Sunday, September 25, 2011

WEST SIDE STORY (Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, 1961)

Musical theatre and gang warfare. It's an uneasy mix. For the Sharks and the Jets, fists and guns just won't do. They settle their scores the only real way: through dance.

Yes, it's an easy target today, but once upon a time this mix of self-conscious cool and sledgehammer topicality won accolades and Academy Awards.

Admittedly the better numbers - America, the gym dance, bits of Cool - have lost none of their electric charge. In order to get to them, it's almost worth furrowing through all the posturing, the caricatures, the soggy vacant leads, the James-Cameron-hits-da-streets dialogue, the endless moralising and general endlessness (two and a half hours!).

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