West Side Story – Spielberg remake

Spielberg usually gets what he wants 3 Stars

http://deadline.com/2018/01/steven-spielberg-indiana-jones-west-side-story-directing-vehicles-1202262857/

Spielberg usually gets what he wants, but I cannot understand the value of remaking this film when the original is as close to perfect as it gets. If he wants to make a musical, I’m all for that but I wish he would use his considerable clout and talent to film one that hasn’t been made into a movie before.

I mean, if someone is going to make a West Side Story remake, at least Spielberg is too good to dismiss. But it still seems like a missed opportunity for him to do something genuinely new.

Thoughts?

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Kevin Collins

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85 Comments

  1. I agree that this is a remake that does NOT need to be done. Actually, IMO, almost ALL of the remakes that have been done in the past ten or so years should never have seen the light of day. I'm really tired of the retreading of old material.

  2. When it was recently (semi-recently) revived on Broadway, Lin-Manuel Miranda was brought in to rewrite the lyrics to many of the songs in Spanish. If Spielberg is doing a new adaptation, having the Spanish-speaking characters actually singing in Spanish could be a reason to justify its existence.

    But I'd be perfectly content to allow the original film to stand alone as is.

  3. Jake Lipson

    I mean, if someone is going to make a West Side Story remake, at least Spielberg is too good to dismiss. But it still seems like a missed opportunity for him to do something genuinely new.

    Thoughts?

    If Spielberg is interested, I'd assume he has some good and different take on the material. Remake or not, I'm not particularly into musicals so while I'll see it based solely on Spielberg, I'm not counting the days or anything.

  4. Tino

    this is just a rumor

    I don't think Deadline, which is a highly respected industry trade, really traffics in rumors. If they're reporting it, there has to be some weight behind it. That being said, it may or may not actually come together. But I believe that he wants to do it. And like I said, Spielberg usually gets what he wants.

  5. I think it's a foolhardy notion whether they do it in period, update it for present day, or let the Sharks speak and sing in Spanish.

    If you want to remake a classic film musical, remake one that wasn't done very well the first time around: Porgy and Bess or Camelot or do the musical version of Irma La Douce or Fanny.

  6. Jake Lipson

    I don't think Deadline, which is a highly respected industry trade, really traffics in rumors. If they're reporting it, there has to be some weight behind it. That being said, it may or may not actually come together. But I believe that he wants to do it. And like I said, Spielberg usually gets what he wants.

    From the article you linked:

    “I’m hearing that one might be his dream project, a new version of West Side Story. Spielberg’s camp had no comment on his plans.”

    That sounds like a rumor to me.

  7. Matt Hough

    If you want to remake a classic film musical, remake one that wasn't done very well the first time around

    I think that's a great rule of thumb for all remakes, musical or not. If the original film was great, leave it alone. If the original film had a great idea that was done badly, take another shot at it.

  8. Matt Hough

    I think it's a foolhardy notion whether they do it in period, update it for present day, or let the Sharks speak and sing in Spanish.

    If you want to remake a classic film musical, remake one that wasn't done very well the first time around: Porgy and Bess or Camelot or do the musical version of Irma La Douce or Fanny.

    You forgot there's this lost alien from another planet who doesn't like to be in America … 😉

  9. Josh Steinberg

    When it was recently (semi-recently) revived on Broadway, Lin-Manuel Miranda was brought in to rewrite the lyrics to many of the songs in Spanish. If Spielberg is doing a new adaptation, having the Spanish-speaking characters actually singing in Spanish could be a reason to justify its existence.

    I agree, this is one of the few classics with interesting avenues of exploration for a remake. Using the bilingual 2009 libretto is the most obvious one, but also using a cast of Puerto Rican actors and actresses for the Sharks. There's also room to make both gangs feel more dangerous than they did in the original movie, and to better meld the stuff shot on location with the stuff shot on sound stages.

    There are certain things that any remake will fall short on: You're never going to top Jerome Robbins's choreography, for instance. But I think there's room for another different adaptation that doesn't supplant the Wise classic but exists alongside it.

  10. usrunnr

    With Amazon practically giving away WSS blu the last few years, I was hoping someone was doing a restoration to correct the mistakes on the current version.

