WEST SIDE STORY (1961) C widescreen 152m dirs: Robert Wise, Jerome Robbins
w/Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Rita Moreno, George Chakiris, Russ Tamblyn, Simon Oakland
The Broadway musical masterpiece about rival white and Puerto Rican gangs in a New York ghetto becomes a spectacular movie. Robbins' choreography in this modern Romeo and Juliet story is enhanced greatly by the magnificent New York City location photography. The familiar score by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim hasn't diminished in quality.
From Georges Sadoul's Dictionary of Films : "This Romeo and Juliet musical is based on a successful stage musical that ran for three years on Broadway. The book and lyrics were retained but the dances were almost entirely restaged, being shot in five weeks largely on location in West Side areas scheduled for demolition. Production was completed over six months in reconstructed sets representing the urban background. Its choreographic style is in direct contrast to the early Busby Berkeley or Ziegfield [sic] style of musical and even to the later developments of [Vincente] Minnelli, Gene Kelly, and Stanley Donen. Based on interracial tensions its story is dramatic and almost all the dance sequences, designed and directed by Jerome Robbins, are excellent. Especially memorable sequences: the opening 'Jet Song' danced in the streets; the sequence in the gymnasium where 'Romeo' meets 'Juliet' followed by the 'In America' number; the satirical 'Gee, Officer Krupke'; the bloody fight between the two gangs in a garage; the final sequence of Tony's dead body being borne away. ... Natalie Wood's voice was dubbed by Marni Nixon and that of Richard Beymer by Jimmy Bryant. One of the most successful aspects of the film is Saul Bass's credit titles, which start with abstract lines and end up coinciding with an aerial view of New York as the overture develops into excellent stereophonic sound effects. West Side Story cost six million dollars and was an enormous international success."
Winner of ten (count 'em) Oscars: Best Picture, Directors, Supporting Actor (Chakiris) and Actress (Moreno), Color Cinematography, Color Art Direction, Sound, Scoring of a Musical Picture, Editing, Color Costume Design.