Yay!! Hear Ye! Hear Ye!!

The original 1961 film version of West Side Story will be re-released in selected movie theatres, on a national basis, on Sunday, June 24th, at 2:00 p. m. and 7:00 p. m., and on Wednesday, June 27th, at 2:00 p. m. and 7:00 p. m. Fathomevents.com, Fandango.com, and Amazon are all good ways to procure your tickets. The more people go to see this great, golden oldie-but-keeper of a classic movie-musical nationwide, the better for this film things will be.

I've already purchased my tickets for myself and other people whom I'll be going with on both of those dates online, and printed them up. I'm very excited about it! Yay!!

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My Favorite Quotations from West Side Story:

Since West Side Story is my all time favorite film,  there are certain quotes from this great, golden oldie-but-keeper of a Classic movie-musical that are favorites of mine, due to their adding a certain vitality, exuberance and beauty, and funniness to it.  Here they are, in no particular order:<lj-cut>...

"Ya wanna live in this lousy world?  Play it cool!"  

 This particular quote is generally a great piece of advice to follow, and often quote to myself when things in life become particularly tense, or screw ups have occurred.  It's way easier said than done, sure, but good advice, nonetheless, which I admittedly have difficulty following, at times.

"Cracko-Jacko!  Down goes a teenaged hoodlum!"  

This is a funny quotation by A-Rab, as Anybodys pretends to shoot him when he says to her  "You ain't never gonna get married.  Too ugly."

"Ah, go walk the streets like ya sister!"  

This is an equally funny quotation by Baby-John, who responds when Anybodys insults him by saying to him,  "You know what a zip gun could make you do!  You better wear diapers."

"When I get through with you, you will be like a fish after skinning!"  

This is Bernardo's quote to ex-Jet gang leader, Tony, who suggests that the rumble be made into a "fair" fight, with fisticuffs,  during the pre-Rumble war council between the Jets and Sharks at Doc's Candy Store, since he's clearly looking forward to fighting Tony at the Rumble, which doesn't happen, since Riff picks Ice to fight Bernardo instead.  

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West Side Story--A Film that Beckons Me to Come and See It Again and Again:

I've seen a number of good movies, both older and newer films that  I've liked a great deal, some well enough to have seen more than once.  Yet, there is one film that holds a special place in my heart regarding movies--so special, in fact, that it beckons  me to come and see it every time it either comes on TV, or in a movie theatre either in my area, or within reasonable driving distance.  Not only do I make sure to see it when it comes to a movie theatre in my general area, but I have actually made special road trips to neighboring states, or to the opposite end of the Bay State, just to see it.   That particular film is....would you believe...West Side Story. <lj-cut>...

Why I've taken such a deep liking towards the film version of West Side Story is difficult for me to put a finger on at times, but at the same time,  I've also researched it a great deal, so I can learn as much as I can about what happened behind the scenes, and even about the actors/actresses themselves, especially the ones who played the strongest characters in the film West Side Story.  

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West Side Story--In a Special Class by Itself:

West Side Story, both as a stage production and as a film are  equally successful, beautiful and eerie, at the same time.  Because of the very subject matter, the urban setting(s), the intensely brilliant Leonard Bernstein musical score, and the scenery, all both on stage and on screen, as well as the beautifully choreographed dancing by (the late) Jerome Robbins, all of which help to tell the story behind West Side Story,  this great golden oldie-but-keeper of a movie/musical is not only equally successful on both stage and screen, but is still as relevant (and popular) today, as it was back in the day when it first came out, into vogue, and into the very heart of the human psyche.<lj-cut>...

As a stage production, as well as the film version, West Side Story is a musical that seriously needs a really top-notch orchestra, a top-notch cast, top-notch dancing,  and a top-notch scenery designer in order for it to really work out as it is supposed to.  Perhaps this is due to a combination of the following:   the very subject matter of West Side Story as a musical, the brilliant Bernstein musical score, the scenery sets that occur both on stage and on screen, the beautifully-choreographed dancing, which plays a huge part in the narration of the story behind West Side Story,  and the very story itself.  

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West Side Story--Very Special, and in a Class by Itself:

West Side Story is a very rare and special musical that's in a class by itself.  Never has there been a musical that's so spectacular on both stage and screen alike.  Because of the subject matter, the intensely brilliant Leonard Bernstein musical score that combines jazz, pop, Latin, Calypso and classical music into one score, the beautifully-choreographed dancing by (the late) Jerome Robbins, as well as where the very story behind West Side Story is set,  West Side Story is one of the few musicals that is not only equally successful on stage and screen, but is equally exciting, as well. <lj-cut>... 

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West Side Story (the 1961 film)--in Portsmouth, New Hampshire:

Just this past Thursday afternoon, I made the scenic drive up from Somerville, MA to Portsmouth, NH, for yet another viewing of the film West Side Story, at the Cinemagic Stadium 10 Theatre, where they showed this particular film as this month's part of their Cult Classic events.  Leaving Somerville at around 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon,  I arrived in Portsmouth, NH, at around 4:30 in the afternoon, checked into the Quality Inn just a little ways down the road from the theatre where I was to spend the night after the film, and then had a very good seafood dinner at a very nice restaurant nearby, called The DinnerHorn<lj-cut>...


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As the film didn't start  until 8:00 p. m., and I had arrived at the restaurant at a little before six, I was able to have a leisurely dinner, and the staffpeople were quite nice, and efficient, as well.  At a little before seven, I drove back up to the movie theatre, which is located in sort of a mall.  It was a very nice, clean theatre, with comfortable aerobic chairs, and stadium-type seating, so that one could look directly at the movie screen and not at the backs of people's heads, while watching a movie.

