All Things West Side Story

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Since West Side Story is my alltime favorite film, I decided to also do some thinking about what some of the songs in this great classic mean. I'll start with the following:

A) Something's Comin': Although this may seem like one of the dullest numbers in WSS to many people, it actually carries a rather powerful message that helps to set the tone for what follows during the rest of West Side Story. Tony, who's broken away from the Jets due to other emotions, predicts that Something's Comin', but doesn't knowwhat it is.

"Somethin's comin'--I don't know what it is,
But it is gonna be great"
"The air is hummin'--and somethin' great is comin' "

The above-mentioned phrase is a clear prediction that something
is coming that's extremely intense, both good and bad. So, Tony may have been unconsciously predicting his meeting and falling in love with Maria, only to have their love go up in smoke shortly afterwards.

B) Tonight: This is one of the most intense songs in an already-intense classic with a powerful message to it. However, the song Tonight is sort of a continuation of a prediction: that this particular night will be different; Tony and Maria will be seeing each other, but who knows what will come of it?

"Tonight, Tonight, won't be just any night.
'Tonight there will be no morning star"
Tonight, tonight, I'll see my love tonight,
And for us, stars will stop where they are."

The above phrasing, I believe, sums this unpredictable prediction up quite well. The excitement of meeting each other, crossing over the racial/ethnic barriers and falling in love despite taboos from both sides, is followed by the destruction of Tony and Maria's love as a result.



"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."



A) Something's Comin': Although this may seem like one of the dullest numbers in WSS to many people, it actually carries a rather powerful message that helps to set the tone for what follows during the rest of West Side Story. Tony, who's broken away from the Jets due to other emotions, predicts that Something's Comin', but doesn't knowwhat it is.

"Somethin's comin'--I don't know what it is,
But it is gonna be great"
"The air is hummin'--and somethin' great is comin' "

The above-mentioned phrase is a clear prediction that something
is coming that's extremely intense, both good and bad. So, Tony may have been unconsciously predicting his meeting and falling in love with Maria, only to have their love go up in smoke shortly afterwards.
Something’s Comin’ dull????? Nothing of the sort, WSSlover! It’s a jingling, toe-tapping number with the ratatat sounds of garbage cans being emptied and the horn-blast of a passing car, growing louder as it approaches and fading as it goes. It’s got the yearning of youth for something special, something exciting to lift them from their everyday world. It’s full of hope and self-confidence that whatever is coming can be mastered and tamed and put to use. And like all the songs in WSS, the lyrics have the sound of kids talking. There’s the ya-ya-ya taunting in Gee, Officer Krupke and the finger-snapping macho coolness of Cool (a personal favorite). But mostly I love the Spanish beat in America and Maria, and the lonesome longing of unrequited love and dashed hopes in Somewhere.

Hollywood had to change some of the lyrics to several songs because they were too racy or too racial, and they shuffled the numbers to a different sequence in the story—having one song before the fight instead of after, that sort of thing. Still, it’s a great musical on either stage or screen. I just wish they had cast real singers in the lead roles for the movie. The role of Tony was offered to Elvis but his manager Col. Tom Parker made him turn it down. When the film later won all those awards, Elvis was sorry he didn’t take the role—could have made a big difference in his Hollywood career. (Elvis also was considered but Parker rejected the role of the kid brother in The Rainmaker that made Earl Holliman a movie star.)

Others considered for the role of Tony included Warren Beatty, Tab Hunter, Anthony Perkins, Burt Reynolds, Troy Donahue, Bobby Darin, Richard Chamberlain, and Gary Lockwood. Darin was negotiating for the role but couldn’t work it in around his singing tours. I’d love to have heard Darin doing the WSS songs! Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood became lovers while filming Splendor in the Grass and she came with him when he auditioned for the part. She helped out at the audition by reading Maria’s dialogue to his Tony, and the producers signed her for Maria’s part.



Something’s Comin’ dull????? Nothing of the sort, WSSlover! It’s a jingling, toe-tapping number with the ratatat sounds of garbage cans being emptied and the horn-blast of a passing car, growing louder as it approaches and fading as it goes. It’s got the yearning of youth for something special, something exciting to lift them from their everyday world. It’s full of hope and self-confidence that whatever is coming can be mastered and tamed and put to use. And like all the songs in WSS, the lyrics have the sound of kids talking. There’s the ya-ya-ya taunting in Gee, Officer Krupke and the finger-snapping macho coolness of Cool (a personal favorite). But mostly I love the Spanish beat in America and Maria, and the lonesome longing of unrequited love and dashed hopes in Somewhere.

Hollywood had to change some of the lyrics to several songs because they were too racy or too racial, and they shuffled the numbers to a different sequence in the story—having one song before the fight instead of after, that sort of thing. Still, it’s a great musical on either stage or screen. I just wish they had cast real singers in the lead roles for the movie. The role of Tony was offered to Elvis but his manager Col. Tom Parker made him turn it down. When the film later won all those awards, Elvis was sorry he didn’t take the role—could have made a big difference in his Hollywood career. (Elvis also was considered but Parker rejected the role of the kid brother in The Rainmaker that made Earl Holliman a movie star.)

