Tuesday, May 14, 2019

West Side Story (1961)

Netflix subscribers: This is the last month to watch West Side Story. It will be gone from the streaming part of the site on June 1.

Last night I watched all 2 and a half hours of the movie with high-quality headphones, which was a wonderful audio experience. The music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim are the star of the show. Aside from that, the movie has many flaws, some of which were pointed out in this insightful review by Roger Ebert. (That review gives away much of the plot including the ending, so I don't recommend reading it unless you've seen West Side Story — which has a significantly different story from Romeo and Juliet even though that was the inspiration.)

Rita Moreno, as Maria's friend Anita, is the standout actor of the original. Ebert points out that it was fitting that she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, but that the two lead actors weren't nominated for Oscars (even though the movie won 10 Oscars overall including Best Picture — the most ever for a musical).

Now Rita Moreno is 87 years old, and she's going to play a different role in a remake of West Side Story directed by Stephen Spielberg, which is supposed to come out in December 2020. She'll be a female version of Doc, the drugstore owner.

If you watch the 1961 movie on Netflix, as soon as the closing credits start, the site will quickly shrink the screen and tell you another movie is about to start. I recommend overriding this by clicking back to West Side Story and watching it to the very end of the inventively done closing credits.