The screen was nice and wide, it was somewhat curved/concaved, and it was a somewhat longer, narrow screen than many other movie theatre screens, which made the film West Side Story stand out even more.  Since they showed a Hi-Def, remastered print of West Side Story, the soundtrack was really pristine, as was the film itself.  Since I never fail to notice at least one or two things that I failed to notice at the last viewing(s) of this particular film,  not only was I  able to notice the various facial expressions and various movements, and the angry, gruff, and frustrated tones of the utterances of the various characters in the film, especially those of the warring Jets and Sharks, but I did notice the various facial expressions and the frustrated, equally gruff and cynical vocal tones of the adults (i. e. Lt. Schrank, Doc, Ofcr. Krupke, and "Glad Hand"), as well.


The Jets  not only looked tougher,  but seemed to act a great deal tougher in this particular print of West Side Story, and their facial expressions seemed much angrier, as well.  The Jet girls (i. e. Graziella, Velma and Anybodys), seemed to look and act much angrier and tougher, as well.  Graziella's  expression of rage and angry tone in response to  Action's question  "What're we poopin' around with dumb broads?", of  "I and Velma ain't dumb!" was far more noticeable and seemed to stand out more, as well.  Anybodys, too, seemed tougher-looking, and so did her attitudes and  expressions of determination to gain acceptance as an equal by the Jets.  They all seemed more wise-guy-ish, as well.  So did the Sharks, in a way.

The Sharks and their girls, on the other hand,  seemed to be more angry, and more sardonic, as well.  Their expressions seemed to indicate that, as well.  Maria seemed more womanly, in  her expressions, movement, and temperament, even though she, too, was quite young.

Among the adults, Doc's aggravation and frustration with the Jets' and Sharks' persistent refusal or inability to be moved into a different direction which they were inevitably headed due to the constant conflict, hatred, and fighting over turf, and the ethnic/racial battles, was clearly more noticeable, as were both Lt. Schrank and Ofcr. Krupke's gruff voices, tough and bitter attitudes that had developed through years of hard experience, and no-nonsense looks when they, too, tried to deal with the warring Jets and Sharks.  Anita and Bernardo, the prominent couple of the Sharks, seemed more fiery but sardonic, and angry, as well.


Tony seemed sweet, soft and reformed, but with a little bit of roughness and  toughness left over from his life on the street, and being the founder and leader of a gang (i. e. the Jets).  Although he was in love with Maria and tried to be tender, it often seemed that the old "street" Tony was waiting to come out at some point or other, despite his love for Maria.  Eventually,  it did come out, during the Rumble, when he stabbed Bernardo to death for having stabbed Riff, who Tony clearly had still been quite close to and they still had a brotherly friendship, despite the fact that Tony had stepped away from the Jets.

Nonetheless, there was much gentleness in West Side Story, as well, as was indicated by Maria's and Anita's somewhat playful but serious bantering, when Maria asked Anita to lower the neck of the old white communion dress that Anita was fixing up for Maria to wear to the dance at the Gym that night.  The sarcasm and sardonic attitudes and expressions were also quite noticeable in the  America scene.

The various emotions, i. e. the exuberance, the insolence, arrogance, cockiness, sarcasm, hatred, love, romantic scenes, and the gruffness and aggravation and frustration, and the tough need to protect and compete for turf, plus the determination to both keep outsiders off one's turf, as well as determination of outsiders  to make their presence felt and be allowed onto that same turf.  It was also clear that both the Jets and the Sharks needed their girls to tame them somewhat, as well.   All of that culminated in the War Council that took place between the Jets and Sharks, after the Dance at the Gym, when Bernardo physically roughed up Tony for dancing with Maria.  Tony came in, and, at his insistence, it was to be a “fair” fight, where Bernardo and Ice would duke it out, at the Rumble.


The I Feel Pretty scene was a scene of exuberance and happiness for Maria, due to her new-found love, Tony, but it’s kind of hard to tell if her girlfriends, who also worked as seamstresses in the Bridal Shop  with her were making fun of Maria due to her acting kind of vain and too exuberant, or are sharing in her happiness.

The One Hand/One Heart  song/scene indicated Tony and Maria’s pledge of love through a mock wedding with the use of the bridal shop mannequins, and showed that the romance was going full swing for awhile.   The pre-Rumble Quintet, in which both gangs threatened each other, with their faces growing dark with fury, was the next step to what would come along—arguments, violence, and then the rattle of death.

The Rumble itself was beautifully done, and the dance steps perfectly accurate and intense.  This was the climax of the story, where everybody would reveal their true selves and would fight out their arguments over territory, as well as cultural and ethnic differences, and the competition for the crumbs left to them by a society that pitted, and still pits poor people against each other.  That was especially true of Tony, who stabbed Bernardo to death in retaliation for his having stabbed his old buddy, Riff.  Tony, I think, revealed his “street” side, when he did that.   Even more revealing was the fact that  he pointed out to Maria,

“Riff was like my brother, so when Bernardo killed him..

.”


The Cool scene/song, on the other hand, was sort of an anticlax of West Side Story,  when Ice, who’d taken over the Jets gang leadership after Riff’s death during the Rumble, admonished the Jets to keep cool, and not to exact any more revenge on the Sharks, especially since Chino was gunning for Tony, and that Tony had come through for the Jets (rather ironically, of course, due to the fact that he’d stabbed Bernardo to death in retaliation for his having killed Riff, his close buddy).

