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mplo
Member
Posts: 11

West Side Story, for me, is a timeless classic.  Not only is it my alltime favorite movie...hands down, but I never get tired of seeing this great, golden oldie but keeper of a movie classic over and over and over again.  With very rare exceptions, I go to see WSS every time it comes to an independent movie theatre in my area, or even in neighboring states.  The one time that I had to miss a screening of West Side Story in my area was in mid-March of 2001, when a Sunday afternoon screening of it conflicted directly with my (late) dad's memorial, so I didn't go to see it that afternoon.  However, I've made up for it by going to see other screenings of West Side Story not only at that same movie theatre, but in other theatres in and around Boston, as well as elsewhere.  I've even made road trips to New York, New Hampshire, and Western Massachusetts to see it.  

West Side Story not only has an excellent cast, but an excellent (albeit brilliant) musical score as well.  The beautifully-choreographed dancing and the richly-colored costumes, photography and general cinematography, as well as the dynamic story behind West Side Story also helped make this classic as beautiful and dynamic as it is.  

The cast members that stand out even more than others, however, are Rita Moreno as the fiery, fiesty Anita, George Chakiris as the equally fiery but sardonic Shark gangleader, Bernardo, and Jose De Vega, as Bernardo's friend and righthand man, Chino, a fellow Sharks member.  Tucker Smith is fabulous as the calm, cool and collected Ice, David Winters plays A-Rab beautifully, and so does Eliot Feld, as the youngest and most immature Jets member, Baby-John.  Simon Oakland is excellent as the bitter, bigoted Lt. Schrank, who clearly doesn't like the Jets much better than he likes the Sharks, and Bill Bramley is also good as the equally cynical but quieter Ofcr. Krupke.  

Based on Shakespeare's renowned Romeo & Juliet, and set on  the West Side of1950's-1960's finger-snapping, pulsating New York City, West Side Story is a feast for the eyes, mind, ears, heart and soul.  Although I was first introduced to West Side Story through the music to the original Broadway stage version of this musical, while attending day camp out in the western part of the United States, during the summer of 1962, prior to entering the sixth grade, I would not get to see the film version of West Side Story until six years later, when my high school years were coming to a close, at around Christmastime of 1968, at a now-defunct cinema 45 minutes north of Boston.  I not only loved the music when I first heard it, but I instantly loved the film, as well.  

Since I was still a high school teenager when I first saw West Side Story on screen, I was able to identify with the Jets, the Sharks and their girls regarding kids being kids and so on, but when I got a little older and began seeing West Side Story in independent movie theatres in and around Boston, I started to see this great classic film in a somewhat different light.  Although I still love the story behing WSS,  I also came to appreciate (and still appreciate it) the film West Side Story for the remarkablly true work of art that it is.  

Although West Side Story is also enjoyable when it's shown on TV, this great classic film cries for a great big, wide movie theatre screen, with lights that're down low, and lots of other people to share the experience with.   West Side Story seems to take on a magical, almost 3-dimensional quality when shown on a great big, wide movie theatre screen, the way it's truly meant  to be viewed.  The scenery seems more expansive, and one can see all of everything.  The intensely brilliant Bernstein musical score seems all the more brilliant, as does the beautifully-choreographed dancing by (the late) Jerome Robbins, and the richly-colored costumes, photography and general cinematography.

From the warring Jets and Sharks to the romancing Tony and Maria, the various characters in West Side Story seem to move much more fluidly and freely,  and in a much wider, more open space.   I also might add that West Side Story earned every single one of the ten Academy Awards that it won when it was first released into the movie theatres 51 years ago this month.  Although I never got to see it when it first came out, I have more than made up for it by going to see it every time the opportunity comes up.  The screenings of West Side Story that I've attended include the special 40th-year Anniversary screening of it at NYC's renowned Radio City Music Hall back in early October of 2001, less than a month after the horrific 9/11 attacks on the WTC Towers and the Pentagon.  I drove down to the Big Apple from Boston that Saturday morning specially to see WSS, as well as to see old friends and relatives.  What a Saturday night out that was!  Radio City Music Hall was packed with an exuberant, friendly crowd, with much finger-snapping and applause from the audience.  The film West Side Story had been cleaned up, reprinted, remastered and restored to its former beauty, color and glory, looking as pristine and beautiful as new!  It was wonderful that, less than a month after the freaky, scary events of 9/11, 5-6, 000 people could get together for such a fun-filled, spectacular evening.  

Since 2001 was such a weird year, and a bad year for films, generally, and was saddened by the death of my dad after 1.5 years of a long illness, this splendid evening of seeing old friends and relatives, a momentary change of scenery, and the seeing of a wonderful movie (West Side Story) gave me a much-needed lift.  

Five years later, I once again drove down to the Big Apple for yet another screening of West Side Story.  This time, it played at the Clearview/Ziegfeld cinema, in mid-town Manhattan, on the West SIde.  My cousin, who lives in a condo in an upper West Side neighborhood of Manhattan, and I both took in Tuesday night's screening of West Side Story, and we both enjoyed it,,,immensely.  She let me stay in her condo for a couple of nights, and in return for her hospitality and her having obtained the tickets online for me, which I hadn't been able to do on my own computer, for some weird reasons, I'd brought along some homemade chocolate pound cake and cranberry juice to share, and tuned her piano for her.  

After a number of other screenings of West Side Story, a friend/neighbor and I attended the national 50th-year Anniversary re-release event here in Boston...and had a wonderful time, and afew days later, I saw another screening of WSS, at the Coolidge Corner theatre here in Brookline, Ma.

