|West Side Story-The Classic Film that Never Grows Old:
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|Author:||mplo [ Wed Aug 12, 2015 8:44 pm ]|
|Post subject:||West Side Story-The Classic Film that Never Grows Old:|
West Side Story, to me, is a beautiful musical, both on stage and on screen, although I did view the more up-to-date Broadway stage revival of West Side Story with a harder, more critical eye when I saw it 4 years ago, here in Boston.
As a devout fan of the film West Side Story who has seen this great, golden oldie-but-keeper of a classic more times than she's presently able to count, I never tire of seeing this film over and over again, have very rarely missed a screening of the film West Side Story in my area (the one exception being in mid-March of 2001, when an afternoon screening of WSS conflicted directly with my (late) dad's memorial, so I didn't attend that afternoon's screening.). I have also made special road trips to the opposite end of my state of residence, as well as to some neighboring states specially to see a screening of the movie West Side Story.
The very story behind West Side Story, along with the intensely brilliant Leonard Bernstein musical score, the beautifully-choreographed dancing by the late Jerome Robbins, the beautiful direction by Robert Wise, as well as the richly-colored costumes and photograhy, as well as the cinematic technology, have all been intertwined together to make West Side Story the dynamite little package that it really and truly is.
West Side Story, as a movie, always feels fresh and new to me, like I'm seeing it for the very first time, plus I always notice at least one or two things about WSS that I didn't notice during the last screening of this great film. There is a wonderful cast, but George Chakiris and Rita Moreno, who play Bernardo the Shark gang leader and his fiery girlfriend, Anita, play their roles fabulously. So does Simon Oakland, as the bitter, bigoted and cynical Lt. Shrank, as well as Russ Tamblyn and Tucker Smith who also did fabulous jobs playing the jets Riff, who's presently the Jet gang leader, and Ice, who's handsome, calm, cool and collected, and subsequently takes over the Jets gang leadership after Riff's death during the Rumble.
Eliot Feld and David Winters do wonderful jobs playing the role of the youngest and most immature Jets member, Baby-John, and the measly A-Rab, who's Baby-John's buddy. Susan Oakes plays a wonderful Anybodys, the tomboy who struggles to become accepted by the Jets gang, and finally does, and Gina Trinkonis and Carole D'Andrea play the somewhat snobbish but bubbly Jet girls, Graziella and Velma, who are the girlfriends of Riff and Ice. Tony Mordente is excellent as the instigator/troublemaker Jet, Action, and so is Jose De Vegas as Bernardo's friend and right-hand man, Chino. who's somewhat shyer than Bernardo, of the Sharks.
Ned Glass does an excellent job of playing the Candy Store owner, Doc, who tries to move the kids in a more positive direction and to head off the Rumble as the Jets and Sharks have their pre-Rumble war council, but to no avail, and Sean Asstin plays the role of "Glad-hand", the social worker, who directs the Dance at the Gym.
Natalie Wood does an okay job of playing the attractive, yet innocent Maria, the sister of Shark gang leader, Bernardo, and Richard Beymer (who's a little bit lackluster in his role) plays the role of Tony.
The songs in West Side Story are funny and wonderful, and the whole movie seems to take on a magical, almost three-dimensional quality when shown on a great big, wide movie screen, in a real movie theatre, with the lights down low. The scenery seems much more expansive and one can see all of everything. The intensely brilliant Bernstein musical score seems even more intense and brilliant, and so do the costumes and photography. The fact that great cinematography could be developed back in those days without the use of expensive gadgetry and computers is nothing short of amazing. From the romancing Tony and Maria to the warring Jets and Sharks, all of the characters in West Side Story seems to move much more freely and in a much wider, more open space. Even Richard Beymer's Tony seems more alive and more believable when viewed on a great big, wide movie theatre screen, with the lights down low.
The very story behind West Side Story, in many ways, is something that frequently gets played out in real life, in a lot of respects. Hey...I know that in real life, street gangs don't go dancing through the streets on their way to a rumble. While it's true that people can and sometimes do fall in love at first sight, even in real life, it still takes time for that love to grow and develop into something really substantial based on mutual trust, true love, commitment and respect. It's also true that there are many bigoted cops around and that racial/ethnic bigotry and tensions do still abound, even now, but, in reality, they're expressed even more harshly.
It's also true that in real life, people do also cross the racial/ethnic/religious, and color barrier(s) to fall in love, date and even marry, but then again, their relationships don't generally get to a highly mature, committed relationship based on mutual trust, respect and understanding in such a short time, if one gets the drift.
Although I have a tough time choosing favorite songs/scenes and characters from the film West Side Story, due to my intense love for the classic film, I do think that "America", Dance at the Gym, Cool, Officer Krupke, the Pre-Rumle Quintet and the Rumble itself are all pillars of West Side Story, giving it the strength that it possesses.
As for the various characters, "ditto", as far as I'm concerned, although Anita, Bernardo, Riff, Chino, Ice, Action, A-Rab and Baby-John are all pillars of this great film, and so is Lt. Shrank.
In addition to attending virtually every screening of the film West Side Story, I have attended two special screenings of this film down in NYC, the 50th-year Anniversary national re-release of WSS here in Boston, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra/West Side Story (the film) concert, both at Tangle, out in the Berkshires, in Western Massachusetts, and all three of the same performances when the Boston Symphony Orchestra/West Side Story (film) concert came to Boston's renowned Symphony Hall, on Valentine's Day weekend of 2014. I had always wanted to see the film West Side Story on Valentine's Day, and I finally got my wish!
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