I Have a Love/A Boy Like That, was the sounding of both Maria and Anita about the love that one has (Maria’s love for Tony), and Anita, who’d loved Bernardo, and the warning to Maria on the part of Anita to “stick with your own kind”.  Yet, when Maria and Anita sing  “When love comes so strong, there is no right or wrong”, it meant that Anita had come to (grudgingly) accept Maria and Tony’s romance, although she certainly disapproved of it, openly, when Tony came to see Maria at the Bridal Shop, at closing time the next evening, as had been arranged by Tony and Maria.   That, too, was a very sad part of the movie, as was the part when Tony was shot and killed by Chino.

When Anita tells Maria that  Chino had a gun and was hunting for Tony, that roused Maria’s anger, and, at the excuse that Maria needed aspirin for her headache,  requested Anita to go to Doc’s store to warn Tony, after Schrank had called on Maria and Anita for questioning, and Maria made up a story of having danced with a boy from Puerto Rico named Jose, when Lt. Schrank mentioned that her brother had gotten into a heavy argument the night before, because she’d danced with the wrong guy.


Reluctantly, Anita goes to Doc’s Candy Store to warn Tony (after Anybodys, who’d found him while looking “in and out of the shadows”), who’d been hiding in Doc’s cellar, that Chino was gunning for him.  Action and the other Jets, (except Ice) were there.  They begin to insult Anita and to rough her up, despite her pleas to let her help them protect Tony from Chino, due to their fear that Anita would give away Tony’s hiding place to Chino, and their hatred for her ethnicity and culture.  Anita’s true feelings were revealed when she not only spat out a different message in anger after having been almost raped by the Jets, who were stopped by the sudden arrival of Doc

“Bernardo was right!   If one of you was bleeding in the street, I’d walk by and spit on you!"


and then,

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“I’ll give you a message for your American buddy:  You tell that murderer that Maria’s never going to meet  him.  Tell him Chino found about about him (meaning Tony) and Maria, and shot her.  She’s dead!”<lj-cut>...

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If West Side Story conveys the message that racial/ethnic hatred has  deleterious consequences,( i. e. gang violence, etc.), with reconciliation being possible despite that,  this classic also carries the message that there's a bit more to it:  That society has left, and continues to leave the poor people, be they native-born  and/or immigrants, to compete with each other for a small piece of the pie that has been  allocated to them.  It also proves that love, although it can develop amid such conflict, often goes up in smoke, in some way or other.  It was also clear, from the very beginning, that a Rumble was inevitable.  So was the fact that people would die as a result, and that the romance between Tony and Maria would go up in smoke.   Yet, it also proved that love can withstand the test of time, even though the one that a person's in love with dies as a result of such conflict, or whatever.

Yet, there were hints of possible reconciliation, as well.  What was sad is the fact that Maria felt that she had to succintly point out the fact that the hatred between the Jets and Sharks led nowhere, except death and destruction, through her message of;

"You all killed him (i. e. Tony), and my brother, and Riff!  Not with bullets and guns!  With hate!  Well.  I can kill too, because now I have hate!"


and then pointed Chino's gun all all of the Jets and Sharks, and helped scare them into at least realizing what they'd done and where they were headed, if one gets the drift.  That, too, was indicated by the fact that several Sharks and Jets came together in the end to carry Tony's body off, after he'd been shot dead by an angry, jealous Chino (who Maria’s brother, Bernardo, had brought Maria to the Continental United States to marry),  and by the fact that Action gently stepped towards Maria, as well as the fact that Baby-John, the youngest Jets member, gently draped Maria’s black scarf that she wore in mourning of Bernardo’s and Tony’s deaths, over her head and shoulders.


Doc’s aggravation and frustration with the Jets was when Doc told the Jets to get out, and slapped Tony for being too excited about Maria and him going out to the country, having lots of kids, and naming them all after him, even the girls, and then telling him about Anita’s message, but he gave Tony some cash, just the same, as he wondered why the kids had to live like there was a war on and kill each other.    Devastated by Anita’s message, Tony goes out into the street, yelling for Chino to “come get him, too!”. as he didn’t want to live any more, after Maria had supposedly been killed.

All told, West Side Story is a wonderful story in its own right, fleshed out by expert cinematography by the late Daniel Fapp, who won an Academy Award for his cinematography, as well as the beautifully-choreographed dancing by the late Jerome Robbins, and the intensely brilliant musical score by Leonard Bernstein.

It was well worth the drive up to Portsmouth, NH, and the stay at the nice hotel just down the road from the movie theatre, just to see a fabulous movie, and to have a wonderful time.  Although the screening of the film West Side Story didn’t sell out, there was a good crowd, and we all had a great time.

West Side Story (the 1961 Film)--in Portsmouth, NH:

Yesterday afternoon, I made the scenic drive up from Somerville, MA to Portsmouth, NH, for yet another viewing of the film West Side Story, at the Cinemagic Stadium 10 Theatre, where they showed this particular film as this month's part of their Cult Classic events.  Leaving Somerville at around 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon,  I arrived in Portsmouth, NH, at around 4:25 in the afternoon, checked into the Quality Inn just a little ways down the road from the theatre where I was to spend the night after the film, and then had a very good seafood dinner at a very nice, nearby restaurant called The Dinnerhorn.  As the film didn't start  until 8:00 p. m., and I had arrived at the restaurant at a little before six, I was able to have a leisurely dinner, and the staffpeople were quite nice, and efficient, as well.  At a little before seven, I drove back up to the movie theatre, which is located in sort of a mall, but it was a very nice, clean theatre, with comfortable aerobic chairs, and stadium-type seating, so that one could look directly at the movie screen and not at the backs of people's heads, while watching a movie<lj-cut>...Collapse )