    Unfortunately, MGM already did issue one fix to that, which still didn't quite correct the problem. The appear to be satisfied with this master and made it available as a DCP to repertory theater. I suspect it's unlikely that they'll fix something that they believe is fine.

  11. Matt Hough

    I think it's a foolhardy notion whether they do it in period, update it for present day, or let the Sharks speak and sing in Spanish.

    If you want to remake a classic film musical, remake one that wasn't done very well the first time around: Porgy and Bess or Camelot or do the musical version of Irma La Douce or Fanny.

    Yes, Camelot deserves a remake. Use actors who can sing this time.

    atcolomb

    I think Spielberg should do a remake of South Pacific and have Jaws do a cameo in the film. 😉

    His name is Bruce.

  12. The other thing about this that feels icky to me is that out of all the major creatives who shaped West Side Story — Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents, Stephen Sondheim, and Jerome Robbins — only Sondheim is still living.

    They *can* do a remake — it's possible to get the rights — but doing any major revisions, such as updating it to modern times, when the original creative people are not here to be part of that conversation, doesn't really feel like a good idea. A stage production would be required to retain the original script and score, but a new film would not have the same stipulation.

    And if you're not going to change it, then why do another film at all?

  13. Jake Lipson

    The other thing about this that feels icky to me is that out of all the major creatives who shaped West Side Story — Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents, Stephen Sondheim, and Jerome Robbins — only Sondheim is still living.

    They *can* do a remake — it's possible to get the rights — but doing any major revisions, such as updating it to modern times, when the original creative people are not here to be part of that conversation, doesn't really feel like a good idea.

    It's worth noting that Arthur Laurents was the driving force behind the bilingual book and other revisions for the 2009 revival. He directed it. He and Sondheim brought Lin-Manuel Miranda in to do the translations.

  14. Adam Lenhardt

    It's worth noting that Arthur Laurents was the driving force behind the bilingual book and other revisions for the 2009 revival.

    Absolutely. I'm sure he would be fine with the idea of more Spanish being used, but he's still not around to give his guidance to a new film.

    For a musical being adapted from the work of a living person, they would be heavily involved in the process of that film. Even if they somehow obtained the rights, no one would consider making a Hamilton film without Lin-Manuel Miranda being directly involved. So why should a Wet Side Story film be any different, especially when it was already done brilliantly when all of its creators were around?

  15. atcolomb

    I think Spielberg should do a remake of South Pacific and have Jaws do a cameo in the film. 😉

    SOUTH PACIFIC has already been remade and filmed in Australia. Made for TV it was the worst ever musical remake in history.

  16. If this rumor ever becomes more than just that, I would be very interested in Spielberg’s take on it. He has wanted to make a musical since 1941 and flirted a bit with it with the opening of Temple Of Doom.

    Plus because….ya know…he’s Spielberg. 😉

  17. Bad idea – period. As already suggested elsewhere in these posts – if you must 'remake' a movie, choose from a roster of 'good ideas' executed poorly in the hopes to improve upon their nuggets of wisdom. Occasionally, you can do a remake as an update: herein, the remakes of Father of the Bride and Narrow Margin immediately come to mind, as does A Perfect Murder (the remake of Dial M for Murder).

    But honestly, why remake West Side Story? Personally, I think Spielberg ought to pour his clout and money into a push to get the original reissued on Blu-ray and 4K in a 'perfect' presentation and forget about 'improving' on a movie that already won the Oscar for Best Picture! Dumb. Really dumb…and pointless – utterly, tragically pointless.

  18. Remakes made sense in the old studio days when the original was locked away in the vault after showing for a month. Today, with home video, if I want to see any of these again, I just take one off the shelf. What is the incentive to go to the movie theatre?

  19. atcolomb

    I think Spielberg should do a remake of South Pacific and have Jaws do a cameo in the film. 😉

    Actually, Jaws should be the star and all those awful characters should be shark bait.

    And the shark gets to sing all the songs:

    "Some enchanted evening, you will bite a stranger…"
    "There is nothing like a dame…(chomp, chomp)"
    "I'm gonna wash that man right out of my teeth…"

    😛

  20. As an aside here, is there any reason why I suddenly am not getting any e-mail alerts at all?
    Have I accidently changed settings or something? I just added to the above thread, there was a reply and no e-mail.

  21. Nick*Z

    As already suggested elsewhere in these posts – if you must 'remake' a movie, choose from a roster of 'good ideas' executed poorly in the hopes to improve upon their nuggets of wisdom.

