I'm REALLY shocked this isn't in IMDb's top movies (by preppy-3)
Exceptional musical about the gangs--the Jets Americans and Sharks Puerto Ricans battling it out for a small section in the west side on NYC. Tony from the Jets Richard Beymer falls in love with Puerto Rican Maria Natalie Wood whose brother Bernardo George Chakiris belongs to the Sharks. Can their love survive? You probably know the answer but I won't give it away.An incredible musical--the songs have become legendary and the dance numbers are easily the most energetic and incredible ones ever caught on film. It was partially shot on location in NYC which helps and is full of <more>
color and life.Unfortunately there are problems here: Natalie Wood hated Richard Beymer--and it comes through loud and clear. There's a unbelievable lack of sexual chemistry between them and Wood gives a rare bad performance. Beymer is tall, handsome, muscular--and a total blank as Tony. The poor guy is trying but Wood's attitude obviously bothered him. Still everything else about the movie is great. I have a few minor quibbles: How did Tony know where Maria's apartment was?; "I Feel Pretty" is actually hilarious--check out Wood's "dancing"; the "Cool" number is great to look at but brings the movie to a screeching halt.But everything else works. Chakiris and Rita Moreno are just fantastic as Bernardo and Anita--their dancing and acting is just perfect--they richly deserved those Academy Awards they won. Russ Tamblyn is also very good as Riff leader of the Jets and shows some incredible dance moves. And look for John Astin in a hilarious bit at the dance.All the dances and numbers are good and the lip syncing is pulled off by Beymer and Wood pretty well. But the show stopper is "America"--that number comes right out of the screen at you full force. The lyrics are sanitized from the Broadway show but who cares? It still works.This won 10 Academy Awards--including Best Picture and Best Director s . A true classic musical. I've seen it tons of times and I never get tired of it. A must-see. I give it a 10 all the way.
West Side Story, one of my personal favorite movies of all time and without a doubt my favorite musical. Why do I love this film so much? Because of it's high energy, great actors, terrific songs, awesome dance numbers, and beautiful love story. As an updated Romeo and Juliet story, we visit the streets of Manhattan, two gangs of different ethnicities, Tony and Maria, the two fall in love by are torn apart by the gang's hatred for each other. Sounds pretty basic, not to mention we have dancing gangs, they don't really fight, they just dance, yeah again sissy, but not in this <more>
story! The crew and cast put their heart and soul into this film and it truly paid off as this is the best picture of 1961.In the streets of Manhattan the Jets, led by Riff, and a rival gang of Puerto Rican immigrants, the Sharks, led by Bernardo begin to rumble. The police arrive and tell the "hoodlums" to get off the streets. The Jets discuss challenging the Sharks to one last all out "rumble", that will decide who gets control of the streets, and they will deliver the challenge to the Sharks at a dance later that night. Riff decides that his best friend Tony, a co-founder of the Jets who has left the gang to work at a local store, would be the best member of the Jets to present the challenge to the Sharks. When Riff visits Tony at the store, Tony initially refuses Riff's request to meet with the Sharks, but he later changes his mind. At the bridal shop where she works, Bernardo's sister, Maria complains to Bernardo's girlfriend, Anita. Maria believes that Bernardo is overprotective, never allowing her to have enough fun. Bernardo arrives and takes her to the dance. At the gym, the Jets, Sharks and girls are greatly enjoying themselves, but the rival gang members and their girlfriends remain apart. Tony and Maria see each other, become infatuated, almost going into a trance-like state and begin to dance, then embrace in a kiss. Bernardo pushes them away from each other and orders Maria home, and tells Tony to stay away from his sister.Tony discreetly visits Maria outside the fire escape at her home and they confirm their love. The next day at the bridal shop, Maria sings to her coworkers about how happy she is. Tony arrives to see Maria, she pleads with Tony to prevent the rumble altogether, even if only a fist fight is planned, and Tony promises to do so. At the the rumble, the fight begins between two rival gang members. Tony arrives and tries to stop the fight, but is met with ridicule and mockery from Bernardo and the Sharks. Unable to stand by and watch his best friend be humiliated, Riff angrily lashes out and punches Bernardo. Drawing their knives, Riff and Bernardo fight each other, their duel ending with Bernardo killing Riff. Enraged, Tony kills Bernardo with Riff's knife! Tensions are now at an all time high as both gangs want to get even and Tony and Maria's love is being torn apart by all the hate.West Side Story is truly a special movie, I personally don't know why it's not on the top 250 IMDb movies, if you are going to watch a musical this is the one that I always recommend. We don't get musicals to this big scape any more, they don't have the same heart as West Side Story had. The actors are absolutely incredible, it's so weird when I watched a documentary on this movie, apparently Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer hated each other, but I guess that must help during the lust scenes because hate and love are practically in the same category when it comes to passion. But the true stars of the film are Rita Moreno as Anita and Russ Tamblyn as Riff, great performances from the both of them. West Side Story is a movie that has no flaws what so ever and anyone who wants to argue me on that, feel free to send me a message.10/10
