West Side Story Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ October 19, 2013
The story is Romeo and Juliet set to music.
The film's highlights are the music and songs that give resonance to Shakespeare's classic tale and the wonderfully arresting performance by Natalie Wood.
What I don't like about the film is the choreography. Set against the rough and tumble backdrop of New York City slums, these dancers are performing balletic and graceful moves the majesty of which belie the film's themes and social and economic realities. In and of themselves, the dances are fun and enticing, but there is a true disconnect between them and the story.
Here is a thought that is as yet only a germ in my brain: I find it odd that the white characters' complaints about their environment are social and economic -- big world issues -- whereas the Latinas embrace the social and economic realities of American life. They feel honored to be here despite the racial realities with which they are faced. It is as though the film, in a strain of racism, won't permit its minority characters any reasonable revolt. As I said, I think I need to develop this thought more, but I'm still convinced there's something fishy about this film vis a vis race relations.
Overall, it's fun and good, but it's certainly not perfect.
Super Reviewer
August 21, 2013
It's a little weird. It's a classic, for sure, but the ballet-dancing, overacting, near-gangbangers are just a bit absurd. Vivid and frenetic choreography and music (with a few oversyncopated atonal hot messes like "Something's Coming" and "A Boy Like That/I Have a Love"), but the Puerto Rican accents sometimes slip, and the "brownface" make-up is disturbingly noticeable, especially in Rita Moreno's case. She, George Chakiris, and even Jose De Vega as Chino are fantastic, but I'm disappointed that the leads, Richard Beymer and Natalie Wood, had to be dubbed by what seemed like professional but deliberately handicapped singers.
Mr Awesome
Super Reviewer
½ May 10, 2013
In 1962, the film version of the popular musical "West Side Story" won not one, not two, but ten academy awards. The American Film Institute placed it second on it's list of the greatest film Musicals of all Time, right after "Singin' In the Rain" (and above The Wizard of Oz). Obviously a film of this caliber doesn't need me or my praise, but I will share my opinion regardless. The premise of the film (and I assume of the stage version) is simple: what if Romeo and Juliet took place in modern (1961) New York, and instead of rival families separating the two lovers, it was rival gangs? The Jets vs. the Sharks, Americans vs. Puerto Ricans, white vs. hispanic, the barriers separating the two factions are distinct and seemingly uncrossable. So Maria (Natalie Wood) and Tony (Richard Beymer) find themselves falling in love at first sight when they meet at a dance, oblivious to the world around them. I'm sure the film version has technical advantages over the stage version, and the "first meeting" scene is a perfect example of this. It's a great piece of direction and artistry, undeniable artistry. Whatever your feelings about singing, prancing gang members, it would be impossible to ignore the artistry of the film on display. Add to this musical numbers that have entered into the cultural lexicon, and you have a near flawless film.
Super Reviewer
January 22, 2011
If only we could solve all our problems through interpretive dance. In this modern day adaption of Shakespeare's classic tale Romeo & Juliet, which was adapted from Ernest Lehman's broadway production, it's a singing and dancing group of gangs. There are two gangs pitted against each other in this town, first being the Jets, a group of hard-banging American-teens, and the Sharks, a group of Puerto Rican immigrants. For the time it took place/was filmed in, West Side Story looks, and sounds fantastic, and that was before the Blu-ray conversion. And I thought my trashy old DVD copy sounded great... West Side Story is a massive achievement in American cinema, so much so that it won ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. When you're a Jet, you're a Jet all the way!
Super Reviewer
½ June 13, 2006
Ice: Play it cool boy, real cool.
Super Reviewer
March 7, 2009
Although one of the great classic musicals I like this one less than such films as Yankee Doodle Dandy and Singing in the Rain. It uses the modern style where the story progressed through song and not alongside it. It sounds funny when I say, "There was too much singing in this musical for me." but that is exactly how I feel sometimes.

I didn't even realize until after watching it that is was based on a famous Shakespearian play. It was an amazing adaptation/revisualization and I can see why it was such a classic.
Super Reviewer
January 1, 2011
So perfect. A classic! Easily one of the best musicals, if not the best. A brilliant film.

One of the very first things that stands out about this film is colorful setting and scenery. The cinematography is fantastic in this film and it really sets it apart from so many other musicals.

The music and choreography is perfect as well. Normally, dudes running around with weird whistling music would result in me turning off the tv, but here, it is so perfect and so appealing. Also, this film has so many memorable songs such as "Maria," America," "Tonight," and "Somewhere." I have not seen the musical as most people haven't either, but these songs were somewhat familiar. It shows how much of an influence this film has had on film and music. I knew the melodies, yet I had never seen any version of the musical. In many other famous musicals such as "An American in Paris," I didn't even remotely know any of the songs. The musical score was absolutely perfect and stunning. I loved it!