The screen was nice and wide, it was somewhat curved/concaved, and it was a somewhat longer, narrow screen than many other movie theatre screens, which made the film West Side Story stand out even more.  Since they showed a Hi-Def, remastered print of West Side Story, the soundtrack was really pristine, as was the film itself.  Since I never fail to notice at least one or two things that I failed to notice at the last viewing(s) of this particular film, I was able to notice the various facial expressions and various movements, and the tones of the utterances of the various characters in the film, especially those of the warring Jets and Sharks, but I did notice the various facial expressions and vocal tones of the adults (i. e. Lt. Schrank, Doc, Ofcr. Krupke, and "Glad Hand"), as well.

The Jets  not only looked tougher,  but seemed to act a great deal tougher in this particular print of West Side Story, and their facial expressions seemed much angrier, as well.  The Jet girls (i. e. Graziella, Velma and Anybodys), seemed to look and act much angrier and tougher, as well.  Graziella's  expression of rage and angry tone in response to  Action's question  "What're we poopin' around with dumb broads?", of  "I and Velma ain't dumb!" was far more noticeable and seemed to stand out more, as well.  Anybodys, too, seemed tougher-looking, and so did her attitudes and  expressions of determination to gain acceptance as an equal by the Jets.  They all seemed more wise-guy-ish, as well.  So did the Sharks, in a way.

The Sharks and their girls, on the other hand,  seemed to be more angry, and more sardonic, as well.  Their expressions seemed to indicate that, as well.  Maria seemed more womanly, in both expressions, movement, and temperament, even though she, too, was quite young.

Among the adults, Doc's aggravation and frustration with the Jets' and Sharks' persistent refusal or inability to be moved into a different direction which they were inevitably headed due to the constant conflict, hatred, and fighting over turf, and the ethnic/racial battles, was clearly more noticeable, as were both Lt. Schrank and Ofcr. Krupke's gruff voices, tough attitudes, and no-nonsense looks when they, too, tried to deal with the warring Jets and Sharks.  Anita and Bernardo, the prominent couple of the Sharks, seemed more fiery but sardonic, and angry, as well.

Moreover, the voices of the warring Jets and Sharks, as well as the adults, seemed much rougher, more bitter, and gruffer, as well.

All told, if West Side Story conveys the message that racial/ethnic hatred has  deleterious consequences,( i. e. gang violence, etc.), with reconciliation being possible despite that,  this classic also carries the message that there's a bit more to it:  That society has left, and continues to leave the poor people, be they native-born  and/or immigrant, to compete with each other for a small piece of the pie that has been  allocated to them.  It also proves that love, although it can develop amid such conflict, often goes up in smoke, in some way or other.  It was also clear, from the very beginning, that a Rumble was inevitable, and so was the fact that people would die, as a result, and that the romance between Tony and Maria would go up in smoke.   Yet, it also proved that love can withstand the test of time, even though the one that a person's in love with dies as a result of such conflict, or whatever.

 Yet, there were hints of possible reconciliation, as well.  What was sad is the fact that Maria felt that she had to succintly point out the fact that the hatred between the Jets and Sharks led nowhere, except death and destruction, through her message of  "You all killed him (i. e. Tony), and my brother, and Riff!  Not with bullets and guns!  With hate!  Well.  I can kill too, because now I have hate!", and then pointed Chino's gun all all of the Jets and Sharks, and helped scare them into at least realizing what they'd done and where they were headed, if one gets the drift.  That was also indicated by the fact that several Sharks and Jets came together in the end to carry Tony's body off, after he'd been shot dead by an angry, jealous Chino, as well as by the fact that Action gently stepped towards Maria, and  the fact that Baby-John, the youngest.

Tony seemed sweet, soft and reformed, but with a little bit of toughness left over from his life on the street, and being the founder and leader of a gang (i. e. the Jets).  Although he tried to be tender, it often seemed that the old "street" Tony was waiting to come out at some point or other, and, despite his love for Maria, it did come out, during the Rumble, when he stabbed Bernardo to death for having stabbed Riff, who Tony clearly had still been quite close to and they still had a brotherly friendship, despite the fact that Tony had stepped away from the Jets.

Nonetheless, there was much gentleness in West Side Story, as well, as was indicated by Maria's and Anita's somewhat playful bantering, when Maria asked Anita to lower the neck of the old white communion dress that Anita was fixing up for Maria to wear to the dance at the Gym that night.  The sarcasm and sardonic attitudes and expressions were also quite noticeable in the America scene.  The various emotions, i. e. the exuberance, the insolence, arrogance, cockiness, sarcasm, hatred, love, romantic scenes, and the gruffness and aggravation and frustration, and the tough need to protect and compete for turf, plus the determination to both keep outsiders off one's turf, as well as the determination to be allowed onto that same turf, if one gets the drift.

The Officer Krupke song also deals with the fact that the Jets, as well as the Sharks, also had issues:  lack of parental guidance and love, extreme poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, delinquency, and conflict with the law.

All told, although the movie didn't sell out, there was a good crowd, and everybody, including myself, had a wonderful time seeing a wonderful movie.

West Side Story (film): The Message--A Double-Edge Sword, but Great, Nonetheless:

West Side Story, as I've pointed out many times before, is my all time favorite movie, hands down. It's a film that I never get tired of seeing over and over again, especially when it's shown on a great big, wide screen, in a real movie theatre, with the lights down low, and a sharing of the experience with a whole bunch of other people, however temporarily, whether one knows them or not.