Due to my intense love for West Side Story, I'm hard-pressed to pick out any favorite scenes/songs, let alone favorite cast members, but I do think that the songs that really stood out for me were the prologue/Jet Song, America, Cool, Dance at the Gym, Ofcr. Krupke, the pre-Rumble Quintet, and the Rumble itself.  

Those who said that there'd never be a film like West Side Story again were right.  To paraphrase the MGM phrase  "Unlike other classics, West Side Story grows younger."  It's so true!



October 19, 2012 at 11:25 AM Flag Quote & Reply

mplo
Member
Posts: 11

Pardon my rambling.  I was in sort of a rambling mood this morning1:)

October 19, 2012 at 11:25 AM Flag Quote & Reply

kat
Member
Posts: 2

  Not sure if my reply came through, so I'll repeat it:  I agree that it seems to detract from the story-line to remove that last scene where the Jets and Sharks join together in removing Tony's body - it ended the story with a feeling of hope, of the gangs learning from their mistakes maybe, with the realisation that things could be different in future. 

I have never watched a live version of WSS or even the movie on the big screen, only on my own tv at home!  And it is still fantastic!!


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October 20, 2012 at 2:31 AM Flag Quote & Reply

kat
Member
Posts: 2

I keep deleting my posts - so this time I will keep it very simple (nothing more annoying than spending ages creating a message that just gets deleted)!
I agree, there is something about WSS that is current as well as being romantic and of another era...I was born in 68 and we seem to have lost so much over the years - movies are now a dime a dozen - but really good classics seem to live on, especially (for me, anyway) West Side Story.  I loved Bernardo and Anita in America, Russ and the Jets in Officer K,  the Jets in Cool ...It was all brilliant!

The lyrics were timeless, the casting was great, the acting superb...thank-you to all those who contributed to such a classic,

Kat xxx













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October 20, 2012 at 3:49 AM Flag Quote & Reply

mplo
Member
Posts: 11

kat at October 20, 2012 at 2:31 AM

  Not sure if my reply came through, so I'll repeat it:  I agree that it seems to detract from the story-line to remove that last scene where the Jets and Sharks join together in removing Tony's body - it ended the story with a feeling of hope, of the gangs learning from their mistakes maybe, with the realisation that things could be different in future. 

I have never watched a live version of WSS or even the movie on the big screen, only on my own tv at home!  And it is still fantastic!!


Hi there, Kat!  Thanks for both of your replies to my post!  Sorry I'm late in replying to you.  I've had lots of stuff on my mind and got rather side-tracked.  Again, my apologies.  Both of your replies about what West Side Story signifies, and how beautiful a musical it is.  I've seen West Side Story both on screen (in movie theatres as well as on TV) and on stage, and it's an equally beautiful musical on both screen and on stage, although I was more critical of the more up to date, modernized Broadway stage revival of West SIde Story.  

As somebody who was born in the early 1950's,  I agree that a lot has been lost regarding making movies, especially nowadays, and that movies really do come a dime a dozen now.  What's equally unbelievable is that today's movies end up on DVD and/or Blu-Ray almost as soon as they hit the movie theatres.  

Most movies, including West Side Story, definitely carried the message of people being accountable for their actions and behaviors, and the possible learning from mistakes, so that reconciliation between people, although often difficult, is still possible nonetheless.  That's the beauty of West Side Story.  

West Side Story, does, admittedly carry a double-edged message;  on the one hand, it succinctly points out the deleterious consequences of racial and ethnic hatred and the ensuing violence that it all too often begets.   Just as importantly, West Side Story, unlike many, if not most other movies about gangs and gangsterism, doesn't glorify gang violence.  Instead, it points out that the arrogance and hubris that ultimately lead up to gang violence, as well as the gang violence itself, is an exercise in futility that results in no winners, but only losers.  


November 5, 2012 at 6:22 PM Flag Quote & Reply

mplo
Member
Posts: 11

kat at October 20, 2012 at 3:49 AM

I keep deleting my posts - so this time I will keep it very simple (nothing more annoying than spending ages creating a message that just gets deleted)!
I agree, there is something about WSS that is current as well as being romantic and of another era...I was born in 68 and we seem to have lost so much over the years - movies are now a dime a dozen - but really good classics seem to live on, especially (for me, anyway) West Side Story.  I loved Bernardo and Anita in America, Russ and the Jets in Officer K,  the Jets in Cool ...It was all brilliant!

The lyrics were timeless, the casting was great, the acting superb...thank-you to all those who contributed to such a classic,

Kat xxx













You're absolutely right, Kat!  To quote the late Bosley Crowther of the NYT:  "West Side  Story is a timeless masterpiece"    A couple of years ago, when I took several friends of mine who'd never seen West SIde Story before to a screening at an independent, non-profit movie theatre in our area,  we not only all had a great time, but one of the women who was with us kept quoting Bosley Crowther's above-mentioned NYT quote  "It's a timeless masterpiece".  It was funny to listen to that, but I've still got to hand it to this woman for being right on her money, if one gets the drift.

You're right, Kat!  Great classics, such as West  Side Story do seem to live on and on, in people's memories, hearts and minds.

November 5, 2012 at 6:27 PM Flag Quote & Reply

WestSideFan2
Member
Posts: 1

I agree. Timeless classic. Love this film. I cry every time. and the dancing. And the Score. Dont forget the cast.

June 4, 2014 at 7:13 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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