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Tricia's retro film review: West Side Story

West Side Story (Robert Wise/Jerome Robbins, 1961)


West Side Story is the 1961 musical based on the Broadway play. The Jets and the Sharks are two rival gangs who fight each other in New York. One of the members, Tony, goes to a dance and falls in love with Maria. There’s a catch: Maria is the sister of the leader of the Sharks, Bernardo. The gangs decide to fight, Tony tries to stop the fight but is unable to save his friend, Riff. He kills Bernardo in a rage and decides to go to the police. What will happen to him and Maria?

This is a really good, creative interpretation of Romeo and Juliet that ranks right up there with other creative revisionings of Shakespeare’s plays, such as Throne of Blood. The music is really good and has some great satire, especially “Officer Krupke” and “America.” Interestingly, the Juliet character, Maria decides not to take her life, which makes her a little bit more mature than Juliet. The love story is ambiguous enough that they might have been happy if they married. Honolulu musical fans should watch this movie.

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