I've rarely missed a screening of the film West Side Story in my area, and it always feels fresh and new to me, as if I'm viewing it for the very first time, because I always notice at least one or two things in subsequent viewings of this film that I failed to notice in the last viewing. Since it has not played in our area for at least a year, I'm eagerly awaiting and hoping for some more screenings of the film West Side Story to come back to this neck of the woods.

Now for the crux of my essay:

Both the original Broadway stage production and the film version of West Side Story were created during much more hopeful and optimistic times, when so much more seemed possible, despite much higher crime rates and racial/ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic tensions and hostilities here in the United States overall.

West Side Story, as I've pointed out, sends a message that's really a double-edged sword, but it's a very good message, nonetheless. West Side Story proves that the consequences of racial/ethnic/cultural hatred, gang violence, and general arrogance and hubris, and being constantly puffed-up with pride can be, and often are, quite deleterious, not only to the victim(s), but to the perpetrator(s) alike. While uncontrolled violence and the consequences to the victims and their friends/loved ones are harmful, it's also true that the perpetrator(s) of violence often end up on the receiving end of violence, as well. It also shows that gangsterism, as often as it exists in real life, even today, isn't the way to go, either. Sure, people often join gangs, because it gives them a sense of belonging, and a sort of an extended family, but there's no substitute for real families, friends and communities filled with love and unity.

Yet, there's also a more hopeful message from West Side Story, as well. Intergroup reconciliation and unity, as difficult and almost impossible as it often is, can still be possible. I know that in real life, street gangs don't go dancing through the city streets on their way to rumbles, and that people don't ordinarily fall in love at very first sight. If, however, in real life, people do fall in love at first sight, a lasting love based on mutual trust, commitment and devotion, takes time to grow and develop into something that's really substantial.

West Side Story, I think, is still very popular because, even today, it's still quite relevant. People throughout the United States and throughout the world, generally, still fight with each other, and wars still happen. Racism/racial & ethnic tensions and urban gang warfare still abound (although today, it's generally with guns, rather than fisticuffs and/or switchblade knives.), people still cross the racial/ethnic/color/religion divides to date, fall in love, and even marry and raise families.

West Side Story, despite being almost 55 years old, still tugs at my heartstrings after all these years. When I first saw the film version of WSS, at around Christmastime of 1968, as a Senior in high school, I was still a teenager in high school, so I was able to identify with the Jets, the Sharks and their girls as kids being kids, and so on, but when I got a little older, I began to develop a deeper appreciation for West Side Story, not only due to the story behind it, but because I love it as a strong work of art, and a larger-than-life piece of theatre on the movie screen. I fell in love with the film West Side Story at the start, have loved it ever since, and I still go to see it every time it comes around, much to the amusement and resignation of my family and my friends.

It's a wonderful film, and, if this great, golden oldie-but-keeper of a Classic ever comes to a great big, wide screen, in a real movie theatre in your area, I say jump at the chance to go and see it. You won't be disappointed.

The film version of West Side Story--NOTHING beats seeing this great classic in a real movie theatre

As everybody knows, West Side Story is still my all time favorite movie, hands down, and I see it every time it comes around, whether it be on TV (on the TCM Channel), oron a great big, wide movie screen, in a real movie theatre.

No matter how many people claim that watching the movie West Side Story on an expensive, elaborate home theatre system, with a great big television, on a Hi-Def DVD version of West Side Story, with quadraphonic stereos all around, absolutely nothing beats seeing this great golden oldie-but-keeper of a classic film on a great, big wide screen, in a real movie theatre, with the lights down low, and sharing the experience with a community of other people, even though it be on a temporary basis.

West Side Story is a beautiful musical, on both screen and stage. There are reasons why West Side Story, unlike many, if not most other musicals, was successful on both stage and screen:

A) When West Side Story was transferred from stage to screen, it was kept as a larger-than-lifesized piece of theatre.

B) Many, if not most of the actors/actresses who'd been in, or at least been involved with the original Broadway stage production of West Side Story were also in the movie, which brought extra talent.

C) The music to the film was very similar, as was the script, generally, to the way in which the music and the dialogue script to the original Broadway stage version of West Side Story had been composed/written.

D) The very story behind West Side Story is what also helped make this beautiful musical a real success on screen as well as on stage. As everybody knows, it's the story of conflict between two warring street gangs (i. e. the White Ethnic American Jets and the newly-arrived Puerto Rican Sharks) on the West Side of 1950's-1960's New York City, and a love that develops between both sides (Tony and Maria), which, although brief, due to going up in smoke due to the hatred between the two gangs, shows that reconciliation between people, as difficult as it can be and often is, still has possibilities, as is indicated in real life (i. e. urban gang warfare, racial/ethnic tensions, and people crossing the ethnic/racial/color barrier(s) to date, fall in love, and even marry.

E) There were some very talented photographers who managed to create wonderful affects without the use of expensive gadgets and exploding on the screen in order to obtain special affects.

F) Although a good part of the film version of West Side Story was filmed on NYC's West Side, (in Hell's Kitchen, to be exact), as well as in the streets of downtown Los Angeles, much of it was also filmed on a great big sound stage, where the scenery had been designed, by a very talented designer, to look uncannily like a true-blue, run-down urban area.