    Tino

    He has wanted to make a musical since 1941 and flirted a bit with it with the opening of Temple Of Doom.

    Spielberg can make basically anything he wants. Given that power, if he wants to make a musical, I would be fully supportive of that — but why not make one that has never had a film before?

    Off the top of my head, Miss Saigon is another epic culturally-relevant love story that has been languishing in development hell for a long time. Last I heard a couple years ago, Danny Boyle was having conversations about doing that, but nothing has happened yet. If Spielberg took to it, he could take it straight out of development hell and into theaters by the end of the decade.

    Not that I want to pick for him, but, you know, there are plenty of other musicals like that struggling to get made. Do one of those, man. Don't touch the ones that are already done and perfect.

  22. Jake Lipson

    Don't touch the ones that are already done and perfect.

    I've been thinking a lot about this over the past day or so, and I'm really of two minds on West Side Story in particular. On a technical level, I do believe it's perfect – the direction, choreography, book, songs, score and performances are all top notch, and I'm not sure any could be bested. But, on the other hand, in a story where the main theme is two people from two different backgrounds and cultures being able to come together and transcend racism and bigotry and hate, in a modern context it is somewhat odd to see that pairing actually be two white people, one playing a white person and one wearing makeup to portray someone of Puerto Rican descent. In 2018, they'd never make that casting choice to begin with. Now, I completely understand that things were different when the original film was made, and that in casting Natalie Wood, they picked one of the biggest movie stars of the time for the role, and it's hard to argue against that. I don't really mean to criticize the original film and filmmakers for the choices made then. But the more I think about it, the more I believe there may be room for a version of the film that honors the heritage of the characters being portrayed in the story by casting actors with more appropriate backgrounds. That could be a very empowering thing and a very positive thing.

    1. I have always found it interesting that a Greek American playing the leader of a Puerto Rican gang, as well as a Puerto Rican gang that is roughly 50% Anglo ( as well as their girlfriends) never elicits the same amount of discussion as a Russian American actress playing Maria.

  23. Josh Steinberg

    there may be room for a version of the film that honors the heritage of the characters being portrayed in the story by casting actors with more appropriate backgrounds. That could be a very empowering thing and a very positive thing.

    Fair point — but if the casting is the only issue, and the book, script, score, etc. are perfect as-is, that's not really very much to change, content-wise. So, it's still a tightrope they'd have to walk in terms of how to do that again, even if they cast it in an ethnically-correct manner.

  24. Josh Steinberg

    I've been thinking a lot about this over the past day or so, and I'm really of two minds on West Side Story in particular. On a technical level, I do believe it's perfect – the direction, choreography, book, songs, score and performances are all top notch, and I'm not sure any could be bested. But, on the other hand, in a story where the main theme is two people from two different backgrounds and cultures being able to come together and transcend racism and bigotry and hate, in a modern context it is somewhat odd to see that pairing actually be two white people, one playing a white person and one wearing makeup to portray someone of Puerto Rican descent. In 2018, they'd never make that casting choice to begin with. Now, I completely understand that things were different when the original film was made, and that in casting Natalie Wood, they picked one of the biggest movie stars of the time for the role, and it's hard to argue against that. I don't really mean to criticize the original film and filmmakers for the choices made then. But the more I think about it, the more I believe there may be room for a version of the film that honors the heritage of the characters being portrayed in the story by casting actors with more appropriate backgrounds. That could be a very empowering thing and a very positive thing.

    On the plus side: Rita Moreno was actually born in Puerto Rico … 😎 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rita_Moreno

  25. B-ROLL

    On the plus side: Rita Moreno was actually born in Puerto Rico … 😎

    Indeed. And I wonder how much the casting of Moreno and other actors and actresses that have more appropriate backgrounds for those parts has helped with the film enduring. I wonder if it had been an all white cast across the board, if the film would be looked upon differently than it is today.

    Jake Lipson

    Fair point — but if the casting is the only issue, and the book, script, score, etc. are perfect as-is, that's not really very much to change, content-wise.