Others considered for the role of Tony included Warren Beatty, Tab Hunter, Anthony Perkins, Burt Reynolds, Troy Donahue, Bobby Darin, Richard Chamberlain, and Gary Lockwood. Darin was negotiating for the role but couldn’t work it in around his singing tours. I’d love to have heard Darin doing the WSS songs! Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood became lovers while filming Splendor in the Grass and she came with him when he auditioned for the part. She helped out at the audition by reading Maria’s dialogue to his Tony, and the producers signed her for Maria’s part.
Hey....thanks for all the info, rufnek. I'm aware that Elvis Presley was offered the part of Tony, but had to turn it down. Elvis Presley would've made an excellent Tony, imo, because he had the singing voice and the tough-but-tender looks of an ex-gangster. Yet, at the same time, if the winds of chance had turned and Elvis Presley had gotten the part of Tony, would West Side Story retained its specialness, or would it have become just another Elvis Presley flick, and therefore been rendered more trite and somewhat cheapened? Nobody really knows. Natalie Wood, imo, did OK as Maria. Due to my intense love for this film, it's hard for me to pinpoint any favorite scene/song(s), but the America, Cool and Dance at the Gym scenes stood out for me, as did the pre-Rumble Quintet and the Rumble itself. I actually like the fact that the orders of the Officer Krupke and the Cool scenes were changed around for the film version. It makes it a great story, as well as a great musical. rufnek, I totally agree with you that West Side Story is a great musical both on stage and on screen. Many people also forget that the film version of WSS is what helped popularize this great musical. All of the above having been said, I've got to admit that, even though West Side Story is presumably about teenagers, I still love this film as much as I did when I first saw it, back in December 1968, as a high school senior, already after the heyday of its newness and popularity, and shortly before it went on TV. I also agree with much of the other stuff that you said about WSS, too. I couldn't have put it more articulately myself. Thanks again, rufnek.



Hey....thanks for all the info, rufnek. I'm aware that Elvis Presley was offered the part of Tony, but had to turn it down. Elvis Presley would've made an excellent Tony, imo, because he had the singing voice and the tough-but-tender looks of an ex-gangster. Yet, at the same time, if the winds of chance had turned and Elvis Presley had gotten the part of Tony, would West Side Story retained its specialness, or would it have become just another Elvis Presley flick . . .
I'm not an Elvis fan (the Killer--Jerry Lee Lewis--is more my type of singer), but I've always felt that he could have done better if Col. Parker had let him do material that he had to rise to--such as the music of West Side Story. Or if he had been teamed with some real actors like Burt Lancaster and Katherine Hepburn and Wendell Corey in The Rainmaker. Elvis's best chance to prove his acting ability, I think, was in King Creole with pros like Walter Mathau, Carolyn Jones, and especially Vic Morrow. But he wasn't properly prepared--he could have used some acting lessons.

My pick of the bunch considered would have been Bobby Darin who could both sing and act. He was nominated for an Oscar for his role in Captain Newman, M.D. and was a standout in Pressure Point in which he and Sidney Portier were the two people most on the screen (there was talk of a possible Oscar for that role, in what I think was Darin's first--or one of his first--films; don't think he was nominated, however). He was also a hell of a singer who could deliver on Big Band numbers as well as quiet ballads. Plus he had the neighborhood background of Tony and the rest of the Jets.

Anthony Perkins would have been my second choice for Tony, just to see what he would have done with the role. He's thin for a street fighter, but his indecision would have been right on for the torn Tony.

Natalie Wood, imo, did OK as Maria.
My only complaint about Natalie was that she was just OK. She didn't convince me she was Puerto Rican, however, just a nice American girl in a lot of pancake makeup. Didn't even come as close to the image as did George Chakaris (whatever!) in his role. It would have been daring and so much more admirable if Hollywood actually had gone out and found a young Hispanic woman who was also an experienced singer-dancer-actor. for that role. They already had one in Rita Moreno, so I know they were out there, probably looking for work in Hollywood and on Broadway. (Both found real Asians for Flower Drum Song, and there are more Hispanics than Asians in this country. Surely Rita could have recommended a friend!)

Barring that, I still wish they had picked leads who could actually sing the songs instead of just lip-syncing like American Bandstand.
Having said that, however, I wonder what Audrey Hepburn would have been like in the role of Maria. She was after the part at one time. She couldn't sing, either, yet sparkled in the film version of My Fair Lady.

Due to my intense love for this film, it's hard for me to pinpoint any favorite scene/song(s), but the America, Cool and Dance at the Gym scenes stood out for me, as did the pre-Rumble Quintet and the Rumble itself.
I always smile at that gym dance scene because I've lived that moment at a community recreation hall dance on the south side of San Antonio when I was about 14 or so. Hispanics on one side of the floor, anglos on the other and God help anyone who accidentally bumped a couple of the opposite culture on the dance floor or who danced too close to the other side of the room. And the last thing you ever wanted to do was to go into the restrooms! I wasn't nearly as cool and clever as the WSS cast--I was just damned scared. For dance scenes, however, I really like the power and fun of "America."

I actually like the fact that the orders of the Officer Krupke and the Cool scenes were changed around for the film version. It makes it a great story, as well as a great musical.
Yeah, I think Hollywood actually improved the flow of the story by changing the sequence of several of the musical numbers. For instance, it makes sense for "I Feel Pretty" to come earlier in the movie when Maria's hopes and spirits are high instead of later as her troubles develop.

As for the music itself, just look at how many popular songs came out of that movie that are still standards! If you don't already have it, I urge you to hunt down a record album (I doubt if it's on tape or CD) of West Side Story by Stan Kenton. Kenton put together a large jazz ensemble to play the WSS score as specially arranged by Johnnie Richards and it is spectacular. Leonard Bernstein did an orchestra version of his score and that's great, but Kenton's jazzier version with soloists really takes the music to the streets. That's what I had in mind when talking about "Something's Comin'" earlier. The horns have that sound of passing traffic and the cymbals copy the rattle of trash cans. It's a real treat. All instrumental, of course, but boy how that music soars!



