Director: Jerome Robbins | 152 minutes | drama, romance, musical | Actors: Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn, Rita Moreno, George Chakiris, Simon Oakland, Ned Glass, William Bramley, Tucker Smith, Tony Mordente, David Winters, Eliot Feld, Bert Michaels, David Bean, Robert Banas
Maria: “If Bernardo knew.” Tony: “We’ll let him know. I’m no one of ’em, Maria. ”Maria:“ But you are not one of us. And I am not one of you. ” In 1957, the musical “West Side Story” debuted at New York’s Winter Garden Theater on Broadway. The romantic and tragic love story between the American Tony and the Puerto Rican Maria drew the whole world to the cinema in 1961 and won no less than ten Oscars, including Best Picture: the birth of one of the greatest films of all time.
The story of the “West Side Story” is loosely based on William Shakespeare’s famous tale of lovers Romeo and Juliet. This time it’s Tony and Maria who fall for each other, not realizing that they are actually, at least, supposed to be enemies. Despite their love and respect for their own gang and origins, they cannot stay away from each other, with all the consequences that entails. With a lot of song and dance, the film works towards a climax – comparable to the tragic Shakespeare ending, and perhaps more tragic for the emotional viewer.
Natalie Wood (also known for the James Dean classic “Rebel Without a Cause”) stars as Maria. With her beautiful big eyes she radiates love. A funny detail is that her voice was not considered good enough to sing her songs herself and a so-called voice double was hired for her. Also lead actor Richard Beymer, who plays the role of Tony, was not allowed to sing his own lyrics. A detail that, fortunately, is completely unnoticeable. Both act and sing, very convincing.
The rest of the cast is also a real pleasure to watch and listen to. ‘America’, a duet between the girls and boys from the Sharks, is a wonderful combination of song and dance: “I like to be in America, OK by me in America, everything free in America… for a small fee in America” . Other songs such as “Maria”, “Tonight” and “I feel pretty” are also absolute hits that linger in your head long after watching the movie. A good dose of romance, drama, tragedy, humor, great choreography, beautiful music and fantastic lyrics. “West Side Story” is definitely a must see movie whether or not you are a fan of the “more singing and dancing than talking” genre. “West Side Story” can rightly be called the number one musical of all time.