G) When the film West Side Story is shown on a great big, wide movie theatre screen, with the lights down low, it takes on a very magical, almost 3-dimensional quality. The scenery seems more expansive, and one can see all of it. The brilliant Bernstein musical score seems to take on a whole new intensity, and the beautiful, richly-colored photography and the beautifully-designed and colored costumes, seem much more brilliant and beautiful in their own right. So does the beautifully-choreographed dancing by the late Jerome Robbins.

H) The entire cast, from the warring Jets and Sharks to the romancing of Tony and Maria, as well as the romance of Anita and Bernardo of the Sharks, seem to move much more fluidly and freely, and in a much wider, more open space. Even Richard Beymer's Tony (who many people consider a rather weak, lackluster Tony) comes off as being much more vital when the film West Side Story is shown on a great big, wide screen, in a real movie theatre.

(Here's something about Richard Beymer that I wish to mention, however: Two or three years ago, I learned something about Richard Beymer that made me more willing than I'd been to give him the benefit of the doubt: A) Richard Beymer really wanted to play the role of Tony with more of an "edge", but certain directorial constraints were put on him by the late director, Robert Wise. (It's also said that Beymer was so disappointed in how he'd been made to portray Tony that he actually walked out of the Premier showing of the film West Side Story when it first came out.) (B) Natalie Wood made absolutely no secret of her hostility and resentment towards Richard Beymer, and I think that Beymer was clearly pained by Natalie Wood's hostility towards him..and it showed somewhat. (C) It also had a great deal to do with how the original script had been written, for both stage and screen. Having said all of the above, I believe that Richard Beymer might've played an even stronger, more intense Tony if those other circumstances hadn't been in place, but that's my opinion.)

While I've seen other older classic films that I've liked a great deal (and enough to see more than once), most of those classic films, even the ones I've liked a lot, do seem a little bit frayed around the edges with time. West Side Story, on the other hand, seems to not be frayed around the edges, and has withstood the test of time, beautifully, on the screen. Perhaps it's because of the very story behind this great musical, perhaps it's because of the costumes, photography and musical score, and perhaps it's because of the exceptional cast that was chosen for the film, and perhaps it was because of Boris Leven's wonderful design of the stage scenery that looked so uncannily like a run-down urban area, or perhaps due to the beautifully choreographed dancing by the late Jerome Robbins, and the wonderful directorial talent of Robert Wise. Perhaps, it's all of the above put together to make West Side Story the dynamic package that it is.

While other classic films that I've liked well enough to see more than once can and will take a back seat for something else (I can take or leave these other classics, and wait for them to come around again if need be.), West Side Story is a film that I cannot, for many reasons, resist seeing every time it comes around. It's a film that I never get tired of seeing over and over again, and it always feels fresh and new to me, like I'm seeing it for the very first time.

Not only have I seen it every time it comes to a movie theatre here in the Boston area, but I've even made special road trips to the opposite end of the state, or to neighboring states to see the film West Side Story.

The Town (movie) is so bad that it's good:

The Town--So Bad that it's Good:

Hey, folks, I'm in the mood to post this, so here I am. I recognize the fact that most people really like Ben Affleck's most recent movie, The Town, and I would've wanted to like it, too, but imho, there's too much wrong with The Town for me not to look at this film with much harsher judgement and a much more critical eye than many, if not most people.

I admittedly liked Ben Affleck a lot in Good Will Hunting. He and Matt Damon also did a great job working together in this particular movie. Good Will Hunting, imo, is a film that really worked. However, I think that Ben Affleck fell badly on The Town, and part if it is probably due to the fact that he took on two jobs; directing and playing the lead character.

Imho, The Town is an overrated, cheesy piece of junk that's more like a feature-length made-for TV soap opera than a regular movie, which never, ever should've made it into the cinemas at all, in the first place. Yet, I realize that, in order to get the democratic society that we all long for, different viewpoints have to be aired, no matter how much at odds they may be with each other. .

The cast is mediocre at best, the plot and story are overused, the Boston accents, especially on the part of Ben Affleck, are forced and way overdone, and the chemistry between Doug and Claire is non-existent to paltry, at best. One of the most, if not the most bothersome aspects of The Town is the message that it clearly conveys; People don't have to be accountable for their actions and behaviors; that it's okay to steal and rob innocent people of money that they don't deserve to lose, to terrorize, permanently maim, put innocent bank employees and customers' lives and safety at risk, to abet an armed felon and wanted fugitive (Doug MacRay, the ringleader)to escape the law by getting involved romantically with him, allow him to buy expensive Tiffany diamond necklaces for one, and make utter dupes of law enforcement people who've been assigned to bring guys like Doug MacRay to justice and end their robbery careers once and for all, by lying to the Feds, and tipping an armed felon and wanted fugitive (Doug MacRay) off to them and helping them escape, and that it's okay to take the law into one's own hands and to kill a couple of people just because they threatened to do Heaven-knows-what to a girlfriend, or whoever. I think it's totally wrong.

Oh, and why is it okay for good-girl Claire to receive stolen goods and spend that ill-gotten money on the renovation of a seedy hockey rink and dedicate it to her criminal boyfriend's mother who she never knew, instead of arranging to turn it into the police anonymously?

