In turn I have become suspicious of the easy jadedness of critics when they lament about sentimentality in movies. Not everything has to be muscular and restrained and morose — masculinist standards that are also responsible for the demonising of romance novels and the films of Nora Ephron. Properly handled, sentimentality has its place in popular culture — and Robert Wise has done nothing short of a miracle in the handling of it in "The Sound of Music."
During my sophomore year in college, nine or ten of us crammed our cabooses into my friend Erin's dorm room to watch "The Sound of Music" on TV, and we sang along to every song sans shame or irony. Obviously it was a glorious evening. A couple of years later, as our final project for a speech class, Erin and I gave a 20-minute presentation on "The Sound of Music," punctuated by audio samples on a cassette recorder to illustrate various narrative themes. (This following a speech on eugenics.) Obviously we got an A; it was a huge hit student-wise and the professor thanked us when we finished. And I'm not boasting about the quality of our shtick—which btw really was aces—I'm talking about the subject of it. I'm talking about the power of a shared reference point, the kind that you carry with you through life, that little tuning fork of recognition that taps the heart and rings out "this was the year" or "this was the place" or "these were the friends": people need joy, treacly or not, in whatever form it takes.