We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Last night, I attended a 50th anniversary screening of "West Side Story". The event was for one night only, and having never seen it anywhere but on TV, my better half felt it would be fun to see on the big screen. As usual, she was right.
The film has been digitally remastered for the 50th anniversary release, with the sound and picture as crisp as if it were filmed today.
Prior to the feature there were short interviews of Russ Tamblyn, Richard Beymer, George Chakiris, and Rita Moreno. Turner Classic Movies then interviewed Chakiris, producer Walter Mirisch, and Natalie Woods' singing voice double Marni Nixon. Each preview offered insight to the casting, the production, the choreography and the amazing amount of training and effort that went into the production.
The seamless nature in which the singing was dubbed is not noticeable. Pitch, accents, and lip synching were all managed extraordinarily well. Meanwhile, the framing of the shots and choreography are phenomenal. This remains true today even if we compare "West Side Story" to movies which take advantage of modern film and audio technology.
Themes within the movie itself are as alive today as they were when the concept was first proposed in 1949, and when it was released in 1961. "Officer Krupke" still covers all the topics which drive discussions on adolescent behavior. Is it the kids' fault, their parents', or society's that they are so 'bad'? Anyone who has raised a teen can relate the characters.
The primary theme, prejudice, is as old as the hills and will never go away. Absorbing this timeless classic does put a different spin to the whole concept of what it means to be an American, or part of a social grouping anywhere.
I was intrigued to learn that my office is across the street from the spot where outdoor scenes were filmed. A section of the Upper West Side, where Lincoln Center now stands, was being demolished for construction of the Center. Demolition was delayed in order to complete the outdoor scenes. It was co-director Bob Wise who believed the film needed to have the gritty New York feel.
At dinner each evening my wife and I are working our way through DVDs in the Alfred Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection of movies, which we bought recently. The first two not-so-famous movies we have watched, Hitchcock's early directorial efforts called Saboteur and Shadow of a Doubt, are simply awful, although they both get high praise on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) web site. I guess a lot of people who posted their ratings and comments were afraid to express an opinion that differs from what they think is expected. It avoids having to deal with conflict. We're now watching the movie Rope, which so far is better than the first two in the collection, but not by much.
Can't agree. I did the show in community theater 1971 and thought it was tremendous. I now can't stand the script or the music.
And the lyrics - horrible.
Assistant VIllage Idiot
I've seen WSS as the original plus several theater productions. The movie with Chakiris, Moreno and multiple other stellar performers serves as a great stage for addressing prejudice, class, and the other ills confronting our youth over several generations. The dance routines intigued many of my contemporaries into modern jazz. Thanks for the review.