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This time it’s true: See 1961’s ‘West Side Story’

Dan Webster

Above: Rita Moreno won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for the 1961 version of "West Side Story." (Photo/United Artists

OK, let’s get this right: The 1961 film adaptation of the 1957 stage musical “West Side Story” will screen on Sunday and the following Wednesday.

I stress this because I previously had reported wrongly on the dates. But, yes, the film will indeed screen at both Regal Northtown Mall and Coeur d’Alene’s Riverstone Stadium at 3 and 7 p.m. on Sunday, 7 p.m. only on Wednesday.

The film, which is being presented in advance of Steven Spielberg’s remake due to open on Dec. 10, was co-directed by Robert Wise and choreographer Jerome Robbins, with music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

The film stars Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Rita Moreno and George Chakiris, the latter two of whom won two of the film’s 10 Academy Awards. Others included Best Picture, Best Director and Best Cinematography.

I saw the film shortly after its premiere and, not for the first time and not the last, I sat in my seat and cried when a movie was over.

Most critics seem to agree.

Bosley Crother of the New York Times wrote, “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.”

Bob Thomas of the Associated press wrote, “For the superlative-minded, ‘West Side Story’ is the most expensive musical film ever made. It's also one of the best.”

Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian wrote, “Leonard Bernstein's rich, eloquent and demanding score is still a powerful experience”

See it again, after 60 years, is sure to be the best way to prepare for the new version.

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