Dynamic and exhilarating landmark musical offering a still-topical spin on the age-old "Romeo and Juliet" story. (by gbrumburgh)
It is a testament to the musical and theatrical brilliance of "West Side Story" that this teenage urban love story, set to Shakespeare's classic "Romeo and Juliet," has survived its outmoded 50s-style book Arthur Laurents replete with "Dead End Kids" posturings and corny, streetwise lingo I still cringe when I hear the word "daddio" . For nowhere will you experience such electrifying, jaw-dropping choreography Jerome Robbins . Nowhere will you thrill to a more exhilarating, passionate, full-throttled score Leonard Bernstein, with Stephen <more>
Sondheim providing the libretto . And nowhere will you find a more dynamic, better-crafted musical that arguably surpasses its Broadway stage predecessor from overture to finale.Maria, a lovely, innocent Puerto-Rican girl "Juliet" and sister of a formidable gang leader, falls for an opposing though reluctant white-skinned gang member Tony "Romeo" with tragic results. Set in a tough New York neighborhood where the two disparate groups, the Jets "the Montagues" and Sharks "the Capulets" , battle for street territory armed with knives, zip guns and rocks, the determined love affair sets off a calamitous chain of events that, in the end, manage to instill hope in diversity. Topical enough?The strength of "West Side Story" is that it does not try to hide its stage roots. It still unfolds like a musical play. The film is expanded but the talented cast is not dwarfed by on-location surroundings or panoramic camera work "South Pacific" fell victim to this . On the contrary, the cast lights up every single playing space with sure-footed aliveness and plenty of 'tude. Co-directors Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins stay true to the original, having the sense not to alter or butcher the score "Man of La Mancha" or haul in a slew of new, untried songs "On the Town", which actually worked for that musical . In a particularly "Wise" move sorry , two numbers were repositioned to enhance or intensify the narrative flow. In the film version, the "Officer Krupke" number sparked by a goofy Three Stooges-like levity, is moved earlier into the proceedings BEFORE the serious rumbles start, serving neatly as a light and humorous anti-establishment statement. The tightly-coiled, finger-snapping "Cool" number is pushed way back, giving both song and situation a heightened impact as it goads and ignites the Jet's feelings of pent-up rage and retaliation AFTER their leader is murdered. Smart move, daddio.The late Natalie Wood has been crucified by critics for her ethnic portrayal of Maria ever since day one. It was not because of any political incorrectness at the time reigning Hollywood white glamour queen goes Latino for that hot issue didn't erupt until decades later. It was her limited range as an actress. But over the years, I have grown accustomed to Wood. Yes, despite the melodramatic leanings, the necessity of vocal dubbing by the incomparable Marni Nixon , the flawed Puerto-Rican accent and the general overuse of Coppertone, I still feel for this Maria. What Wood does offer is utmost sincerity and heartfelt poignancy. So I'm one person who has gotten off the Natalie Wood-bashing wagon. Richard Beymer is another matter. An extremely weak, uncool choice for Tony, his toothy, freshly-scrubbed, chipmunk-like mug and awkward gait reads more like library assistant than gang member. Who would have thought Beymer would be the one to dazzle us much later in the totally cool and offbeat "Twin Peaks"? Still, Wood and Beymer commit themselves 100% and manage to create a credible, if not charismatic, love duet that doesn't get in harm's way.Since the film's emphasis is really on dance, it's the flashy second leads who provide the real firepower. Rita Moreno's smouldering Anita "The Nurse" is a spitfire of anger and attitude, while George Chakiris as her Shark leader boyfriend Bernardo "Tybalt" demonstrates slick, controlled menace. Both Oscar-awarded here, Chakiris, in his debut, proved a lightweight acting talent himself, never finding a role like this again. Russ Tamblyn as Riff "Mercutio" , the recently inaugurated leader of the Jets, is a hotbed of jaunty, scrappy impatience. Both he and Chakiris are riveting as they demonstrate poetry in motion, leading a pack of Edward Villela-like tough guys into athletic, gravity-defying dance moves."Romeo and Juliet vs. the 'Hood" should be required viewing for all grade-school children solely on the basis of art and education. The adults already know the value of this treasure.