I'm not an Elvis fan (the Killer--Jerry Lee Lewis--is more my type of singer), but I've always felt that he could have done better if Col. Parker had let him do material that he had to rise to--such as the music of West Side Story. Or if he had been teamed with some real actors like Burt Lancaster and Katherine Hepburn and Wendell Corey in The Rainmaker. Elvis's best chance to prove his acting ability, I think, was in King Creole with pros like Walter Mathau, Carolyn Jones, and especially Vic Morrow. But he wasn't properly prepared--he could have used some acting lessons.

My pick of the bunch considered would have been Bobby Darin who could both sing and act. He was nominated for an Oscar for his role in Captain Newman, M.D. and was a standout in Pressure Point in which he and Sidney Portier were the two people most on the screen (there was talk of a possible Oscar for that role, in what I think was Darin's first--or one of his first--films; don't think he was nominated, however). He was also a hell of a singer who could deliver on Big Band numbers as well as quiet ballads. Plus he had the neighborhood background of Tony and the rest of the Jets.

Anthony Perkins would have been my second choice for Tony, just to see what he would have done with the role. He's thin for a street fighter, but his indecision would have been right on for the torn Tony.


My only complaint about Natalie was that she was just OK. She didn't convince me she was Puerto Rican, however, just a nice American girl in a lot of pancake makeup. Didn't even come as close to the image as did George Chakaris (whatever!) in his role. It would have been daring and so much more admirable if Hollywood actually had gone out and found a young Hispanic woman who was also an experienced singer-dancer-actor. for that role. They already had one in Rita Moreno, so I know they were out there, probably looking for work in Hollywood and on Broadway. (Both found real Asians for Flower Drum Song, and there are more Hispanics than Asians in this country. Surely Rita could have recommended a friend!)

Barring that, I still wish they had picked leads who could actually sing the songs instead of just lip-syncing like American Bandstand.
Having said that, however, I wonder what Audrey Hepburn would have been like in the role of Maria. She was after the part at one time. She couldn't sing, either, yet sparkled in the film version of My Fair Lady.



I always smile at that gym dance scene because I've lived that moment at a community recreation hall dance on the south side of San Antonio when I was about 14 or so. Hispanics on one side of the floor, anglos on the other and God help anyone who accidentally bumped a couple of the opposite culture on the dance floor or who danced too close to the other side of the room. And the last thing you ever wanted to do was to go into the restrooms! I wasn't nearly as cool and clever as the WSS cast--I was just damned scared. For dance scenes, however, I really like the power and fun of "America."



Yeah, I think Hollywood actually improved the flow of the story by changing the sequence of several of the musical numbers. For instance, it makes sense for "I Feel Pretty" to come earlier in the movie when Maria's hopes and spirits are high instead of later as her troubles develop.

As for the music itself, just look at how many popular songs came out of that movie that are still standards! If you don't already have it, I urge you to hunt down a record album (I doubt if it's on tape or CD) of West Side Story by Stan Kenton. Kenton put together a large jazz ensemble to play the WSS score as specially arranged by Johnnie Richards and it is spectacular. Leonard Bernstein did an orchestra version of his score and that's great, but Kenton's jazzier version with soloists really takes the music to the streets. That's what I had in mind when talking about "Something's Comin'" earlier. The horns have that sound of passing traffic and the cymbals copy the rattle of trash cans. It's a real treat. All instrumental, of course, but boy how that music soars!
Wow!! rufnek, you seem to know a great deal about West Side Story, some of which I was already aware of, and some of which I wasn't. Thanks again for all the info. The name Stan Kenton does sound a tad familiar, but I'm not positive of who he is, nor have I ever been a jazz fan, like my dad was. Sounds like he's got an interesting recording of WSS's score. Although I've never taken well to the idea of rehashing such a beautiful original as Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story musical score, this one sounds interesting, even though I'm not into jazz. As for searching for a record album of Stan Kenton/West Side Story, since I no longer have a regular LP turntable, that could be a problem for me, since I have a CD stereo. I wonder if it will come out on CD or tape cassette, if it's not out already .

Since you lived in a place where racial/ethnic tensions were played out in real life, it must've been quite terrifying for you, at such a young age, while growing up, to deal with.

I've got to admit, however, that I'm not troubled by the dubbing, especially since this practice was quite common back then, from what I understand. Natalie Wood didn't have a bad singing voice or anything like that, but it simply wasn't powerful enough, which is why they had to use Marni Nixon to dub Wood's voice in the film version of WSS. I admittedly have no complaints about Natalie Wood's role as Maria; however, I do think that Richard Beymer was a poor choice as Tony, and the fact that he and Natalie Wood got along extremely poorly off-screen really didn't help at all. The fact that Richard Beymer was cast as Tony was politics as usual. Natalie Wood, in fact, had tried to get Richard Beymer kicked off the set on several occasions, which he was pained by, and it showed in his performance as Tony in the film. That being said, one really has to wonder if Richard Beymer might have performed better as Tony if he and Natalie Wood had gotten along better off-screen. I'd be willing to give Beymer the benefit of the doubt and say that it is at least somewhat of a possibility. However, I think that Beymer's weak, lacklustre performance as Tony was more than off-set by the other actors/actresses in the film.

