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I've Been Reading

Robert Wise on his films : from editing room to director's chair by Sergio Leemann and there's a chapter on each film, including West Side Story. Let me quote an excerpt : ...

title or description
Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise filming in New York, August 1960
Photo from Life Magazine

Putting a stage musical on the screen represents challenges. When you're in the live theater, you have the proscenium arch up there, you're once-removed from reality. The screen is a very real medium and doesn't take kindly to stylization. One of the things we struggled with the most in West Side Story was how to take all the highly stylized aspects of it and deal with them effectively in the reality of the screen. On the stage, you can have characters break out of a dialogue scene, and go right into song and dance and you don't feel a twinge of embarrassment, but you can feel that on screen. On the stage, the turf that the kids fight over were stylized sets. There was no way I could realistically open the film without opening it in the real New York streets...I had a hard sell with the Mirisch Company, but we were allowed to do it in the New York locations. Jerry said to me, "I agree with you completely about the need to open it in New York, but you gave me the biggest challenge to take my most stylized dancing and put it against the most real background that we have in the whole picture".


Jun. 28th, 2009 11:45 am (UTC)
Im really glad they changed those numbers too. Sondheim said in West Side Memories that he also pushed for those two to be switched.

I love both Sound of Music and West Side Story...but I don't know. WSS just has that extra something
Jun. 28th, 2009 12:09 pm (UTC)
WSS just has that extra something

Better music, better dance numbers, more relevant plot...
Jun. 28th, 2009 12:27 pm (UTC)
oh yeah...that's it
Mar. 16th, 2014 04:23 pm (UTC)
Absolutely spot-on, petzi and sar bear4ben!
West Side Story is much more powerful, which is that extra "something", imho.

I wonder if that's why it's not as universally popular as "Sound of Music".
Mar. 16th, 2014 06:00 pm (UTC)
Re: Absolutely spot-on, petzi and sar bear4ben!
There's no happy ending and for some people that means it will never be popular. At least IMO.
Mar. 16th, 2014 10:45 pm (UTC)
That's right, petzi.
Some people can't stand stories/musicals, movies, etc., without happy endings. Many people like to feel that they've got something to hold onto that'll make them feel more optomistic. But, then again, as we've observed, West Side Story has its big fans, as well!


wss crazy cool by dallowayward
West Side Story

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