WEST SIDE STORY Celebrates its 50th Anniversary
by Phil Boatwright

Wow, that’s old! If that’s your mindset, let me try to change it with my take on one of the finest movies of all time (arguably, the best musical of all time). Now I grant you, the premise: Romeo & Juliet set to music and dance, amid 1950s New York city gangs, may lift an eyebrow or two, but director Robert Wise, aided by the music Leonard Bernstein (our Mozart), lyrics by Stephen Stephen Sondheim (Send in the Clowns), choreographer Jerome Robbins, and the exquisiteness of its star Natalie Wood make this one of the finest film experiences you’ll ever have. And to see it on the big screen – trust me, that’s the best way.

In celebration of its 50th anniversary, NCM Fathom and Turner Classic Movies are bringing West Side Story back to movie theaters nationwide for on Wednesday, November 9th at 7:00 pm local time. This in-cinema event will open with an exciting new TCM original production featuring a discussion with Walter Mirisch of The Mirisch Company, which produced the classic; Oscar®-winning actor George Chakiris; and Natalie Woods’ voice double, Marni Nixon. TCM Host Robert Osborne moderates the discussion, which was taped at the 2011 TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood.

The tale of young, star-crossed lovers became a parable of the modern world, where Maria (Natalie Wood) and Tony (Richard Beymer) were doomed not only by their passion but also by larger social forces. It transcended these apparent contradictions and made a classic tale timely by overlaying the love story with an exploration of mid-century racial tensions, transforming the Montagues and Capulets into the all-white Jets gang and the Puerto Rican Sharks. Music and story blended powerfully, as the sounds of the streets became the percussive muscle of a heavy-hitting score that blended jazz, pop and Latin rhythms. This monumental production, conceived and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, features the timeless lyrics of master American songwriter Stephen Sondheim, a magnificent score by Leonard Bernstein and a heartfelt book by playwright Arthur Laurents.

Check your movie listings the week before in order to find a theater near you presenting the musical classic. And if you can’t make the screening (oh, make the screening), on November 15, audiences at home can experience MGM’s WEST SIDE STORY: 50th ANNIVERSARY EDITION, when it debuts with a Limited Edition 4-Disc Numbered Boxed Set featuring Blu-ray, DVD, Tribute CD and collectible memorabilia, as well as a 2-disc Collector’s Edition Blu-ray from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.