Without a doubt, one of the most popular film musicals of all time, West Side Story does what so few film musicals end up doing; make a fun, engaging, enrapturing story without using the songs as a cop out or immersion-breaking necessities. I’ve seen West Side Story numerous times over the years, and each time has been just as rewarding as the time before. This is truly a film that rewards repeat viewings, which are always my favorite kind of films.
For those of you that haven’t seen this, as improbable as that may be, the film is simply a retelling of Romeo and Juliet in modern New York City, featuring rival gangs rather than rival families. The Jets and the Sharks have been feuding for years, but when one of their own falls for one of the others, what fates will befall all those involved, especially the two young would-be lovers? The rest you know, if you know anything of Romeo and Juliet, which if you went to high school at all you know well enough. The film is much more toned down from its source material, however; the way the film treats gang rivalries is very playful, and an impressionable youth might even take the wrong idea from a film like this, but at the very least, it aids the suspension of disbelief. The main two players, Richard Beymer and the always stunning Natalie Wood, are decent enough, but it’s the supporting cast that really shines, with George Chakiris and Rita Moreno both winning Supporting Acting Oscars.
This is another one that seems impossible to believe that anyone hasn’t seen it, but there have to be people out there who haven’t, and they need a good reason to give this one a go. Consider this a good reason; this is one of those few don’t-miss musicals that really are must sees. Of course, there’s the typical musical disclaimer; if you’re not a fan of musicals, this will do little to win you over, but if you’re at least open to the prospect, treat yourself to a viewing of this one.
Arbitrary Rating: 9/10