Hey...come on! Doug put the romance moves on Claire when he met her, in order to shut her up and warn her oh, so subtlely not to talk to the Feds or else! One's supposed to think that Doug really loves Claire and is attracted to her by her winsome personality, but nothing could be further from the truth, imo. He found Claire attractive, in that she was clearly vulnerable after being traumatized by him and his guys after they held up her bank at gunpoint, and therefore quite gullible and open to exploitation. Almost as soon as Doug got what he wanted out of Claire (a promise not to go to the cops or the Feds), he left the money in her garden and skipped town for Florida, because he was on the lam from the law and couldn't elope with Claire and exploit her as a bargaining chip, the way he'd wanted to do. Yet, there's another reason why Doug left Claire behind when he skipped town for Florida instead of taking her with him; Doug's days of hiding out down in Florida in a house overlooking a bayou were numbered, that sooner or later he'd be hunted down and caught, perhaps violently, by the Feds, and at some level, both he and Claire must've known that. It was especially obvious when FBI Agt. Frawley said to Claire "You know the FBI is a national organization", and then requested that the descriptions and photos of Doug MacRay be circulated. Isn't it funny how the vast majority of people, either naively or in willful ignorance, miss all of the above!

It's funny how most people don't realize that Doug was a sociopath who totally exploited the women in his life; Krista for sex, and he left her with nothing, even though he knew she had a young child to take care of (who might or might not be Doug's), and Claire, who he thought he could elope to Florida with, but could not, after having charmed her into trusting him and then worming his way into her heart so that she'd shut up and not talk to the Feds. One is supposed to sympathize with both Doug and Claire, but, in reality, neither of them deserved any sympathy.

Imho, when the Feds had Claire and Doug meet at her Charlestown condo in a last-ditch effort to nab Doug MacRay and send him off to a Federal penitentiary for his crimes, the Feds should've made Claire keep her big fat trap shut, not call Doug or answer any of his phone calls, and let them do their job of arresting Doug and bringing him to prison for his crimes. Doug deserved to end up in a federal penitentiary for his crimes, and Claire deserved to be criminally prosecuted herself, or at least put on some sort of probation for abetting Doug and for receiving stolen goods (Doug's illl-gotten heist money).

I'm sorry, folks, but I cannot bring myself to be sympathetic to either Doug or Claire, who, imho, turned out to be the most dislikable, and annoying characters in The Town. I also think the fact that Claire quit her job as a bank manager after the robbery without telling anybody, including the Feds, is also rather suspicious. What most people don't realize is that Doug is an armed felon and wanted fugitive who's on the lam from the law, so he's not going to Florida on vacation. Happily, there's no way that he and Claire will ever meet again, which is what the final "I'll see you again, this side or the other" sentence in Doug's "goodbye, I'll always love you" letter to Claire before he skipped town for Florida means, but the fact that Claire didn't turn to Frawley for help after learning the truth about Doug and reallzing that she was in over her head, is beyond stupid, and wrong.

The fact that Doug and Jem beat the crap out of two Dominicans from a housing project who'd supposedly thrown bottles at Claire when she'd been stupid enough to walk by herself through a housing project (no woman in her right mind would do that, at any time of night or day) and permanently cripple them, especially since they didn't even tell the two Dominicans why they are beating him up, shows that underneath that smooth, sweet-talking, gentle veneer of his, Doug, as well as Jem, is a man of unprovoked violence, and more like his incarcerated father (who, btw, is serving several life sentences in MCI-Cedar Junction for bank robbery and murder) than he would've liked to admit. My, my...Lady Claire must've felt flattered that two armed felons who were also wanted fugitives from the law came to her defense! Pretty sickening, this whole thing.

This is something that still continues to dog me, even though I've written about it so many times.    Why, oh why do so many people fall for such a hyped-up, cheap, overrated, trashy movie such as The Town, and, more to the point, refuse to accept dissenting opinions on it?  It beats me...I don't know!  

I admit to one thing, however:  The Town had me rooting for the cops and the FBI, especially Agt. Adam Frawley and wanting them to catch Doug MacRay and his men  and send them to jail for their crimes, and to have Claire either criminally prosecuted herself for being an accessory to Doug's crimes, for tipping him Doug off with a "sunny days" code, enabling him to elude the law and receiving stolen goods (Doug's ill-gotten (albeit bloodstained and stolen) money, or at least put on some sort of probation for her bullshit.  Sure, I sympathized with Claire at first, because she was the victim of an armed bank robbery, which wasn't her fault, but I completely lost my sympathy for her when she not only got involved, wholesale, in  a romance with Doug, but refused to sever all contacts with him even after she learned through Agt. Frawley who Doug MacRay really was, and what he was up to.

Unlike most people, who are sympathetic with Ben Affleck's character in that film, and with Claire, I am not.
Why should I be sympathetic to either Doug or Claire?  The idea that Doug MacRay wanted to change and redeem himself through Claire is utter bullshit, especially after he engaged in an act of vigilantism by taking the law into his own hands, going back to Charlestown, and gunning down Rusty and Fergie just because they threatened Doug's ladygirl Claire with physical harm.  Come on now! Doug MacRay's still a criminal and he was not the decent guy he came across as when he and Claire met "by chance" in a C-Town laundromat. Doug MacRay, like his friends and partners in crime, are not only skilled, disciplined and ruthless in their quest for quick money through parasitic behaviors such as armed robbery, and who'd unquestionably kill or seriously injure people enough to put them in the hospital if they're considered obstacles to what they want, but Doug knows how to come across as a nice guy, when he's really not.  He may not be crazy like his best friend and righthand man, Jem, but he's a sociopath and a person of unprovoked violence just the same.

