
That Captain von Trapp is hot.
I was amazed I had never noticed it before (though, to tell the truth, I had astoundingly bad taste as a child – I once had a serious crush on Tom Selleck. And not in Magnum, but in Three Men and a Baby. To this day, a tall, dark, moustachioed man holding a baby makes me weak at the knees). Watching the movie, von Trapp’s hotness was glaringly obvious. It seemed as convincing a reason as any for why millions of women had shown the movie to their children. Not because it was wholesome, or had a good story, or because of the lovely music and singing, but because it offered an excellent opportunity to perve on a hot man for two and a half hours and call it quality time with the children.
What was it exactly that made him so smoking? When I thought about it, there were many things working in his favour. The amazing jawline, piercing blue eyes and dark hair with a hint of salt and pepper over the ears were a good start – an older, experienced Naval gentleman certainly floats my boat. The awesome ‘Austrian’ outfit he wears when we first see him (grey jacket with green lining, crisp white shirt and tie) was also helpful – I’m a sucker for a man in a suit. There’s his deep, growling voice sliding over and stretching his lines, swirling the words round in his mouth and then snapping them out, turning a fairly average and child-friendly script into something ever-so-slightly naughty. Of course, a straight man who can sing and dance is definitely sexy (hence Glee) and one that can play guitar is even more so. There was his captivating habit of standing up straighter and stiffer whilst annoyed, only letting on his large frustration through the barely-perceptible shaking of his hand. There was something hugely sexy about all that controlled rage… There was also something hugely sexy about his wicked smile, which often played around his lips when teasing his children, or Maria.
But, I think the key to the whole issue lies in my favourite scene. This is the ball scene, where Maria is standing outside with the children, and Kurt asks her to teach him the Ländler. Captain von Trapp comes outside, all done up in his tuxedo, watches Maria and Kurt for a bit, smiles to himself, pulls up his gloves and taps his son on the shoulder. There’s that slightly wicked smile again, and the sarcastic drawl as he mutters, ‘Do allow me, will you?’ He and Maria start to dance. There’s a point when the music slows, and the choreography of the dance requires Maria to walk behind Captain von Trapp, and put her hand on his shoulder. He takes her hand and swirls her round until their arms are entwined, their faces inches away from a kiss, and they gaze into each other’s eyes with sudden surprise and understanding that they love the other.
I was asked by a male acquaintance at the beginning of the year why girls, ‘liked all that stuff’. He seemed very put out (though, in all honesty, he’s a little bit like these blokes anyway, in that he’s arrogant and emotionally unavailable – that’s another story – so, I can’t see why he’s so worried). It does seem confusing that we spend so much time telling men that they have to be nice to us, that they should buy us flowers and tell us they love us all the time, but then the men we swoon over in the movies are the arrogant twats who at best, ignore the heroines, and at worst, insult them to their faces.
Christopher Plummer himself, very famously, found the character of von Trapp, and the entire movie, stereotypical and despicable.
But, the various comments under the video of the Ländler scene on YouTube couldn’t be clearer about the effect this type of man has on many women:
‘He might be 80 years old, but Christopher Plummer is still dashing.’ (38 ‘likes’)
‘Grew up waiting, hoping, wishing for a man to look at me the way Chris does her.’ (26 ‘likes’)
‘Chemistry like you wouldn’t believe. Absolute fav moment in the movie.’
The fact is, as I said to my friend at the start of the year, many of us women still love the romance of melting a hard man, or forcing him to show his soft side (I did mention my love of Tom Selleck holding a baby, didn’t I?) There seems to be no more romantic gesture, than for a man to, in the words of ABBA, ‘don’t go sharing your devotion, lay all your love on me.’ A man who turns up his nose at the whole world and all women, but is still completely besotted by one special lady is the ultimate dream. We want to believe that we are the only person that could bring a smile to his lips, the only thing in this wide world he could ever love. Apart from being romantic (and ego-stroking), it’s a comforting thought. The man who hates the world, but loves us, is unlikely to stray or to cheat.
As much as I would like to say, as a feminist, as a mature, realistic, down-to-earth and independent woman, I am looking for a relationship of equals, built on friendship, trust and shared values, and I don’t need any man to build up my sense of self-worth, I’ve been too brainwashed by old-school Hollywood moments. And, that, embarrassingly, I’m going to go watch The Sound of Music again.