West Side Story

Onwards to Monday 9th May, Helen R’s flat in Battersea, and West Side Story.

So, last night saw a triumphant return to our fascist roots, courtesy of our latest dictator, Helen R. She bravely revisited childhood trauma by showing us West Side Story, the hoodlum musical (almost gangsta slapstick, but not quite!) which won Best Picture at the 1961 Oscars, as well as many others as well.

west-side-story-0903-pp03

For those of you unfamiliar with it, the story is based on Romeo & Juliet and set in 1950s New York. The music is amazing, and you probably know at least one song from the score (although I hope no one else has been tortured by I Feel Pretty running through their heads on a loop since leaving Helen’s yuppy-tastic building!). The general consensus seemed to be that ‘Cool’ and ‘America’ were contenders for best song.

The aforementioned trauma stemmed from the fact that it was the first film that a young Helen had seen which didn’t have a happy ending. This seems particularly unusual for a musical, although recent additions to the genre such as Moulin Rouge and Dancer in the Dark have carried on this tradition. I have to say, I’m a jazz hands and happy endings girl myself, although you wouldn’t know it. 

Interesting trivia:

  • The stage version was originally planned as a story about a Catholic boy falling in love with a Jewish girl. The working title was “East Side Story”. After a boom of Puerto Rican immigration to New York in the late 1940s and 1950s, the story was changed, and the show opened on Broadway in 1957 as ‘West Side Story’.
  • As I mentioned last night, Natalie Wood’s singing voice was actually dubbed by another performer (cheating!)
  • One of the director’s wanted Tony to be played by Elvis Presley! However, the consensus amongst those present was that John Travolta would have been the ultimate choice!


More interesting facts and trivia available here.

Until the next time, dear fascists friends: Just play it cool, boy – real cool!

Becca xx

THIS IS NO LONGER A DEMOCRACY

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One thought on “West Side Story

  1. Y’know, it is alarming how charming I feel.

    And we certainly were charmed by the first sing-a-long-a-film club. Who knew that fascists would have such harmony? Thanks for a great and surprising film choice! Certainly blew those Monday blues away, even with tragedy and racism. But it was musical racism, so that’s kinda cool. Much like the classic http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCH1IlOfDTM, but not like the strangely disallowed http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zj6o_DZfSw&feature=related. It’s a strange world we live in.

    Great Tuesday review also! You’re making learning fun g’dammit!

    In a bid to continue the post match discussion I offer the following links:
    “Somewhere” as covered by the awesome Tom Waits on his Asylum Years album: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_brLP-PSCNk
    Bernstein “Symphonic Dances from West Side Story” (part 1/3; parts 2/3 and 3/3 via YouTube side bar): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Kdwmeu8FNU

    Now, I’m off to go fight some Puerto Ricans. Don’t worry about me folks, my crazy dance moves will sort ’em out. Rumble!

    Jon xx

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