Although I think I've seen just about every musical there is from the forties to the seventies, I'd never seen West Side Story until last night. An amazing omission on my part, as having seen it, I just think it's simply wonderful.I bought the DVD "on spec" in a CD/DVD exchange store in Sydney for $10. I've had it in my hand a couple of times before but have always put it back on the shelf. This time I went through with the purchase and am now wondering what could have come over me, not buying it before.Those here who have said you really need to watch it on the Big <more>
Screen are absolutely right. In my case I watched it using a video projector throwing the image, big, bright and beautiful, onto a 12 foot screen. The photography used the wide screen format uncompromisingly. There was no caution here to frame the action for possible television cropping, or even much consideration given to a 2.35:1 "Cinemascope" presentation. Super Panavision's aspect ratio is not as wide as Cinemascope's 2.35:1, and every square inch of screen space was used for one or another important element of composition.Bernstein's music is a tour de force. Having watched On The Town only a few days back, it was interesting to contrast the two musicals. On The town is, of course, 15 years or so older than West side Story, but a comparison between the two scores is chalk and cheese. You could tell that Bernstein was holding himself back in On The Town. It wasn't his project. The numbers were almost self-censored. But West side Story was his baby, and it shows.The sheer brilliance of the music, the enchanting daring of it, its raucous atonality coupled with sweetness of melody are awesomely impressive, as show-stopper after show-stopper is thrown onto the screen to continually up the amazement quotient, time after time. I played West Side Story loud, very loud. The surround sound knocked my socks off from the opening aerial ambiance of Manhattan streets to the orchestrations themselves. I remember Bernstein in the documentary about the concert version of West Side Story saying, aside to the camera, after "Cool, Boy" was recorded, "You know, this is pretty good..." One of the great understatements, even if coming from the music's creator.See this film. Play it loud. Watch it on a big screen if you can. If you do you may, like I did, sit there thrilled, swinging your head from one side of the Super Panavision screen to the other, trying to take in the overwhelming avalanche coming at your eyes, your ears and your heart. It was an almost perfect transfer from film to DVD: color, sharpness, depth. It's been a long while since I've watched a film with a silly grin on my face right through, sometimes gasping at the sheer knock-out brilliance of what film-making can be at its best. West Side Story was one of those times.
A shame that it's not in the top 250. (by trumpman30)
One of the truly great musicals of all time, its a shame that those who do not care for musicals have to vote to bring it down. If you do not care for musicals, then you should not vote a "1" just because you do not like ALL musicals. That aside, a great musical score with a great story to back it up. Leonard Bernstein out does himself in this movie. This is definetly a movie to see; an classic for all time. Like its trailer says, "West Side Story does not grow old."