The fact that he came across as such a nice, charming guy and deceived Claire by pretending to be an upstanding, law-abiding citizen, when he's really not, is more than disgusting...it's part of his criminal behavior.  As for Claire, the fact that she took Doug's bait and rose to it is pathetic indeed. Had Doug been the decent, caring and sensitive person that most people believe he is at heart, he would've let Claire go, instead of getting embroiled with her and risking putting her in the line of fire. Had Doug really wanted to change, imo, he would've turned himself and his guys in, come forward, negociated with the Feds for some protection for himself, and stopped robbing banks once and for all.   Doug left for Florida without Claire for two reasons:  

A)  Doug macRay was an armed felon and wanted fugitive who'd been on the lam from the law for quite awhile, plus he'd just killed Fergie and Rusty.

B) Doug had gotten what he really wanted out of Claire all along;  a promise from her not to turn him in, which he got.

How can so many people be so naive or willfully stupid as to miss that?
Also, if Doug wanted to redeem himself, he would've come forward, served his time, and 
after a prison term, found honest ways to raise the funding for the renovation for the C-Town hockey rink himself, instead of using Claire Keesey as a go-between.  What people don't realize is that Doug wasn't a nice guy...even to Claire, even though most people firmly believe that he was.   The fact that he deceived her, seduced her and made a total fool out of her was vicious.  The fact that Claire acted like a poor, confused, dumb-assed adolescent and allowed herself to be manipulated, made a fool out of and taken advantage of by Doug is pitiful, but she doesn't deserve pity, due to the fact that she helped the very same guy, who'd turned her life upside down and caused her a ton of grief in the first place, to elude the law.  

As for Jem's drugged-addicted, alcoholic sister, Kristina, well, I don't like her sordid lifestyle or behavior (drug and alcohol addiction, sleeping around with too many men, and the fact that she was in the business herself by helping to book hotel rooms and get costumes for Doug and his men, and being a drug mule for Fergie and Rusty), but I'll say this:  I feel kind of sorry for Krista, in a way, because she had far fewer choices than Claire;  she'd grown up with Doug and Jem, who, like many other men, abused and exploited her for their own ends, and she had neither the money or the resources to get out of that lifestyle and environment.  Krista's daughter, Shyne, still an infant, caught in the middle of all this shit, was innocent, and I felt sorry for her, too.
I'm so sick of people saying that what the white collar criminals (not defending them, btw) are worse than guys like Doug MacRay and his gang, because it's unrelated, and not true.  

Neither the book Prince of Thieves, on which The Town was based, or the movie, make any effort to get at causes of bank robbery and other crimes, and the circumstances  under which Doug and his men had grown up under.  Moreover, the movie asks the audience to sympathize with Doug MacRay and his men, as well as Claire, who acted stupidly enough to allow Doug to take advantage of her, and who became an accessory to his crimes, while considering law enforcement officials assigned to bring criminals like MacRay and company to their knees and have them locked up in penitentiaries once and for all.

Dez was a smart (he was college-educated and had a regular job) but stupid guy;  he was pretty much just along for the ride, and did what he was told to do by the gang, and yet, at the same time, he seemed to be pretty much their victim, as well, if one gets the drift.  Dez allowed himself to be taken for a ride, also.   At least the book fleshes out the characters and spends more time on Dez and Krista, and doesn't focus on the viewpoint of Doug and Jem so much, plus the book takes a far less sympathetic outlook towards Doug and his men.

I also might add that The Town also normalizes the Stockholm Syndrome and its inverse, the Lima Syndrome.  One doesn't have to be in any of the helping professions (i. e. psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, etc.) to realize that, while a person who's taken hostage and falls victim to the Stockholm Syndrome (i. e. falling in love with her captor) or the Lima Syndrome (i. e. accepting the overtures of her captor, who falls in love with her), presumably has a better chance of survival in a hostage situation, the victim, in either case, is turned into a person who is at her captor's beck and call, is manipulated and controlled by him, and is essentially brainwashed into believing that her captor cares enough about her not to kill her, and that he'll always treat her kindly and not abuse her.  This couldn't be farther from the truth, especially because, all too often, the victim is isolated from her friends and loved ones, and begins to blame family and friends, as well as law officials and other authorities for her troubles and turn against them rather than her captor who committed this criminal act against her in the first place.

That being said, I'd say that common sense is required, in order to at least minimize the possibility of having something like that happen to him or her;   Just because one meets a charming guy or gal, doesn't mean that they're necessarily up to any good, particularly if one is in an area that's known to be rough and tough, with a violent history to it.  Anybody who meets someone that they've never seen before, no matter where they are, or how charming they seem, should be much more careful, and not be so quick to accept dates with someone or get into things with people they don't know that well.

Claire was a woman who used no common sense what. so. ever, and she ended up having a breakdown when it finally backfired on her.  Hey...if I'd known her in real life, I'd tell her.."Hey..don't you understand that if you play with fire, you're going to get burned? Think about that!"

Supposed the bank manager hadn't been as angelic-looking as Claire, or had been someone with a learning/developmental disability such as autism, Aspergers, dyslexia, ADD/ADHD, or a seizure disorder?  Do people honestly believe that Doug and his men would've even acted the least bit charming and sympathetic towards her, in real life, or in any case?   I don't think so.  Doug would've allowed Jem to do whatever he wanted with her, and she probably would've been gang-raped or "offed" by Doug and his posse of armed criminals.  Don't kid yourselves, guys! Doug, contrary to how he came across to Claire, wasn't a nice guy, even to her.  He was playing her, and anybody who thinks that Doug and his men wouldn't have killed her if she'd resisted and refused to comply with them is just kidding themselves.  


Sorry, folks, but I can't bring myself to like this film, except for the very beginning, with the aerial and ground shots of Boston's Charlestown section, and the opening bank heist, but The Town went from being okay to being just plain bad…in a matter of minutes.