    For people of Puerto Rican descent who grew up with perhaps the most culturally famous example of their heritage being played by a white person, I imagine they'd see it as a very big change. I get what you're saying, but I think that change might mean more than you're giving it credit. As a white guy, there are no shortage of examples that I can look at to see myself portrayed onscreen. I can't imagine what it must be like to be of Puerto Rican descent and to watch this famous love story of a white teenager falling in love with a Puerto Rican teenager, with the unintended subtext that the only Puerto Rican that was acceptable for the white teen to fall for was the one played by the white girl. At best, this might make the entire premise laughable to younger generations who are used to more diverse and ethnically appropriate casting choices; at worst, given how the film has been so honored and is perceived to be untouchable, it might just play as another example of being told by society that Puerto Ricans are somehow "less than" and "the other" and therefore, unworthy.

    If the film had been about a white gang vs. a black gang, and the leader of that gang was played by a white man in blackface, there'd be no question in today's world that that was not okay, right? So, why is it okay if it's a Puerto Rican?

    Jake, I'm sorry if this comes across as picking on you, I don't intend to… just using your quote as a jumping off point for thoughts of mine that are still evolving. 24 or 48 hours ago, I would have said that the idea of West Side Story being revisited in any form was folly. But the more I think about it, the more I see an opportunity to do something special with it, particularly if a master filmmaker like Spielberg was at the helm. I think the revisions from the most recent Broadway production offer a path forward that would justify a remake's existence in a way that remakes of other classic musicals might not be justified.

  26. Josh Steinberg

    Jake, I'm sorry if this comes across as picking on you, I don't intend to… just using your quote as a jumping off point for thoughts of mine that are still evolving.

    It does not seem that way at all, so no need to apologize.

    And to answer your question: it's not okay to have blackface or Puerto Rican-face, now. We have evolved beyond that as a culture. But the simple fact that Natalie Wood was made up to look Pueerto Rican does not take away from the otherwise masterful film that they made. The answer to "Why make this again?" can be "so we can do it with ethnic actors," but that in and of itself does not mean that they don't have to find other ways to freshen it, too, which is going to be a challenge when everything is so great in the original. That's all I mean. Simply doing it with ethnic actors does not erase the legacy of the original, and therefore it will still be a very high standard to live up to in almost every regard other than the non-ethnic casting.

    1. George Chakiris, Gus Trikonis, Larry Roquemore, Jamie Rogers ,Eddie Verso, Suzy Kaye et al were ALL made u to look Puerto Rican. Just as Rita Moreno was made up to look Asian for “The King and I’, in which she also had her vocals dubbed (and which she conveniently leaves out of the conversation when criticizing Wood’s casting).

  27. They did "West Side Story" at my daughter's high school back in 2001 or so and the casting was all over the place, with whites, blacks, Latinos, Asians intermingled on each side. I think the idea was to give the biggest parts to the best people, regardless of ethnicity. It was kind of weird, to say the least. My daughter was an art major so she wasn't in it, but she had earlier taken drama classes at the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club in the Bronx (where Jennifer Lopez got her start) and she and her class–all Puerto Rican girls–did "Gee, Officer Krupke" in a show. (My daughter is a West Side Story baby–white father–who grew up watching WEST SIDE STORY incessantly–and Puerto Rican mother.)

  28. Vic Pardo

    I think the idea was to give the biggest parts to the best people, regardless of ethnicity. It was kind of weird, to say the least.

    This increasingly common practice is called "colorblind casting." It works when the content of the show doesn't have anything to do with race. However, since race is a central theme of West Side Story, it is essential that it be cast correctly, especially for a new Hollywood film.

    It's also worth noting that, later in the run of the Broadway revival, the original English-language lyrics were restored due to audience member complaints about not being able to understand the Spanish. The cast recording for this production preserves the Spanish lyrics because it was recorded around the time of the show's opening, but they did eventually back down on having as much Spanish. Presumably, if they included the Spanish lyrics in the film, English subtitles would be offered for those sections, so it might not be as much of an issue on film, but it's still worth noting that that happened.

    1. Oddest color blind casting I’ve seen is a concert performance of “South Pacific” with Reba Mcentire ( great!) and Brain Stokes. While Stokes was great too. He’s African-American and the plot turns on racism.

  29. TJPC

    As an aside here, is there any reason why I suddenly am not getting any e-mail alerts at all?
    Have I accidently changed settings or something? I just added to the above thread, there was a reply and no e-mail.

    Happened to me for several days but it is back to normal to-day. Must by an HTF problem not ours.

