Friday, November 11, 2011

50th Anniversary of "West Side Story"

When I heard that TCM was hosting the nationwide 50th Anniversary viewing of "West Side Story", I became super giddy and I knew I must join in the fun! Thankfully my husband also enjoys classic film so he agreed to coming along with me-I must say its always nice to get out a little especially on a date!

I knew instinctively that the theatre will be packed and what did we find--a packed house! We managed to find good seating and I was impressed the the kinds of people that showed up to watch it on the big screen. There were people my father's age who must have seen it when they were ten or twelve, there were Latinos, young people, and some people even brought their children.

The first twenty minutes included Robert Osbourne who is the host of TCM interviewing one of the original producers, George Chakiris who played Bernardo, and Marnie Nixon who was the voice behind Natalie Wood.

It was a great interview and cool to see something that would normally be seen on television, seen on the big screen. One cool clip they shared was one where Natalie was actually singing in the film-its a hard clip to find but here is a snippet of her singing voice:

Her voice is sweet but not up to Broadway and
 theatre standards-Marni Nixon's voice more theatrical.

Watching the film was surreal--to see it on such a large screen. It's something that I want to more often, view classic films as they were originally shown--on screen. 

Trailer for "West Side Story"

I had many emotions and thoughts running through me. On the emotion front, I felt proud of being a New Yorker as the play and film are both set in New York. Nothing beats this city! I had mixed emotions on how Puerto Ricans were viewed in the film. I don't have an attached to the island but my mother was born there and my paternal grandfather, so I have a huge family legacy that is n fact Puerto Rican. It felt weird to see how the white Americans viewed them but there is always a group of people that others don't like for whatever reason. And let's face it, if you're an American you or your family were originally immigrants. So to me bashing another culture of people doesn't make sense yet I can understand how emotions can run high especially when money is concerned.

I thought to myself, wow it was really like that back in 1961? My father told me stories...there were always gangs or ethnic groups in his neighborhood in upper Manhattan. There were the Irish, the Italians, the African-Americans, the Cubans, and of course the Puerto Ricans. My father, like me, socialize with all the groups much to his parents dismay-you go daddy!

"America" sung by the Sharks and their girlfriends

It was so cool when everyone applauded after the part of the film where Anita and Bernardo sing "America". One woman in the audience said, "They don't make them like that anymore". How right she is. There is a reason why some films are unforgettable and resonate through the years. In this case fifty years!!

By the end of the film, I learned something that I didn't understand before. I often wondered if people could fall madly in love, I mean true, mature love, within hours of meeting. For the first time it hit me like a pie in the parents! duh??! Why didn't I connect that before?

When my father met my mother in 1971, they were both at a party and as my father tells it, the moment he laid eyes on her told himself, "Oh my God, she's the one! I am going to marry her!". And he did. Their marriage wasn't perfect but they were committed and with her last breath, my father was there to see her unto her next phase of existence. My father has never been the same, who would be?
So is instant true love possible---YES, YES, YES! I am living proof of it!

"West Side Story" is a masterpiece. It speaks of things that are still prevalent today and it speaks of love. It was a lovely evening  out with my husband and I am very grateful that I was able to share this experience with him.


PS If you were ever curious (like me) to know more about the cast from the film check this site out. And if you want to see some of the perform on stage (in their advanced age with Chita Rivera), check this site out! Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. I'm just now reading this post for the first time and I LOVE IT!!! i wanted to go see this in the theaters, but none of the theaters around where i lived were playing it. West Side Story has been one of my favorite musicals since i was little!! My dad made the mistake of buying it for himself. i say made a mistake because he never got it back after i watched it!!

    Thank you for posting this, i really enjoy your blog!!!


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