Regarding the possibility of Bobby Darin performing as Tony in the film version of WSS: I've only heard one song of Bobby Darin (If I Were A Carpenter), so I'm not that familiar with his voice, and therefore not sure how he would've made out as West Side Story's Tony, nor was I aware of his background. Tony Perkins is not an actor that I'm familiar with either, although I've heard the name on numerous occasions.

Rita Moreno was excellent as Anita, and she's a favorite of a lot of people. West Side Story, I believe, is noted, not only for the musical score, but for the great dancing through the whole thing. Regarding the Dance at the Gym scene--I smile at that too--and I love the way Riff does his flips into the air--that's so cool! Rita Moreno dances excellently in that scene, too, as she does in "America". However, I love all of the dancing in WSS-it's so beautiful.

What's really too bad is the fact that, very often, the talents of actors/actresses and/or musicians and singers are all too often hemmed in by politics as usual, and it sounds as if in Elvis Presley's case, that was no exception.

Nonetheless, even though I think that the film West Side Story's real shortcoming was the casting of Richard Beymer as Tony, this has not stopped me from going to see this great classic when it comes to one of the two repertory movie theatres in our area, on TV, or even driving into a neighboring state to go and see it.

Btw, rufnek, I enjoy talking and corresponding with you, and hope you and I continue to correspond more on this forum. Thanks.



The name Stan Kenton does sound a tad familiar, but I'm not positive of who he is, nor have I ever been a jazz fan, like my dad was. . . . Although I've never taken well to the idea of rehashing such a beautiful original as Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story musical score, this one sounds interesting, even though I'm not into jazz.
A lot of people think they don't like jazz because they think it's ethnic or all weird sounds (like the be-bop version can be to some), but you really hear more jazz than you realize in films and commercials and even its influence in modern music. If you hear some good jazz played well, you'll like it. It's the most American of all forms of music.

And don't worry that it's a rehashing of Bernstein's music. It's just a different arrangement for the fairly big band (but not as big as an orchestra) that just heightens the emphasis in certain section by including different instruments, or spotlighting a solo performance or slowing the tempo a little. Plus every person in the band is good enough to be performing solo or headling a band of his own. Great musicians playing great music in away that lets you hear it a little differently. It's all a very lush sound. In fact, go to Amazon.com and call up West Side Story by Stan Kenton and just read all the things that other people wrote in about it. Believe me, you won't be disappointed.

Since you lived in a place where racial/ethnic tensions were played out in real life, it must've been quite terrifying for you, at such a young age, while growing up, to deal with.
Ah, it really wasn't that bad--that sort of stuff only happened in South San Antonio, which is the second toughest part of that city after the West side, which is where the barrio was. The barrio and cheap housing for poorer Anglos kinda merged together in South San, where my cousin lived. My brother and I often spent the summers with him and when we were little kids we went to the neighborhood recreation hall and pool all the time and never had any trouble. The fights only started when we reach puberty and have to start proving something to everyone. Mostly I lived in smaller towns where there were no gangs or stuff like that, and I went to school with Hispanics all the time and had no problems. Liked them in fact. Still do.


Regarding the possibility of Bobby Darin performing as Tony in the film version of WSS: I've only heard one song of Bobby Darin (If I Were A Carpenter), so I'm not that familiar with his voice, and therefore not sure how he would've made out as West Side Story's Tony, nor was I aware of his background. Tony Perkins is not an actor that I'm familiar with either, although I've heard the name on numerous occasions.
Oh, if you haven't heard much of Darin, you've got a treat coming! Hunt down a tape or CD of his greatest hits. These I know are still available because he was and is still so popular. Listen to some of the big band numbers he did like "Mack the Knife" (originally from the Threepenny Opera which was done in Germany nearly 100 years ago but totally updated in the Darin version), Beyond the Sea (my personal favorite and the title of a movie about Darin that came out a few years ago), and especially the swinging version of "Artificial Flowers." He had the voice and range and the acting ability to do Broadway musicals.[/quote]

Rita Moreno was excellent as Anita, and she's a favorite of a lot of people. West Side Story, I believe, is noted, not only for the musical score, but for the great dancing through the whole thing. Regarding the Dance at the Gym scene--I smile at that too--and I love the way Riff does his flips into the air--that's so cool! Rita Moreno dances excellently in that scene, too, as she does in "America". However, I love all of the dancing in WSS-it's so beautiful.
If you liked Russ Tamblyn's dancing in WSS, you'd love him in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, a Broadway play made into a movie and then released on both VHS and DVD, I think. He was very acrobatic. I remember a picture that appeared in Life or Look or one of those magazines about 40 years ago that showed him and his girlfriend (or new bride, I forget which) walking down the street, but it was staged so that he was right in the middle of a backward flip where he's pointing straight up in the air.

As for Rita, I saw her once. She came to the paper where I worked to see our movie or music or theater reviewer, came in dressed very well with a mink stole and jewelry, very pretty, so as she approached my desk I said, "Hey, Rita! Looking good!!! And she looked over and just smiled. Very pretty woman, then and later.


Btw, rufnek, I enjoy talking and corresponding with you, and hope you and I continue to correspond more on this forum. Thanks.
I'm sure we will. You're a real pleasure to chat with.



A lot of people think they don't like jazz because they think it's ethnic or all weird sounds (like the be-bop version can be to some), but you really hear more jazz than you realize in films and commercials and even its influence in modern music. If you hear some good jazz played well, you'll like it. It's the most American of all forms of music.

