In Salzburg, Austria, the hardworking nuns of the Nonnberg Abbey sing their devotions. But young postulant Maria is thoughtlessly playing hooky, singing and twirling about on a nearby mountainside, without a care in the world.

She doesn’t notice the whole day’s gone by until the church bells ring. She races back and returns late, as usual. The Mother Abbess and the other nuns are at their wits’ end as to how to rein in the “problem of Maria.” She’s unpredictable, messy and disheveled, always late except for meals, she sings and whistles and dances in improper situations, and she’s generally a huge distraction. She is “not an asset to the abbey.” They go so far as to call her a clown, a headache, a pest, and even a demon.

A solution comes in the form of Austro-Hungarian Navy submarine Captain Georg von Trapp.

The handsome widower needs a governess for his seven children. The Mother Abbess sits Maria down and suggests that she “should spend some time outside the abbey to decide whether you’re ready for the monastic life,” which is code for “Woot! Girl’s outta my hair!” No one seems to care that Maria has zero experience educating children; they’re just happy to see her go.

In fact, the Mother Abbess doesn’t even buy Maria a bus ticket, instead making her walk the distance to the Captain’s villa, lugging her huge carpetbag and guitar case along the dusty roads.

Captain von Trapp explains Maria’s duties to her and summons the children with a boatswain’s whistle. They are the treasured living reminders of his deceased wife. The image of obedience and military correctness, they arrive wearing spotless matching uniforms.

He tries teaching her each child’s individual call, but she can barely hide her disdain. The flighty whirling dervish Maria immediately and openly disapproves of such order and focus, and begins subverting the Captain’s authority at every turn.

Maria’s shabby clothes are such an embarrassment that the horrified housekeeper gives Maria some material with orders to make herself some new clothes. Apparently she had given all her possessions to the poor, not thinking to keep a single nice thing for her new job at a freakin’ PALATIAL MANSION.

The moment the Captain leaves for a month of military duty, all the rules of the household are thrown out the window.

The eldest girl, Liesl, sneaks out to have a romantic tryst with an older boy. When Liesl returns, slipping in through the window, soaking wet and out of breath, Maria lets it slide, conspiring against the Captain in something she knows he would have deeply disapproved of, to keep Liesl’s secret and further gain her trust.

When the other children are frightened by the storm, does Maria tell them they’re perfectly safe and have nothing to fear? No, instead she breaks into a stupid song about all the shit she loves. Thanks, that was helpful.

The next day, instead of lessons, Maria wants to go out and play in the mud. She ditches the children’s perfectly good matching uniforms, preferring instead to fashion for them a much uglier set of matching uniforms. And what to use for material? Why, ugly curtains, of course!

Was this humiliating enough? No! Maria then drags the children all throughout the city sporting their new, ugly matching uniforms.

And then, as if THAT wasn’t humiliating enough, as she force-marched them around town, they all had to sing a ridiculous song made up of inane non-words, ALL DAY LONG.


And THEN, as if THAT wasn’t humiliating enough, they arrive home via an overloaded canoe, which tips them all into the river, right in front of the returning Captain and his lovely companion Elsa and their friend Max.


Despite being dripping wet, Maria immediately recognizes a threat in Elsa.

Sensing Maria’s treachery, Elsa confides to Max that “something” is preventing the Captain from proposing to her. Liesl’s boyfriend, a telegram messenger, lurks around stalking Liesl under the guise of delivering a telegram, greeting the family with a smart “Heil Hitler.” The Austrian Captain is unperturbed, not being German, and having no knowledge of his daughter’s hidden romance.

Maria and the children slosh past, wearing their sodden old-drapes “playclothes.”

Rightfully infuriated, the Captain sends them off to change. Maria has the gall to tell her boss that he doesn’t love his own children, and he angrily fires her, ordering her back to the abbey.

Finally chagrined, she attempts an apology, but is interrupted by the rapturous singing of the children welcoming Elsa to the household. As von Trapp warms to the domestic scene with Elsa, Maria’s manipulation is complete, as he reconsiders his hastiness and asks Maria to stay. She has gained mastery over the children, but there is still the Captain to win. Elsa is understandably suspicious of her intentions until Maria coyly assures her that she will be returning to the abbey soon.

Maria and the children host a charming and elaborate puppet theater for their father and his lady friend. All the while, Maria may as well have been singing to Elsa, “See how they love me? I’ve won their little hearts and minds already. Face it; you’re not mothering material.”

The Captain throws a grand party to introduce Elsa. Maria uses Kurt, another of the children, to get close to the Captain, in the guise of teaching Kurt to dance. As she knew he would, the Captain steps in to demonstrate. Despite the fact that she’s still a postulant, she takes the opportunity to shamelessly flirt with her boss directly under the gazes of Elsa and the guests.


