Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


I like the island Manhattan!

Filed under : Movies,New York City
On May 9, 2007
At 2:00 am
Comments : 11

(I know you do!)

So, what’s the greatest movie about New York? If you recognized the title of this post, you already know where I’m going with this. Why, it’s West Side Story, of course. Thanks for asking, rhetorical question-asker! Recently, I figured out how to download TV shows from my DVR onto my computer and thus I am now equipped to illustrate and prove my answer. With clips! And more clips! What does this mean for you, besides slow-loading pages and feed reader people having to click over? Clips! And more clips!

And now, onto the clips. If the very intro to this movie doesn’t make you suck in your breath and call out landmarks, well, you’ve just never been here. Where are the twin towers? They weren’t built yet. And the neighborhood we pan down to? It’s all gone, razed to construct Lincoln Center. These folks could never afford to live there now.

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Naturally, the entire film is completely dated, and not just because the hoodlums tuck their shirts into their pants. One of the best scenes in the film is at a community dance, where the two gangs go to meet up with each other and plan a rumble. Things look about to get ugly when Gomez Addams gee-whizes them into trying to get together in a friendlier way. Observe the results.

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Mambo! Check out the thematic wear; the Jets wear blues and oranges, the Sharks wear purples and reds. Because Latinos are spicy! By the way, there were no black people in New York in the 1960’s.

Later, on the rooftop, the Sharks and their womenfolk engage in the best snappy answer song ever. Would that J-Ball could be this clever. Not to mention a statement about racism and the immigrant experience framed as a lavish dance number.

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Of course WSS is also about love, death, revenge, family, friendship, loyalty and just to make it all the more fun, the whole thing is a modern-day retelling of Romeo and Juliet. Only dancier and with corny faux Puerto Rican accents. And most of all, it’s about the Upper West Side before gentrification came along and jazzed it up, so to speak. You know, a place where gangs meet up with their girls on the rooftops after the rumble and the gangleader tells his troops regarding their patch of UWS, “I say this turf is small, but it’s all we got, huh?” And Romeo and Juliet do their balcony scene on a fire escape. ::sigh::

Now go, queue it up on Netflix!


11 Comments for this post

  1. Sarpon says:

    George Chakiris. My, my, my.

    I will now add to my mixed feeling about this movie the fact that it preserves images of a pre-gentrified Upper West Side. I hadn’t considered that before.

  2. Ben K. says:

    I will now add to my mixed feeling about this movie the fact that it preserves images of a pre-gentrified Upper West Side. I hadn’t considered that before.

    Forget pre-gentrified. It preserves the images of a pre-Robert Moses Upper West Side. West Side Story takes place on the site of what is now Lincoln Center and the Fordham Campus and the housing developments in the West 60s. Or at least, the stylized Hollywood set is supposed to represent that area of Manhattan.

  3. RN says:

    Your new tag line for comments has me lowelling.

  4. Alex says:

    Wow, Rita Moreno was a lot younger in 1961, wasn’t she?

    Plus, those nice gang-member boys all danced so well, and their girlfriends sang just like Marni Nixon.

  5. Becca says:

    What, it was a set? I’m shocked, shocked.

    RN, lady, where you been? I changed it in January! I even posted that I changed it. Oh, the humanity.

    We were all a lot younger in 1961. Particularly me because I wasn’t born yet.

  6. Did anyone ever see that SNL skit where Norm Macdonald was the leader of a gang and when he told them to fight they all started dancing. Then he looks at them and said “What the hell was that? You guys were dancing?”

  7. NoShowMo says:

    No Netflix needed, it was on PBS here last Saturday night! Because of course I was watching TV.

    Is it just me, or does the actor who plays Tony look like he could be part of either gang?

  8. Becca says:

    I didn’t, Mid, but I do love Norm Macdonald. Am I the only one? Don’t answer that!

    Nosh, that’s where I got it from! You can see the Channel Thirteen logo on the bottom right. Actually, none of the Puerto Ricans look hispanic at all. So Tony would fit in just fine.

  9. KP says:

    Of course now you know someone will get here via googling Gomez Addams.

    I like WSS. I have even seen it live on stage.
    Mr. KP fell asleep during it, so I shouldn’t have to elaborate on his feelings towards it.

  10. You are NOT the only one who loves Norm Macdonald.

    I’m all about the upbuilding.

  11. RN says:

    I’ve been here but I must have slept since then.

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