AFI #51 – West Side Story

West Side Story - PosterWest Side Story

1961

Directed by Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise

Netflix says… Winner of 10 Academy Awards including Best Picture, this classic musical set among the tenements of New York City finds star-crossed lovers Maria (Natalie Wood) and Tony (Richard Beymer) caught in the midst of a turf war between rival street gangs. The modern Romeo and Juliet story features original choreography by Jerome Robbins, as adapted from the Broadway stage production. Oscar winners Rita Moreno and George Chakiris co-star.

Mom tried to make me watch this one when I was a kid. Her reasoning, in theory, made good sense. After all, I liked other musical films: The Sound of Music, Grease, The Wizard of Oz. But I could never get more than 10 minutes into West Side Story. The problem I had was with the gangs. These were the tough guys? These were the guys that intimidated everyone in the neighborhood? The ones that are hopping around, arms flailing about, snapping in unison? I just couldn’t see it. Now that I’ve sat through the whole thing, I can plainly say it’s not my kind of story. Some of the music was good, but overall not impressive. But I liked it better when it was called Romeo & Juliet (and I didn’t even like that all that much).West Side Story - Snapping

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