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West Side Story

Posted by martinteller on October 20, 2007

I think all street gangs should have choreographed song & dance routines.  It makes the whole thing so non-threatening (and slightly homoerotic).  The epitome of toughness is, apparently, making corny sarcastic wisecracks.  This is kind of the polar opposite of Alice: taking something as ugly as gang violence and making it wholesome.  It’s rather laughably quaint.  Not that I expect Menace II Society in 1961, nor do I believe that gangs were nearly as bad back then as they are today, but still… it’s 10 years AFTER Bunuel made Los Olvidados.  However, the giggle factor does go away after the rumble scene when things become more serious (except for the silly “Cool, Boy” routine).  What lingers throughout, unfortunately, is the awful casting of Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer.  These two have about as much fiery passion as Fred and Ethel Mertz.  And the less said about Wood’s pathetic Puerto Rican accent, the better.  As a modern update of “Romeo & Juliet” with contemporary issues, the movie pretty much works, and it’s fueled by its energetic dynamism.  And the music is terrific… certainly miles better than the saccharine and annoyingly repetitive The Sound of Music.  It’s just a shame it’s so crippled by its uninspiring leads.  Rating: 7


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