The Sound of Music Story: How A Beguiling Young Novice, A Handsome Austrian Captain, and Ten Singing von Trapp Children Inspired the Most Beloved Film of All Time by Tom Santopietro:
A consummate team player, McCord even contributed to the number in a fashion having nothing to do with his work as cinematographer. As shooting dragged on, the painstaking and gentlemanly McCord realized that the inexperienced, tired, and generally out of sorts Duane Chase simply could not provide the necessary ear-to-ear smile required by Wise for one shot in the number. In stepped McCord, not with any change in lighting, but rather, with antics behind the camera that made Chase not just smile but grin. A veteran Academy Award-nominated cinematographer making an inexperienced child actor laugh for the sake of the shot—it all boded well for Wise’s team-oriented approach.
Chase’s grin had been successfully captured but that was just one shot among dozens required by the number. The much bigger problem lay in the fact that the number was designed to show Maria bonding with the children through music, yet having just met the seven young actors, Julie Andrews barely knew their names. To further complicate matters, it quickly became apparent that during each and every scene with the children, Julie Andrews would have to be at the peak of her game on every single take—no matter how many—in case the take in question should happen to be the one in which all of the children hit their marks and struck the right emotional notes. The children could and would stumble, overstep their marks, and miss their cues, but Julie Andrews needed to be letter perfect. Every time. Said Charmian Carr: “I never saw her make a mistake.”