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West Side Story

West Side Story ( Robert Wise, 1961)

Wow, that was epic! No wonder West Side Story won a whopping ten Oscars including:

Best Picture
Best Supporting Actor: George Chakiris - Bernado
Best Supporting Actress: Rita Moreno - Anita
Best Director: Robert Wise, Jerome Robbins
Best Cinematography, Color
Best Music Score
Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color
Best Costume Design, Color
Best Sound
Best Film Editing

And I agree, it deserved to win them all! What a lavish telling of a simple, yet effective tale. Boy meets girl from the wrong side of the tracks, the romance is doomed, with tragic results. Romeo and Juliet set to a street gang musical.

The movie has so many wonderful songs that I don't know where to start. The Jet Song, where we are first introduced to the Jets on the streets was a favorite. Both the song's melody and lyrics...as well as the choreography were perfect for that scene. Very cool!

Dance at the Gym...
loved it! that entire number, the colors, the movement, the song, everything about it. That was one of my favorites.

Another favorite scene was the dressmaking scene when Tony visits Maria after hours and they use the clothing mannequins in the store to tell the story of how their parents would view their love. Very charming and personal too.

Gee, Officer Krupke! ...was hilarious, loved the way it was staged and loved the lyrics to the song, very clever.
.....Gee, Officer Krupke, Krup you!
Ha! that cracked me up.

I really liked Natalie Wood in this, and I'm not her biggest fan. But here she really fits the role and made a perfectly sweet Maria.

I wasn't to keen on the way Tony was presented by Richard Beymer. I read he wasn't to happy playing Tony as the nicest, sappiest guy in the world, either. He wanted Tony to have a bit more roughness to him but the director thought otherwise. Oh well, it still works.

My favorite characters/actors was Russ Tamblyn who finally got to do a substantial role here. He was a noted dancer, strong on gymnastics which got him a part in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. I thought he made a pretty good leader of the Jets too. Same for the Sharks head man, Bernado -
George Chakiris, he was really intense, which fit the movie well. Also I liked Rita Moreno here and the old candy store owner too.

All right that's enough writing....West Side Story is close to perfection. The look, the song numbers, the choreography and the tragic love story. Sublime.