West Side Story

It’s easy to mock West Side Story, and incredibly hard not to let out a start of incredulity, disbelief and hilarity when the Jets, a New York street gang, begin clicking, walking and turning in sync, but this 60s retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet has a lot going for it. Yes, the two leads – Jet old hand Tony (Richard Beymer) and rival Shark’s head honcho’s sister Maria (Natalie Wood, not even close to being Puerto Rican) are lifeless, charisma free and unforgivably dubbed for their singing. And yes, the dialogue has not aged well in places, but the toe-tapping tunes, particularly I Feel Pretty, America and Gee, Officer Krupke and outstanding choreography, with dances staged as fights and fights staged as dances more than make up for its faults. Supporting players perform admirably, notably Russ Tamblyn as Jets leader Riff and George Chakiris as Shark leader Bernardo, making this a musical for people who don’t like musicals – people like me then.
Choose film 7/10
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