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West Side Story (Special Edition Collector's Set)
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This brilliant (The New Republic) film sets the ageless story of Romeo and Juliet against a backdrop of gang warfare in 1950s New York. Directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins and scripted by Ernest Lehman, the film combines Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim's unforgettable score ( Maria, America, 'somewhere, 'tonight ) with Robbins own exuberant choreography to achieve an exhilarating work of art (Saturday Review). A love affair is fated for tragedy amidst the vicious rivalry of two street gangsthe Jets and the Sharks. When Jets member Tony (RichardBeymer) falls for Maria (Natalie Wood), the sister of the Sharks leader, it's more than these two warring gangs can handle. And as mounting tensions rise, a battle to the death ensues, and innocent blood is shed in a heartbreaking finale.
West Side Story, considered by many the greatest movie musical ever, is beautifully packaged in its collector's edition set. The film itself has a new transfer and 5.1 sound mix (though the picture and 5.1 sound of the original DVD release were also excellent), and adds 90 seconds of intermission music, which is an instrumental version of "I Feel Pretty" before the film resumes with that song. The opening menu allows viewers to select whether they want to hear the intermission music (it's not separately tracked). The second disc offers numerous features, such as storyboards, international advertising, and, of chief interest, a 56-minute 2003 documentary that interviews key contributors such as director-coproducer Robert Wise, playwright Arthur Laurents, and lyricist Stephen Sondheim (who says that even when the show was on stage he wanted "Gee, Officer Krupke" and "Cool" switched to the order they appear in the film). Most interesting are the discussions about the extensive dubbing. It's common knowledge that Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer were dubbed (you can hear her original "I Feel Pretty," which is adequate, and her part in the "Tonight" quintet, which is not), but Russ Tamblyn says that associate producer Saul Chaplin insisted on dubbing everyone, and Rita Moreno expresses her dissatisfaction with the character of her dubbed voice. The package is rounded out by a lovely and thick (if somewhat small-sized) booklet that reproduces the original screenplay and lobby brochure, supplemented by a new letter from screenwriter Ernest Lehman and other goodies. --David Horiuchi
Top Customer Reviews
The one hour documentary featuring interviews with some of the cast, Robert Wise, Harold Prince, Sondheim, and some key crew members is completely engrossing. Home movie footage showing the filming of the movie is included. Examples of the techniques that the movie makers used to film a musical are fascinating. I was amazed that the knife scene, for example, is COMPLETELY counted out and the actor/dancers' movements were choreographed down to the second (breath, two, three, four; stab, two three; look, two, three, four). Incredible! Rita Morena is particularly informative regarding the dubbing of her song "A Boy Like That". The Robbins/Wise codirecting of the film is explained. And some of Natalie Wood's original vocals are included. The documentary is invaluable for fans of the film.
As for the film itself, it looks and sounds incredible on my widescreen HDTV. The anamorphic transfer is very good.
The DVD is packaged very well. The book which accompanies the set is very cool, with a great introduction by screenwriter Ernest Lehman (who is one of my movie heros).
I'm very impressed with this special edition of WEST SIDE STORY. The film is a classic, and deserves such treatment.
Little known writer in Elizabethian England pens a drama about two star-crossed lovers. Flash ahead to the turbulent streets of New York in the late 1950s and early 60s. Turn feuding families to rival gangs. Add music, choreography, make it vital. Then find a brilliant director who knows what to show, and watch as it takes home every Oscar it can.
We know the story of this film but what's important for you to know about here are the extras you get in this package that make it worth your while: The first disc is the film, preserved perfectly. And the second disc has your special features.
First, you get a great documentary on the making of the film. Titled "West Side Memories," Principals like Sondheim, Moreno, Chakiris, Beymer and more sit before the cameras and explain the process of preparing and executing what could be the finest example of the Hollywood Musical, ever. It's a piece that's could have been a stand alone DVD, it's so rich with insights.
You also get an interesting "Storyboard to Film" montage, where you see the artist's renderings of the scenes, and how those shots looked when they appeared in the film. You get to study these storyboards more carefully in several galleries on the disc. Lots of other goodies, like the theatrical trailers and photos galore... everything from Jerome Robbins's cattle call for dancers to location shots during production!Read more ›
PLOT: In a nut shell, this is Romeo and Juliet in the ghetto. Natilie Wood (dubbed by Marni Nixon) is Maria; poor, Puertorican and in love with Richard Beymer (Tony). But her brother, Bernardo (George Chakaris) and his girlfriend, Anita (Rita Moreno) don't approve. If you know your Shakespeare, you know how this one ends. The difference here are the songs, so electric and outstanding that they easily steal the show. Try listening to "America" or "I Feel Pretty" without tapping your toes or "One Hand, One Heart" without getting goose-bumps. It's impossible.
MGM gives us some nice packaging and some extras but let's state the obvious first: this transfer is identical to the one previously issued on DVD. Having said that, the transfer is quite good, with a rich bold color scheme and fair solid blacks. But there are cases where edge enhancement is present and quite obtrusive. There's also a lot of pixelization in the backgrounds.
Certain scenes appear slightly out of focus, while others are so sharp that even with your televsion sharpness turned to zero, the image is rather hard to look at on the screen.
The soundtrack is very strident. Songs are presented at an explosive listening level that really rocks the house. But other bits of dialogue are soft or muffled. Some of the songs have a grating high pitch to them that really strains the ear.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Perfect choreography. Classic songs....from your first cigarette to your last dying day.Published 5 days ago by Nikolai Sharkov
This movie and soundtrack are still quite active throughout all the decades since it first came out.Published 8 days ago by Anna Marie Kuhns-Walko
If you have not watched, listened to this masterpiece of our American composer Leonard Bernstein, it is one that you should not miss.Published 10 days ago by Wabi Sabi
The movie is as expected and seen before. I bought it for a sing-along party and it worked perfectly. Read morePublished 18 days ago by Bea
Timeless and classic. ENJOYED as a kid and wanted to share w/my students.Published 20 days ago by STACY
Still one of the best musicals ever. After studying opera, this is one, but it modern and relevant today
over 50 years later. What a pleasure to watch.
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