Brigitta (another of the children), while discussing the expected marriage of Elsa to her father, tells Maria that she should step away, seeing as they are very much in love with each other. Ever the narcissist, Maria somehow twists this to interpret that the Captain is in love with her. The children, back under their father’s steadying influence, obediently say goodnight to the guests with a cute song. Max is amazed at their talent and wants them for the Kaltzberg Music Festival, which he is organizing.

While no one is looking, Maria slips out the front door with her luggage without leaving so much as a note to explain her sudden abandonment of her position.

Back at the abbey, Maria says that she is ready to take her monastic vows. But the Mother Abbess isn’t having ANY of that. She and all the nuns have been thoroughly enjoying the peace and quiet that followed Maria’s departure. A master manipulator herself, the Mother Abbess convinces Maria that she’s running away from her feelings and must face the Captain and discover if they love each other. Maria must search for and find the life she was meant to live. AWAY from the abbey.

Max tries to get the children prepared for their performance at the Kaltzberg Festival, but Maria has so brainwashed them with her inane music teaching style that when the Captain tries to lead them, they complain that he is not doing it right. Von Trapp tells them that he has asked Elsa to marry him. The children are so happy and relieved, they break into a round of song, but are silenced when they hear Maria approaching to rejoin them. She doesn’t flinch when she hears of the wedding plans, saying she would stay only until the Captain could arrange for another governess.

She didn’t have to wait very long, as World War II intervened. Max and Elsa argue with the Captain about the inevitable German occupation of Austria, trying to convince him to be sensible, for the sake and safety of his family. The Germans very much wanted to commission the Captain into their navy as an officer, an almost unheard-of honor. When he refuses to even compromise, Elsa tearfully breaks off the engagement, knowing she couldn’t bear the strain of constantly worrying for his safety.

Finally, alone with her quarry, Maria swoops in on the heartbroken Captain.

As the couple marries, the giddy nuns reprise their “problem with Maria” song during the wedding processional. Gotta love those bitches. Despite all of his concern for the children during this dangerous time, the Captain traipses out of town on honeymoon with his new bride.

Max, left to care for the entire household, gets some shit about not flying the Nazi flag. The Captain and Maria magnanimously return early from their honeymoon ahead of the Festival. How sweet.

Suddenly, because of the Nazi occupation which has literally been a foregone conclusion for months, von Trapp refuses to allow the children to sing, totally screwing over his friend Max. Liesl’s messenger boyfriend enters the villa like he owns the place. Equally blind as her father, Liesl is amazed that her squeeze is a committed Nazi.

If only her father had known of her dalliances earlier. Boyfriend delivers a telegram for the Captain explaining that the German Navy holds him in high regard, extends him an officer’s commission, and orders him to report immediately to Bremerhaven to assume command. He ignores the telegram, prompting a damn Admiral to pay a personal visit to find out why Captain Von Trapp has so rudely not replied.

Instead of sensibly complying, the Captain and Maria secretly decide that they must flee Austria on foot. And even less sensibly, Maria insists that they can’t leave before they all sing in the stupid Festival, natch. Amazingly, the Admiral agrees to wait.

Everybody sings at the damn Festival which is so important they must risk their lives. Austria’s national flower Edelweiss is revered as a symbol of loyalty to the country. Despite being thrown under a bus, ever-faithful Max prompts an encore, announcing that this would be the von Trapp family’s last chance to sing together. An honor guard waits to escort the Captain to his new command. Max stalls for time as much as possible for some incomprehensible reason, considering how he’s been treated. Finally, he announces that the first prize goes to the von Trapps. But the Captain has shirked his duty, probably under the nefarious influence of his new young wife. The family fails to appear on stage and the Nazis begin a search.

Just when the Mother Abbess thought she’d gotten rid of the Maria problem, it re-appears at the abbey’s doorstep to hide along with seven children plus a husband, a housekeeper, and a butler. The borders are closed. Still hoping to somehow be rid of Maria for good, the Mother Abbess does a shitty job of hiding them, but in her defense they are ELEVEN people, fer fucksakes. When the Nazis search the abbey, Liesl’s Nazi boyfriend easily finds them and calls his lieutenant, but then sees Liesl among the hidden, and reports that he has found no one after all. Perhaps Maria’s treachery has finally paid off, in trade for the boyfriend’s treachery.

After that narrow escape, acclimated mountain girl Maria forces the entire family, including a five-year-old girl, to flee over the snowy 15,000-foot Alps. The story thankfully ends before the exposed and inexperienced family inevitably becomes a sequel to the Donner party.

As the credits roll, the mountains echo with the nuns’ joyous singing of “Climb Every Mountain.”