Still dynamic, after all these years (by morgana-6)
It was a late Saturday night. I'd done my chores and decided to relax with some needlework before crawling into bed. Looking over my tapes, I decided it was time to visit West Side Story again, after some years. It was a fine choice. I would catch myself with my hands idle, as my eyes tracked the dancing, the most dynamic part of the film. I reveled in the Sharks on the rooftop and the gymnasium dance. "Cool" was cool, as always. This is a musical that doesn't try to transcend itself. It just lets the music and dancing speak for itself and offkey singing along is allowed at <more>
home . I've always felt that Richard Beymer was the weakest of the actors, and nothing has changed my mind. But he's easy to ignore in comparison to the outstanding performances of George Chakiris, Rita Morena who dominates the screen and steals all her scenes , Russ Tamblyn and the rest of the supporting cast. I'll leave the experts to make the minute comparisons to Romeo and Juliet, and to the critics to point out all the flaws. I'll just say, let yourself drift back to the 50s, break out the popcorn and enjoy.
Someday, We'll Find A New Way Of Living.... (by strong-122-478885)
"Hold my hand and we're half-way there... Hold my hand and I'll take you there...." Even though I'm not a big fan of this particular genre of film. I found West Side Story to be so impressively produced that it somehow transcended far beyond being just a mere "Musical" in the strictest sense of the word.West Side Story is literally bursting at the seams and filled to capacity with vivid imagery. This highly-energized film clearly captures the vibrant atmosphere of the late 1950s, where rival youth gangs get their prejudiced, little noses out of joint and <more>
prepare to rumble in the streets of NYC.With its memorable music and songs, dazzling choreography, striking sets and superb direction by Robert Wise, West Side Story is truly a triumph on every level.This film is a magnificent achievement that back in 1961 set a whole new standard for modern-day movie Musicals.
When you see this movie it's quite hard to believe that it was done more than forty five years ago, because it's so real, all through it's a musical, much because it's filmed out in the street and not in a studio. The actors voices also feels very modern, especially Russ Tamblyns. The love story is cute but never embarrassing. Though the most fascinating thing about "The West Side Story" is the smashing choreography. Everything, from dying to putting a fake gun back becomes a dance move, in a natural way. I'm not that much for dance really, but this is really <more>
good! The Movie gets kinda slow in the end, a bit TOO much dancing maybe? Some characters are a bit dull too, but overall, it's a great musical, if not even the greatest.
This movie drove me crazy. I barely forced myself to see it through because it is extremely annoyingly done and I rate such movies 2/10 1/10 is for those I gave up on , but when it finally ended I was under such an amazing impression that I wanted to rate it 10/10.The story is inspired by "Romeo and Juliet", but placed in NY in the mid-20th century, where two members of opponent teenage gangs fall in love. Acting, directing and music are great. The movie is extremely emotional and possesses strength and atmosphere of a theater. It has all prerequisites for excellence. And it won 10 <more>
Oscars. But...Everything in this movie is overemphasized and I hate that. However, if I observe it as a theatrical play on canvas, I can get over it.The movie starts with an instrumental intro with a frozen screen. It lasts around five minutes. At first, I thought my movie player was stuck, then I tried to find another version online and I almost gave up on watching this movie, when I finally realized it is supposed to be that way. Why would anyone do such thing I really have no idea, and that's the first minus.It's a damn musical. And one of those needlessly stretched to two and a half hours by completely redundant musical numbers. The first half of the movie is almost unwatchable and I was at the edge of giving up several times. But curiosity about how the story will go kept me going on. The story is great and some musical numbers tell parts of the story, but a good part of them just have no purpose in the movie. They are just for enjoying the music which I did not and to double the length of the film. That's the second minus.Just when I decided to stick it out or simply fast forward redundant parts and watch this movie till the end, the ultimate deal breaker happened that left me shocked. The scene where two gangs are closing to "battlefield" and mass brawl/rumble itself are shown in the form of ballet. BALLET?! Even if I didn't hate ballet, which I really do, I mean, really?! Teenage mass fight as a ballet... wtf?! The ultimately stupidest thing I saw on a big screen. Instant embarrassment transfer. Huge minus, I mean really really big.And then, in the middle of the movie, there's one more musical intermezzo with a frozen screen. That was too much for my nerves and I turned it off.But, later it bothered me how the story ends and I decided to see another half too, the very next day. The second half had more story and action and less redundancy, and musical numbers are a structural part of the plot. And the ending made me cry. And how should I rate it now...8/10Natalie Wood is so beautiful in this movie. Like an angel.