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Maria, a postulant in a Salzburg Abbey, is distracted from her religious duties by the majestic Alpine landscape and her restless, passionate spirit. The mother abbess, believing that maria's buoyant personality may be incompatible with monastic life, wisely sends her away to discover her true calling.
Maria is to be the governess for the von Trapp family-a brood of seven children helmed by captain von Trapp, a widowed naval officer who educates his children with military discipline. While the children behave well before their father, once out of his sight they are incorrigible pranksters, determined to make their governess miserable. Maria quickly learns that she is merely the latest in a long line of governesses scared away by the children's antics.
Ignoring the Captain's prescriptiions for stern child-raising, Maria wins the childre ove with her natural warmth and kindness.