Critic Reviews



Based on 17 critic reviews provided by
West Side Story remains a landmark of musical history. But if the drama had been as edgy as the choreography, if the lead performances had matched Moreno's fierce concentration, if the gangs had been more dangerous and less like bad-boy Archies and Jugheads, if the ending had delivered on the pathos and tragedy of the original, there's no telling what might have resulted.
West Side Story is a beautifully-mounted, impressive, emotion-ridden and violent musical which, in its stark approach to a raging social problem and realism of unfoldment, may set a pattern for future musical presentations. Screen takes on a new dimension in this powerful and sometimes fascinating translation of the Broadway musical to the greater scope of motion pictures.
What they have done with West Side Story in knocking it down and moving it from stage to screen is to reconstruct its fine material into nothing short of a cinema masterpiece...In every respect, the recreation of the Arthur Laurents-Leonard Bernstein musical in the dynamic forms of motion pictures is superbly and appropriately achieved.
West Side Story is a magnificent show, a milestone in movie musicals, a box-office smash. It is so good that superlatives are superfluous. Let it be noted that the film musical, the one dramatic form that is purely American and purely Hollywood, has never been done better
The Telegraph
Jerome Robbins’s legendary choreography needs the biggest screen it can get; when the movie’s firing on all cylinders of music, lyrics and motion (twice: “America” and “Gee, Officer Krupke”) there’s little to touch it.
This really is the musical for people who don’t like musicals.
I daresay most spectators will also find the pull of this film irresistible. The — hardest — problem faced by its adapters must have been one of intangibles — how to make an essentially ballet-opera form believable as realistic cinema — and they have all but licked it. West Side Story never quite shakes off an aura of pretentiousness but its portentousness is stronger and that is all to the good.
The film adaptation of Robert E. Griffith’s and Harold S. Prince’s stage production of “West Side Story” retains all the vibrant qualities of the original work while added brilliance and originality have been brought to the screen presentation.
Represents a brave and effective fusion of serious and fantasy elements, and offers two and one-half hours of solid entertainment. Admittedly, there are times when West Side Story strikes a campy or discordant note, but those instances are overbalanced by the more frequent moments when it offers its own brand of cinematic magic.
There is one especially lovely moment. At their first meeting, lovestruck Tony asks Maria if her kindness to him is just a joke. She replies: "I have not yet learned to joke that way. Now I never will." This is a real big-screen event.

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