Saturday, August 30, 2008

West Side Story

Dir: Robert Wise, Jerome Robbins, 1961 (8.6*)
Best Picture (AA, GG)
AFI Top 100
West Side Story shows a tremendous improvement in widescreen dvd, you can finally see all the dancers just like in the theaters! The general premise sounds scary: retell Romeo and Juliet in a modern urban setting with dancing New York street gangs, in this case the white Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks, whom I'll have to admit were much sharper dressers. George Chakiris leads the latter, in an Oscar-winning, charm oozing role; he was also the best dancer, as was his girlfriend Rita Moreno, also an Oscar winner. Not faring as well were lead Natalie Woods, and once again we have to hear Marnie Nixon's voice doing the singing, who also sang for Deborah Kerr in The King and I, and Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady; nor male lead Richard Beymer but the rest of the film overcomes their overacting, the soapy parts keep this from being a perfect 10. The highlights are the unique jazz classical score by Leonard Bernstein, and the modern dance choreography of Jerome Robbins, let go midway during production for going way over budget (but it shows!), who shared director's credit and also the Oscar for directing with Robert Wise (Sound of Music), who does the more boring, lame exposition stuff. 10 Oscars


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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