And don't worry that it's a rehashing of Bernstein's music. It's just a different arrangement for the fairly big band (but not as big as an orchestra) that just heightens the emphasis in certain section by including different instruments, or spotlighting a solo performance or slowing the tempo a little. Plus every person in the band is good enough to be performing solo or headling a band of his own. Great musicians playing great music in away that lets you hear it a little differently. It's all a very lush sound. In fact, go to Amazon.com and call up West Side Story by Stan Kenton and just read all the things that other people wrote in about it. Believe me, you won't be disappointed.

Ah, it really wasn't that bad--that sort of stuff only happened in South San Antonio, which is the second toughest part of that city after the West side, which is where the barrio was. The barrio and cheap housing for poorer Anglos kinda merged together in South San, where my cousin lived. My brother and I often spent the summers with him and when we were little kids we went to the neighborhood recreation hall and pool all the time and never had any trouble. The fights only started when we reach puberty and have to start proving something to everyone. Mostly I lived in smaller towns where there were no gangs or stuff like that, and I went to school with Hispanics all the time and had no problems. Liked them in fact. Still do.




Oh, if you haven't heard much of Darin, you've got a treat coming! Hunt down a tape or CD of his greatest hits. These I know are still available because he was and is still so popular. Listen to some of the big band numbers he did like "Mack the Knife" (originally from the Threepenny Opera which was done in Germany nearly 100 years ago but totally updated in the Darin version), Beyond the Sea (my personal favorite and the title of a movie about Darin that came out a few years ago), and especially the swinging version of "Artificial Flowers." He had the voice and range and the acting ability to do Broadway musicals.

If you liked Russ Tamblyn's dancing in WSS, you'd love him in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, a Broadway play made into a movie and then released on both VHS and DVD, I think. He was very acrobatic. I remember a picture that appeared in Life or Look or one of those magazines about 40 years ago that showed him and his girlfriend (or new bride, I forget which) walking down the street, but it was staged so that he was right in the middle of a backward flip where he's pointing straight up in the air.

As for Rita, I saw her once. She came to the paper where I worked to see our movie or music or theater reviewer, came in dressed very well with a mink stole and jewelry, very pretty, so as she approached my desk I said, "Hey, Rita! Looking good!!! And she looked over and just smiled. Very pretty woman, then and later.




I'm sure we will. You're a real pleasure to chat with.[/quote]Hey---thanks again, rufnek! You're right about jazz being present everywhere, including film, commercials, etc. Never gave it much thought, although I've always been aware that the music from both the film version and the stage version of West Side Story are a combo of jazz, pop, salsa music, etc. I'll have to look into the Amazon opinion of Stan Kenton's West Side Story--sounds interesting...and cool!! I wonder if it is available on CD. If it is, I might consider buying it, although not right now.

My first introduction to West Side Story was back in the summer of 1962, when my sister and I attended day camp out West. Another girl in the group I was in, who'd recently received a copy of the LP album of the soundtrack to the original Broadway stage production of WSS, brought the album in and played it for the rest of the group. From that day on, I fell in love with the music of WSS, and all the kids would sing the songs on the bus to and from camp every day. I never did see any of the original Broadway stage productions of West Side Story, nor did I see the film version of WSS until Christmastime 1968, as a high school senior, when it was past the heyday of its popularity and newness, and shortly before it went on TV. I fell in love with the film instantly.

Four years later, after having forgotten about it, WSS went on TV that spring. I was in an evening class, and someone had brought in a small black-and-white TV, and we gathered around to watch it. That summer, when I went on a six-week trip to Europe, someone in the group I was with had brought a cassette tape of the WSS movie soundtrack, which was played almost every evening. My love for WSS was re-awakened, along with a desire to see the film.
Shortly after I came home, I mentioned it to my dad over supper.
Our dialogue about it went something like this:

Me: Gee, I wish I could see the movie West Side Story again.

Dad: You never forgot it, did you?

Me: No.

When it was aired on TV that Thanksgiving, I watched it, and that was when my love of the film really took off. I've admittedly been hooked on this film since.





Glad you were able to hold your own while growing up, and that you got along with and made friends with the various kids that you went to school with. Without knowing you personally, it sounds like you've always had a good head on your shoulders. Fights start in adolescence, because that's such a tough stage to go through, generally. I think that, particularly in Western societies, the adolescent is often forced to prove him/herself in some way or other.

Regarding Bobby Darin's greatest hits: Since Record Towers, the most prominent record store around, has since closed its doors, I'll have to look elsewhere, such as Newbury Comics or perhaps Borders, or Strawberries for the Stan Henton and Bobby Darin CDs. Something to think about!

Regarding the movie Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which I never saw: If I recall correctly, that one came out even before West Side Story (the film version) did. Wasn't Tucker Smith also in that one? I heard that he was, and that he was also in the film version of Sweet Smell of Success, which I also never saw, and came out before the film version of WSS. Tucker Smith was excellent as Jet gang member Ice in West Side Story; he had both the looks and the personality for that role. It suited him perfectly. Too bad about Tucker Smith's death. It was tragic, particularly since he died so young.

Nowadays, it seems that they're making musicals out of movies, instead of the other way around.

Since I don't have a DVD player at home, buying or renting those two particular movies could be a problem for me.

Rita Moreno--yup, she's still a very attractive lady. So, you got to see her in person? How cool!!

When I attended a West Side Story sing-a-long screening at the Brattle Theatre, in Cambridge, MA a year ago last fall, Marni Nixon was in the lobby of the theatre selling and autographing copies of her then-new book, I Could Have Danced All Night. She seemed pleasant enough, and, although around 80 or so, she looked only in her sixties! She and I chatted briefly before the WSS screening, and, when I told her that WSS is my alltime favorite film, she was happy.

