Reason why I like this movie is foremost because it forms a sort of transition between the old fashioned musical of the '30's and 40's mostly and the more modern ones, that we also still know and see these days. This movie is from a time that the genre wasn't that popular anymore and not a whole lot of musical movies got made during the '50's and '60's. After the acclaimed success of this movie there was a small revival again and this movie pretty much set the standard for the more 'modern' movie musical.

This is a real musical alright. The movie doesn't ever pretend to be a 'real' movie, which means that the movie is going for a totally theatrical approach instead of realistic cinematic one. The entire movie basically consists out of singing and dancing, so also the acting is something totally different from what you would normally see in a normal movie, that is still trying to be somewhat more straight-forward and serious with its story and drama. Also the entire movie obviously looks like it got shot on a large stage, as opposed to outside in a real city. It's all done very deliberately and I must say I liked this approach to the genre.

This was the first musical movie Robert Wise directed and only 4 years later he made his second musical movie, "The Sound of Music", which perhaps is even better known than this movie already is. Thing I'm always amazed by with Robert Wise movies is that he often picks a genre and then does something totally new and original with it. He did this with science-fiction and horror for instance and with musicals with this movie. He was still being helped though this time by choreographer Jerome Robbins, who co-directed. It earned them both the Oscar for best director and the movie itself won 9 more Oscars, including best picture.

And this really is one fine directed movie. Not just with its choreography and all but also really visually. It has a great style over it and the movie is picking some really fine artistic approaches, visually, at times. It's visually less impressive though how the Puerto Rican look like people who had fallen asleep while trying to get a tan. No, the make-up just isn't very good or convincing looking. Even the fake accent often convince more than it.

The story that it follows is basically like a modern update of the Romeo and Juliet story by William Shakespeare, though mostly only just with its main concept. The movie still uses plenty of story of its own and comes up with plenty of stuff to still consider the story good and original on its own. But because the movie is not being realistic in any way, the drama of the story also falls sort of short in my opinion, as does the overall message behind it.

The movie also features some real classic songs, that I'm sure you've heard before. Not all songs are great but for a movie that features so many songs, that is also virtually impossible. Most of the actors are obviously at home within the genre and know how to sing and dance. The two main leads though are being played by film actors Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer, who's singing also got dubbed.

A first great step into the direction of 'modern' movie musicals.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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