The cast members all give fantastic performances. Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn, Rita Moreno, Geroge Chakiris...they all give powerful and convincing performances. This film easily could have fallen into cheese heaven, but it was brilliantly executed by the actors. The emotion was so intense! I love emotion and conflict, so this film delivers.

I'm not a huge fan of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, but this modern adaptation is perfect. I absolutely love the story! The best adaptation I have ever seen.

West Side Story is a perfect, classic film. Winner of 10 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director, it is truly a magnificent film. From the music, dancing, acting, cinematography, emotion, conflict, love, hate....it truly has it all! I absolutely love this film!
Super Reviewer
½ May 2, 2010
Well, it's West Side Story. Anyone with even a slight interest in musicals has seen it, and probably more than once. It's a variation of Romeo and Juliet, only with Puerto Rican and white teenage gangs instead of Montigues and Capulets, and frequent dance numbers instead of flowery prose.

Personally, I think it's good, but not one of my favorites. Some of the songs and performances are great, while others did nothing for me. There's no denying that the sets and choreography were all top-notch, and the tragic story is timeless, but there are better musicals, in my opinion.
Super Reviewer
September 5, 2010
I love this movie, it's one of my favourite musicals, and Robert Wise movies. It has a great story, cast, and songs. If you haven't seen this movie, you should see it right away.
Super Reviewer
½ December 9, 2008
The most monumental, commercial, and historically significant films of this century. Besides the fact that it's based off the play Romeo and Juliet, so bonus points, it's lively costumes, racial tension, and scintillating song and dance numbers make it the pinnacle of MGM's musical era.
Super Reviewer
August 3, 2006
A film I adored from young, based on Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet, WSS is an updated adaption of the original star crossed lovers theme.

Whilst this is a film made in 1961, the setup is still so relevant to gang rivalry in today's time, granted the style of storytelling in the forum of a musical with very dramatic song and dance, may not quite be the way this tale is shown, but all the same the meaning remains familiar.

Some very memorable songs throughout and of course like it's influence, a tragic love story.
Super Reviewer
March 19, 2010
i did not like the plot. this film was really weak but the singing was good.
Super Reviewer
June 4, 2010
I just don't know what possessed someone to remake Romeo and Juliet as a modern day musical, but somehow it has become a classic. I think on a serious note this a terrible movie and one of the corniest and unrealistic depictions of gang-life period. The acting is so hammy and over the top that I feel like someone should have told the production that it was ridiculous. The only good thing I can say about this movie is Robert Wise's above average looking musical sense, the crane shots are really the shining moment. It's a disaster and not even close to being the movie it is built up to be.
Super Reviewer
½ April 16, 2007
Pretty solid movie musical, but not completely solid or devoid of flaws and nitpicks. As far as being an adaptation of Romeo & Juliet goes, it's mostly faithful, but loses it (and badly) at the end by softening the tragedy. I loved how this movie went for social commentary and was a bit edgy, but at the same time, it could (and should) have been edgier, and it's hard for me to completely judge the historical accuracy of the events on display. The music and choreography are the best parts though, even though sometimes they lead to a bity of silliness and campiness. Basically the movie as a whole is uneven, but it's so energetic, fast-paced, and entertaining that ultimately it is a winner more than a loser. I'm not a fanboy for editing techniques like I am for camera gimmicks (like tracking shots and dolly zooms), but I loved the transitions and the artsyness of things-style that was showy, but not overbearing. I'd prefer it if things would have been really dark, but given the time it came out, and especially that the story is set as a musical, it is forgivable.
Super Reviewer
February 19, 2008
Beautiful Romeo and Juliet story. :)
Super Reviewer
December 3, 2009
Yes Cheesy is a right word. Couple of Musicals are great but this one is easily forgetable.
Super Reviewer
½ January 18, 2007
a true masterpiece of cinema, west side story transcends its absurdities to become one of the great musicals of all time. although a few of the actors werent the greatest singers, the songs were perfectly crafted, the story well executed, and the cinematography gave us many memorable scenes.
Super Reviewer
½ May 24, 2009
Too long. Haha!
Super Reviewer
January 13, 2007
What can I say? Maria and the wedding song are 2 of the most BEAUTIFUL songs ever written or sung!!! Bernstein has to be the greatest American composer EVER!
Super Reviewer
November 24, 2008
There's a place for us.... and it's where tough gangs dance.
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