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WEST SIDE STORY DVD MGM / 1961 / 153 minutes

UnknownIn the interest of full disclosure I have to admit that I am not a fan of musicals. In fact, the term “all singing, all dancing” is usually enough to send me running and screaming. Despite winning ten Academy Awards on its release in 1961, MGM’s West Side Story has never been a favorite of mine, and I haven’t seen it for years. So it was with mild disinterest that I viewed the new slickly packaged 40th anniversary DVD reissue of this retelling of the Romeo and Juliet story. As it turns out I was in for a pleasant surprise. While I still find the larger-than-life Puerto Rican accents grating and have to suppress giggles at the vision of tough gang members dancing in tandem, this new version boasts a wonderfully remixed and re-mastered audio track, a digitally polished Panavision picture and interesting extras, adding up to a beautifully done reissue. The two disc set offers a wide screen presentation of the film, with English, French and Spanish subtitles and spoken language options; a new, comprehensive 56-minute documentary that includes every major West Side Story figure, and a host of shorter features, including alternate trailers, original film intermission music and three photo galleries. As an added bonus MGM has included a thick print scrapbook featuring the entire script, an original lobby brochure and behind the scenes photos. Nice package all in all, and while West Side Story will never make my Top Ten Favorite Movies Of All Time list, this reissue has made me reconsider the work, especially the lyrical beauty of Ernest Lehman’s script and the nice supporting performances of George Chakiris and Rita Moreno. Recommended.

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