The movie came out in 1965, so it is not possible that I remember its first screenings (I would have only been a year old), but I clearly remember going to see it as a young boy (maybe this was a Tenth-Anniversary reissue or something). And it was a really big deal.
We met up at the theater with my grandparents and my aunt (and her daughters) and a few other family members - about 15 of us in all. And everybody (not just us, but everybody) was dressed up in their “Sunday best.” The theater was packed - every seat was sold. For a film in an ordinary local theater - not some grand movie palace. All of this was completely new to me - a movie was something that I went to with just my parents, in whatever clothes I had worn to school that day. There was a buzz of excitement that really raised my expectations (which were, initially, very low - I mean, c’mon - the name of the movie was The Sound of Music. How dumb is that?)
Alas, as a young boy, a lot of the movie was beyond my interests (and I may have dozed off for parts of it - it was rather late). I left the theater disappointed and bewildered at the praise that my older family were gushing with. I mean, there wasn’t even a decent car chase (and I had no idea what an ignition coil was - if I had known, I might have realized (and appreciated) WHY there was no car chase).
Now, of course, I understand. I understand everything. I understand this is one of the great musicals of all time.