This is the part where I'm supposed to renounce my prior disdain for the movie and admit I just didn't know what I was missing, isn't it? Sorry, kids, but the best I can do on that front is just to say that it wasn't as bad as I had been bracing myself for.
The main problem I had was Saint Maria. She was just too good to be true -- and this was even after I'd just watched "Practically Perfect" Mary Poppins. It wasn't Maria herself, or Julie Andrews' portrayal, that I had a problem with; what bothered me most was the way that other characters talked about her, particularly the other nuns. "How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?" Really? I hate it when characters' flaws are excused or benevolently tolerated for no reason. Even in a children's story, I think it just makes that character feel flat.
The story itself felt like it should have been two different movies. First there's a would-be nun acting as governess to a widower's children; she gains the children's trust and falls in love with her employer, and there are a few mentions of the political climate strewn about here and there. They live happily ever after until someone decides the movie was too short, so hold on a second -- there's Nazis! Maybe it was because I'd expected the main plot to be about the family's escape from occupied Austria, but the entire ending felt tacked-on to me.
Maybe if I'd grown up with this movie, I would have liked it better. I did enjoy parts of it, but it isn't a film I'd actively seek out to watch again.