Other actors in WSS: Russ Tamblyn (Riff) and Richard Beymer (Tony) are very good friends in real life, and Russ Tamblyn's daughter, Amber, was involved in some sort of TV program, which I forget the name of, at one point.

As a devout fan of the film West Side Story, who's also seen a half dozen stage productions of this great musical, I've reached the conclusion that certain types of singing voices and/or music are appropriate for different types of media, if one gets the drift, and I think that WSS is no exception.

Again, rufnek. It's a pleasure to chat with you too. Hope to talk again soon.



A lot of people think they don't like jazz because they think it's ethnic or all weird sounds (like the be-bop version can be to some), but you really hear more jazz than you realize in films and commercials and even its influence in modern music. If you hear some good jazz played well, you'll like it. It's the most American of all forms of music.

And don't worry that it's a rehashing of Bernstein's music. It's just a different arrangement for the fairly big band (but not as big as an orchestra) that just heightens the emphasis in certain section by including different instruments, or spotlighting a solo performance or slowing the tempo a little. Plus every person in the band is good enough to be performing solo or headling a band of his own. Great musicians playing great music in away that lets you hear it a little differently. It's all a very lush sound. In fact, go to Amazon.com and call up West Side Story by Stan Kenton and just read all the things that other people wrote in about it. Believe me, you won't be disappointed.

Ah, it really wasn't that bad--that sort of stuff only happened in South San Antonio, which is the second toughest part of that city after the West side, which is where the barrio was. The barrio and cheap housing for poorer Anglos kinda merged together in South San, where my cousin lived. My brother and I often spent the summers with him and when we were little kids we went to the neighborhood recreation hall and pool all the time and never had any trouble. The fights only started when we reach puberty and have to start proving something to everyone. Mostly I lived in smaller towns where there were no gangs or stuff like that, and I went to school with Hispanics all the time and had no problems. Liked them in fact. Still do.




Oh, if you haven't heard much of Darin, you've got a treat coming! Hunt down a tape or CD of his greatest hits. These I know are still available because he was and is still so popular. Listen to some of the big band numbers he did like "Mack the Knife" (originally from the Threepenny Opera which was done in Germany nearly 100 years ago but totally updated in the Darin version), Beyond the Sea (my personal favorite and the title of a movie about Darin that came out a few years ago), and especially the swinging version of "Artificial Flowers." He had the voice and range and the acting ability to do Broadway musicals.

If you liked Russ Tamblyn's dancing in WSS, you'd love him in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, a Broadway play made into a movie and then released on both VHS and DVD, I think. He was very acrobatic. I remember a picture that appeared in Life or Look or one of those magazines about 40 years ago that showed him and his girlfriend (or new bride, I forget which) walking down the street, but it was staged so that he was right in the middle of a backward flip where he's pointing straight up in the air.

As for Rita, I saw her once. She came to the paper where I worked to see our movie or music or theater reviewer, came in dressed very well with a mink stole and jewelry, very pretty, so as she approached my desk I said, "Hey, Rita! Looking good!!! And she looked over and just smiled. Very pretty woman, then and later.




I'm sure we will. You're a real pleasure to chat with.[/quote]

Hey---thanks again, rufnek! You're right about jazz being present everywhere, including film, commercials, etc. Never gave it much thought, although I've always been aware that the music from both the film version and the stage version of West Side Story are a combo of jazz, pop, salsa music, etc. I'll have to look into the Amazon opinion of Stan Kenton's West Side Story--sounds interesting...and cool!! I wonder if it is available on CD. If it is, I might consider buying it, although not right now.

My first introduction to West Side Story was back in the summer of 1962, when my sister and I attended day camp out West. Another girl in the group I was in, who'd recently received a copy of the LP album of the soundtrack to the original Broadway stage production of WSS, brought the album in and played it for the rest of the group. From that day on, I fell in love with the music of WSS, and all the kids would sing the songs on the bus to and from camp every day. I never did see any of the original Broadway stage productions of West Side Story, nor did I see the film version of WSS until Christmastime 1968, as a high school senior, when it was past the heyday of its popularity and newness, and shortly before it went on TV. I fell in love with the film instantly.

Four years later, after having forgotten about it, WSS went on TV that spring. I was in an evening class, and someone had brought in a small black-and-white TV, and we gathered around to watch it. That summer, when I went on a six-week trip to Europe, someone in the group I was with had brought a cassette tape of the WSS movie soundtrack, which was played almost every evening. My love for WSS was re-awakened, along with a desire to see the film.
Shortly after I came home, I mentioned it to my dad over supper.
Our dialogue about it went something like this:

Me: Gee, I wish I could see the movie West Side Story again.

Dad: You never forgot it, did you?

Me: No.

When it was aired on TV that Thanksgiving, I watched it, and that was when my love of the film really took off. I've admittedly been hooked on this film since.





Glad you were able to hold your own while growing up, and that you got along with and made friends with the various kids that you went to school with. Without knowing you personally, it sounds like you've always had a good head on your shoulders. Fights start in adolescence, because that's such a tough stage to go through, generally. I think that, particularly in Western societies, the adolescent is often forced to prove him/herself in some way or other.

Regarding Bobby Darin's greatest hits: Since Record Towers, the most prominent record store around, has since closed its doors, I'll have to look elsewhere, such as Newbury Comics or perhaps Borders, or Strawberries for the Stan Henton and Bobby Darin CDs. Something to think about!

