Saturday, February 27, 2010

Something's Coming

DVD of the Month: West Side Story!!!
West Side Story 1961 musical film of based on the stage musical by the same name. It stared Natalie Wood as Maria, Richard Beymer as Tony, Rita Moreno as Anita, George Chakiris as Bernardo, and Russ Tamblyn as Riff. It won 10 Academy Awards out of the 11 nominations it had. The book of the musical written by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The inspiration for the story was William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.

The story takes place in New York City in the 50s focusing in on the gang rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks. These two gangs come from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds and fail to see their similarities. The Sharks are first-generation Americans from Puerto Rico. The Jets are Caucasians who consider themselves the true Americans. Caught in between this battle are Tony and Maria. Tony is a Jets who falls in love with Maria, the sister of Bernardo who is the leader of the Sharks.
West Side story transformed American Theatre both on stage and on screen by tackling a dark theme focus on social problems present in modern day society all while creating a classic piece of cinematography . The film was prominently filmed in Los Angeles with set design by Boris Leven. The film does open with a sequence that was show in the streets of New York City. Famed director Robert Wise partnered with stage director Jerome Robbins to direct the film. Robbins directed the music and dance numbers while Wise took over the rest of the shots. The two clashed and Robbins was kicked off the project before it was finished. The two did however did give each other credit as co-directors of the piece.
Aside from the beauty of the film is the popularity that grew from score and dance numbers. With songs like "Something's Coming", "Maria", "America", "Somewhere", "Tonight", "Jet Song", "I Feel Pretty", and "Cool". It was only a matter of time before these famous numbers were re-done and become part of pop culture. They have been featured in Gap Ad’s, VMA commercials, TV-Flight of the Conchords, Film-Anger Management to name a few. Another fact about the film is that not all the stars did their own work. Beymer, Wood and Moreno tried to do their own singing, but their voices were overdubbed by Jimmy Bryant , Marni Nixon and Betty Wand. Also Rita Moreno's dancing was done by Rita Tanno in order to look sharper. Tanno played the role of Anita in the other production of the play.

This film is a must see for not only musical lovers but for anyone who loves cinema. I can watch this film over and over again. If you have cable then you are in luck. TCM will show West Side Story this Tuesday at 8pm EST, 5PST.
A rival of West Side story is currently running on Broadway and a national tour will start soon.
For more info on the stage show click here.

Also check out a great documentry called West Side Menories. Ovation TV shows the doc quite often.
"Something's Coming"-song from Westside Story

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