Open Letter to a great, golden-oldie-but-goody keeper of a classic movie/musical, West Side Story;
Hey, West Side Story!
You are one fantastic film--it's a small wonder that so many people love you. The people who created both the stage musical and the film of you, West Side Story were/are fabulous people who've fought the good fight to preserve your integrity and not turn you into a cheap, updated, mediocre-at-best production. For that, the people who created you deserve much respect and credit.
West Side Story, between your fabulous Bernstein musical score, your richly-colored costumes and photograpny, your beautifully-choreographed dancing by Jerome Robbins, your direction by the late Robert Wise, the well-chosen cast that was mostly taken from the original Broadway stage productions and put into the film version of you, the wonderful scenery, the cinema technology, not to mention the very story behind you, have all been combined together to make you, West Side Story, into a dynamic, beautiful package.
The only shortcoming I see in you is the fact that Richard Beymer was chosen as Tony, since he was rather weak and lacklustre; however, Natalie Wood did OK as Maria, although her hatred of Richard Beymer off-screen was quite obvious, and Richard Beymer was clearly pained by it.
West Side Story, you are exuberant, tense, gentle, sad, and tough all at once.
You have so many personalities to you that it's great. You're the only movie/musical that can pull that off. I've written a number of compositions about you on this website, as well as others, and it's another indication of your greatness. The fact that somebody even wrote a novelization of you is also indicative of your greatness, although the novelization of you was rather puerile and childish, and inaccurate, to boot. Nonetheless, I had fun reading it, just the same.
West Side Story: I can't really put a finger on why you're my favorite alltime film, but you most definitely are special. I've attended virtually every screening of you here in my area (the one exception being back in mid-March 2001, when an afternoon screening of you conflicted directly with my late dad's memorial, so I didn't attend that afternoon's screening.) Nonetheless, I've also seen you on TCM
(Turner Classic moviese) when it comes on TV, and, believe it or not, I've driven down to the Big Apple to see a screening of you at least twice in the past five years, which is fabulous.
It's not every film that I'd drive out of state to see, WSS, but you are most definitely special. WSS, I've also seen you in Providence, RI, and I've seen you up in New Hampshire.
Although I first got introduced to you by hearing the music back in the early 1960's, out at a day camp out west, I didn't the movie WSS, until I was a senior in high school, around Christmastime, 1968, shortly before you went on TV. I loved you from the start, and always will.
I went to your singalong screening just this last March and will attend your screening in mid-August of this year, which I’m also excitedly looking forward to.
Thank you, West Side Story, for h aving come into existence and pleased oh, so many people, including myself. Just the mention/thought of you, West Side Story, makes me smile, especially when I'm in a crappy mood. Although you're wonderful on TV, too, you're even more beautiful and fantastic on the great big, wide screen of a real movie theatre palace, with the lights down low. Even Richard Beymer's weak, lacklustre Tony comes off as more vital and alive on the great big, wide screen.
West Side Story: from the beautiful Bernstein musical score, to the aerial shots of NYC's West Side, to the warring Jets and Sharks, to the romancing Tony and Maria, to Schrank, Doc, Krupke, and Bernardo, Riff, Anita and everybody else, not to mention the scenery, and richly-colored photography, and the fingersnapping, pulsating tempo, everything about you is even more beautiful and seems to take on a magical, almost 3-dimensional quality on the great big wide screen. Seeing you in NYC's renowned Radio City Music Hall one Saturday night in October 2001, foillowing 9/11, as well as in NYC's equally palatial Clearview/Ziegfeld Cinema five years later, was fantastic!!
West Side Story--the MGM quote "Unlike other classics, West Side Story grows younger" is absolutely and totally on target.
In America, nothing is impossible.