Regarding the movie Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which I never saw: If I recall correctly, that one came out even before West Side Story (the film version) did. Wasn't Tucker Smith also in that one? I heard that he was, and that he was also in the film version of Sweet Smell of Success, which I also never saw, and came out before the film version of WSS. Tucker Smith was excellent as Jet gang member Ice in West Side Story; he had both the looks and the personality for that role. It suited him perfectly. Too bad about Tucker Smith's death. It was tragic, particularly since he died so young.

Nowadays, it seems that they're making musicals out of movies, instead of the other way around.

Since I don't have a DVD player at home, buying or renting those two particular movies could be a problem for me.

Rita Moreno--yup, she's still a very attractive lady. So, you got to see her in person? How cool!!

When I attended a West Side Story sing-a-long screening at the Brattle Theatre, in Cambridge, MA a year ago last fall, Marni Nixon was in the lobby of the theatre selling and autographing copies of her then-new book, I Could Have Danced All Night. She seemed pleasant enough, and, although around 80 or so, she looked only in her sixties! She and I chatted briefly before the WSS screening, and, when I told her that WSS is my alltime favorite film, she was happy.

Other actors in WSS: Russ Tamblyn (Riff) and Richard Beymer (Tony) are very good friends in real life, and Russ Tamblyn's daughter, Amber, was involved in some sort of TV program, which I forget the name of, at one point.

As a devout fan of the film West Side Story, who's also seen a half dozen stage productions of this great musical, I've reached the conclusion that certain types of singing voices and/or music are appropriate for different types of media, if one gets the drift, and I think that WSS is no exception.

Again, rufnek. It's a pleasure to chat with you too. Hope to talk again soon.



That summer, when I went on a six-week trip to Europe, someone in the group I was with had brought a cassette tape of the WSS movie soundtrack, which was played almost every evening. My love for WSS was re-awakened, along with a desire to see the film.


What parts of Europe did you visit? I got to Europe for the first time in 1963-1964—Germany—courtesy of the US Army.

Regarding the movie Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, which I never saw: If I recall correctly, that one came out even before West Side Story (the film version) did. Wasn't Tucker Smith also in that one? I heard that he was, and that he was also in the film version of Sweet Smell of Success, which I also never saw, and came out before the film version of WSS. Tucker Smith was excellent as Jet gang member Ice in West Side Story; he had both the looks and the personality for that role. It suited him perfectly. Too bad about Tucker Smith's death. It was tragic, particularly since he died so young.


Don’t know much about Smith. Looked him up and apparently he had uncredited dancing parts in the films How to Succeed in Business (one of my favorite musicals), The Producers (another good one!) and Hello, Dolly in 1967-1968. Apparently not in Seven Brides, however.

As a devout fan of the film West Side Story, who's also seen a half dozen stage productions of this great musical, I've reached the conclusion that certain types of singing voices and/or music are appropriate for different types of media, if one gets the drift, and I think that WSS is no exception.


Have you also seen productions of Romeo and Juliet? How does that compare for you with WWS?




What parts of Europe did you visit? I got to Europe for the first time in 1963-1964—Germany—courtesy of the US Army.



Don’t know much about Smith. Looked him up and apparently he had uncredited dancing parts in the films How to Succeed in Business (one of my favorite musicals), The Producers (another good one!) and Hello, Dolly in 1967-1968. Apparently not in Seven Brides, however.



Have you also seen productions of Romeo and Juliet? How does that compare for you with WWS?
What parts of Europe did you visit? I got to Europe for the first time in 1963-1964—Germany—courtesy of the US Army.Don’t know much about Smith. Looked him up and apparently he had uncredited dancing parts in the films How to Succeed in Business (one of my favorite musicals), The Producers (another good one!) and Hello, Dolly in 1967-1968. Apparently not in Seven Brides, however.Have you also seen productions of Romeo and Juliet? How does that compare for you with WWS?
I've never seen any productions of Romeo & Juliet, but I am aware that certain comparisons can be made between R & J and WSS, since one is loosely based on the other. For instance, the Montagues and the Capulets become the Jets and Sharks. Romeo and Juliet become Tony and Maria. Juliet's nurse becomes Maria's girlfriend, Anita.In both West Side Story and Romeo & Juliet, two people from opposing sides fall in love despite all the taboos and amid the deadly conflict, and,in both instances, they end up star-crossed as a result of the hatred between the feuding sides, if one gets the drift.

The summer when I went to Europe and got the chance to listen to the WSS film soundtrack cassette tape was back in the summer of 1972. I visited England and France for a total of six weeks and got to see some wonderful sights, particularly in London and Paris. I even visited London's Goldsmith Hall, which was fantastic, and also got to see the stage productions of Showboat, Godspell, and afew others. The film version of "Godspell was dreadful, btw, but the stage play was great. From what I understand, the film version of "Showboat" is also wonderful, though I've never seen it. I also got to visit the countryside, which was also wonderful.

I didn't know that Tucker Smith was in Hello Dolly, nor did I know about his being an uncredited dancer in "How to Succeed in Business" or in "The Producers". Uncredited dancers were rather common back then. For some reason I thought that Tucker Smith had been in "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers". Hmmmm...Oh well.



the great, venerable golden oldie-but-goody movie musical classic film, West Side Story, has withstood the test of time beautifully, and is a good, clear indication of one thing: The more things change, the more they stay the same. Imho, anybody who says that West Side Story is passe, dated, obsolete, just for starry-eyed adolescents, or too "white-bread" is wrong. West Side Story is a beautiful movie/musical classic modeled somewhat on Romeo and Juliet, about realities that take place even today: racial & ethnic tensions, urban gang warfare, and people crossing the racial/ethnic-color-religion barrier to date, fall in love and even marry. No matter who becomes POTUS, the above-mentioned things will always exist.

