The 1961 Film version of West Side Story: A Golden Oldie-But-Keeper:
West Side Story is a hauntingly beautiful golden oldie-but-keeper of a classic movie-musical, based on Romeo and Juliet. It’s about two warring gangs on NYC’s 1950’s-1960’s Upper West Side, as well as a love and romance that develops between Tony, the founder and ex-leader of the white European ethnic American Jets, and the newly-arrived Puerto Rican Sharks, only to go up in smoke, due to the constant hatred, feuding and violence between the two gangs.
West Side Story was one of the first, if not the first musicals to deal with such things as urban gang warfare, racial/ethnic/cultural tensions, and the inter-dating and romance between two people from different factions. The various emotions in West Side Story, ranging from exuberance to cockiness and arrogance, to gentleness, romance, violence and even death, are told, not only in beautifully-choreographed dancing by the late Jerome Robbins, but in expert cinematography by the late Daniel Fapp, as well. Bernstein’s intensely brilliant musical score, the creative scenery by the late Boris Leven, which seamlessly combined on-location scenery with sound-stage scenery, which looks uncannily like a rough, run-down part of a large American city, the very strong cast, and the very story behind West Side Story. All of these factors together are combined into a dynamically powerful and strong package, which resonates with people, and is as relevant today as it ever was.
West Side Story, as a movie-musical and a great classic film, is enjoyable on TV, DVD, and Blu-Ray, but cries to be viewed on a great big, wide screen, in a real movie theatre, with the lights down low, as that is how West Side Story, as a film, is truly meant to be viewed, and is much more of a treat.
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