West Side Story

Film, Drama
4 out of 5 stars
5 out of 5 stars
(9user reviews)
West Side Story.jpg
This beautifully restored fiftieth anniversary version of ‘West Side Story’ is being re-released ahead of the BFI’s major survey of the Hollywood musical this autumn.

Re-heating ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in the distressed, red-brick pressure cooker of late-’50s New York City, cine-chameleon Robert Wise and choreographer Jerome Robbins made a fine fist of transplanting the Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim Broadway behemoth to the screen. Set in a world populated by finger-clicking, stoop-dwelling greasers, a senseless turf war between rival gangs, the Sharks and the Jets, complicates a star-crossed romance between Maria (Natalie Wood) and Tony (Richard Beymer).

The sins of the father take a back seat to race and gender tensions, as this version examines the notion of dangerously overzealous family pride via the internal dynamics of roving street gangs. A mercurial opening salvo delivers ominous aerial shots of the NYC skyline that are worthy of Antonioni. The camera then dips down on to a basketball court and introduces a beef between Russ Tamblyn’s charismatic Riff and George Chakiris’s highfalutin Bernardo (replete with dodgy Shinola suntan).

Although it’s impossible to fault the euphoric dance sequences and ultra-melodic tunes, the dramatic scenes linking the big numbers all fall flat and the illicit affair at the film’s core remains fatally underdeveloped until its fudged finale. Special mention, though, should go to Boris Leven’s neo-expressionist production design and Daniel L Fapp’s forceful cinematography: the crooked angles, pointed shadows and great swashes of red all heighten the mood of rabid fury. David Jenkins

By: David Jenkins

Posted:

Release details

Rated:
PG
Release date:
Friday September 16 2011
Duration:
151 mins

Cast and crew

Director:
Robert Wise, Jerome Robbins
Screenwriter:
Ernest Lehman
Cast:
Natalie Wood
Richard Beymer
George Chakiris
Rita Moreno
Russ Tamblyn
Tucker Smith
Simon Oakland

Average User Rating

5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:9
  • 4 star:0
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|9
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tastemaker

West side story is definitely a must see.

It's probably one of my favorite movies. I agree with the people saying that it is a very old movie and sometimes a bit cheesy (it is a musical!) but the core story unfortunately doesn't age and echoes with our generation and our everyday life.

The musics are splendid and the actors are highly talented, both for singing and dancing.

If you ever have a chance to watch this movie on a big screen, do not let this go! It is worth seeing in a cinema and having the music playing out loud.
Personally, my favorite character is Chita Rivera playing Anita. She is a strong character in this movie and her dancing is just brilliant.



West Side Story, for me, is the classic that never grows old! I never get tired of seeing this great film, whether it be on TV, or on the great big, wide movie theatre screen, in a darkened movie theatre with tons of other people, whether I know them or not. The MGM adage "Unlike other Classics, West Side Story grows younger" is so true!


West Side Story, for me, is the classic that never grows old! I never get tired of seeing this great film, whether it be on TV, or on the great big, wide movie theatre screen, in a darkened movie theatre with tons of other people, whether I know them or not. The MGM adage "Unlike other Classics, West Side Story grows younger" is so true!


West Side Story is the best musical i have ever seen!!!!!!!! I love Riff!!1


West Side Story is the best musical i have ever seen!!!!!!!! I love Riff!!1