Hey...I know that in real life, street gangs don't dance through the streets, I know people don't generally fall in love at first sight, or even if they do, it still takes time for it to develop into something really, really substantial, if one gets the drift, and sometimes it doesn't happen at all, and I'm also aware that today's street gangs are far deadlier and more violent than they were back then, often entailing the use of high-tech, high-powered guns, rather than fisticuffs or switchblades.

In my eyes, the only shortcoming of the film West Side Story was the casting of Richard Beymer as Tony, and the fact that he and Natalie Wood got along extremely poorly (Natalie Wood had, in fact, tried to get Richard Beymer kicked off the set on several occasions) really didn't help. In fact, Beymer's being bothered by it was somewhat obvious. Yet, that has not stopped me from going to see a screening of WSS virtually everytime it comes to town (I only missed one screening in our area--March 2001, when an afternoon screenng in town conflicted directly with my late dad's memorial, so I didn't go that day. ) and loving every minute of it, as always.

As a neighbor put it, West Side Story is fiction, and yet closer to reality in some respects. I'm still waiting for some decent movies to come up, and for WSS to reappear. As a devout fan of this great film who has also seen at least a half dozen stage productions of this great musical and who owns both the CD soundtracks to the film and the original Broadway stage play, I fully savor this great classic and hope that, regardless of who comes into the White House this fall, or what else happens, that this great classic never, ever becomes obsolete. The MGM adaage "Unlike other classics, West Side Story grows younger" has a strong element of truth to it. I call it "The classic that never grows old".



I am Jack's sense of overused quote
Everyone here likes West Side Story. Most of the people I know in real life like West Side Story. Everyone who doesn't, hasn't seen it. So what are you talking about?
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Point to one end, which is always present." - T.S. Eliot



I'm not old, you're just 12.
Yeah, I don't get all the animosity. it's one of my favourite films!
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Everyone here likes West Side Story. Most of the people I know in real life like West Side Story. Everyone who doesn't, hasn't seen it. So what are you talking about?
Actually, I know quite afew people who've seen West Side Story who really don't like the film at all. Some of them are people that work as mental health councilors and who councel troubled kids from lower socio-economic backgrounds and/or minority backgrounds, and feel that WSS is too unrealistic, too promotory of stereotypes that all workingclass kids, be they white or non-white, are involved with street gang activity, and who're also a good deal younger than me and don't have as much appreciation of this film. I also know one guy (around my age) who grew up in our area who thought that WSS was a disgusting take-off on gang activities. I also know people who think that West Side Story is too "whitebread" for their tastes.

Also, the late Pauline Kael, who was a well-known and respected movie critic not only disliked West Side Story, but absolutely panned the hell out of it unlike any critic I've ever seen do. Bertinelli, another movie critic, said that WSS was too sanitized.
What's bothersome is the fact that these opinions have, in a way, found their way into many circles of today's mainstream opinions of this great film, which is part of the reason why it's shown so infrequently. All of the above having been said, I really wonder what will happen to this great classic film, as well as other classics when the next POTUS, whoever he may be, takes over the White House in January 2009.

I know you all like WSS, so I wasn't directing my comments at anyone here...at all. Most people that I know also like West Side Story, but aren't as into it as I am, and are accepting about it.



Yeah, I don't get all the animosity. it's one of my favourite films!
I don't understand why there's such animosity over WSS either, but I guess people are people, with different tastes. I also know people who're not big fans of this great film, but who don't harbor the kind of hostility about it that some people do. I do, however, agree with people who say that Richard Beymer was a rather weak, lacklustre Tony, but I won't go into a big thing over that.



I'm not old, you're just 12.
I don't understand why there's such animosity over WSS either, but I guess people are people, with different tastes. I also know people who're not big fans of this great film, but who don't harbor the kind of hostility about it that some people do. I do, however, agree with people who say that Richard Beymer was a rather weak, lacklustre Tony, but I won't go into a big thing over that.
well, I meant where does your animosity towards the people HERE come from? Nobodys said anything against the film...



well, I meant where does your animosity towards the people HERE come from? Nobodys said anything against the film...
Whoa, Monkeypunch! I have absolutely no animosity towards the people here on movieforums at all. Trust me. There are people that I know, in real life and off of this forum that really hate West Side Story, and have made it obvious to me that they think that I'm immature and/or retarded for having such a great liking for it. Sorry that you took what I said in the wrong way.



Whoa, Monkeypunch! I have absolutely no animosity towards the people here on movieforums at all. Trust me. There are people that I know, in real life and off of this forum that really hate West Side Story, and have made it obvious to me that they think that I'm immature and/or retarded for having such a great liking for it. Sorry that you took what I said in the wrong way.
Well, I for one didn't get any sense of animosity to this forum in any of your entries, WSSlover. You expressed very plainly that some people you know outside this forum have been critical not only of the film but of you for liking the film. Hey, you like what you like and don't like what you don't like. No explanation or appoligies necessary.

As for love at first sight, Hollywood and Broadway have been using that device for years to hurry a story along. Look at Carousel and Brigadoon and, to a certain extent, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. I once met a girl in a Houston honky tonk who gave me a double-take and later told me, "I don't know if I'm in love or in lust," and we were together for 3-4 years. Which was longer than my first marriage! :-)



They Call Me...Diablo
I didn't realize so many people disliked it *Shrugs* I've been caught in the shower numerous times singing "I feel pretty"