  30. As a bit of an aside, I wanted to say/brag that I saw Chita Rivera in concert tonight, which happens to also be her 85th birthday. She is, of course, the indelible Tony-winning star of the original Broadway production as Anita, plus many, many other roles throughout an illustrious career in the theatre. While of course she has aged in the 60 years since West Side Story premiered, she has done so magnificently, and is, as ever, one of the world's greatest entertainers of all time. It was a great privilege to be in her audience tonight.

    She sang songs from throughout her career, but West Side got both "A Boy Like That" and "America." With respect to all the talented women who have sang these since she originated them, no one does it quite like her.

    If Spielberg does go through with this remake, I feel it only appropriate that he should find her a cameo in it somewhere to honor hr legacy in this show.

  31. Jake Lipson

    As a bit of an aside, I wanted to say/brag that I saw Chita Rivera in concert tonight, which happens to also be her 85th birthday. She is, of course, the indelible Tony-winning star of the original Broadway production as Anita, plus many, many other roles throughout an illustrious career in the theatre. While of course she has aged in the 60 years since West Side Story premiered, she has done so magnificently, and is, as ever, one of the world's greatest entertainers of all time. It was a great privilege to be in her audience tonight.

    She sang songs from throughout her career, but West Side got both "A Boy Like That" and "America." With respect to all the talented women who have sang these since she originated them, no one does it quite like her.

    If Spielberg does go through with this remake, I feel it only appropriate that he should find her a cameo in it somewhere to honor hr legacy in this show.

    I also saw Chita Rivera when she was performing at the Sydney Opera House, many years ago. A truly unforgettable experience.

  32. I have seen Chita RIvera in three Broadway shows: the original Chicago, The Rink, and Kiss of the Spider Woman. She was magnificent in all of them but particularly Chicago. I couldn't get my aunt and uncle (who used to take my brother and me to NYC a couple of times a year) to go to Bye Bye Birdie because they thought it was a rock and roll show, and they were afraid of West Side Story's plot which they thought was too heavy for someone as young as I was. But that was OK. In their place I saw Carnival!, My Fair Lady, and The Music Man.

  33. Jake Lipson

    http://deadline.com/2018/01/steven-…est-side-story-directing-vehicles-1202262857/

    Spielberg usually gets what he wants, but I cannot understand the value of remaking this film when the original is as close to perfect as it gets. If he wants to make a musical, I'm all for that but I wish he would use his considerable clout and talent to film one that hasn't been made into a movie before.

    I mean, if someone is going to make a West Side Story remake, at least Spielberg is too good to dismiss. But it still seems like a missed opportunity for him to do something genuinely new.

    Thoughts?

    I have no problem with remakes, as long as the originals are still available (which is usually the case). If a good director has an interesting take on a story that's already been filmed, it might be worth watching.

    Also, I don't really consider the 1961 movie "close to perfect." It has a hell of a lot going for it. The dancing is among the best in cinema. And it has three great supporting performances: Russ Tamblyn, George Chakiris, and Rita Moreno.

    But Natalie Wood is miscast, and Richard Beymer is absolutely horrible. If you're going to do Romeo and Juliet, you need a good Romeo and a good Juliet.

    You can read my article on the film.

  34. LincolnSpector

    I have no problem with remakes, as long as the originals are still available (which is usually the case). If a good director has an interesting take on a story that's already been filmed, it might be worth watching.

    Also, I don't really consider the 1961 movie "close to perfect." It has a hell of a lot going for it. The dancing is among the best in cinema. And it has three great supporting performances: Russ Tamblyn, George Chakiris, and Rita Moreno.

    But Natalie Wood is miscast, and Richard Beymer is absolutely horrible. If you're going to do Romeo and Juliet, you need a good Romeo and a good Juliet.

    You can read my article on the film.

    I totally agree with you that Natalie Wood was miscast. Same for Richard Beymer. He is said to have crawled under the seat when he first saw the film. He hated his performance. It was truly horrible .Let's face it, he never had much of a career. Whatever could has possessed Robert Wise to cast these two actors? The story may have been based on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, but even he based his story on other similar stories that were common in his day. I am truly amazed at how many gullible people to-day still think that Romeo and Juliet was a true story. He just based his story on someone else's and made his characters older and set it in a different city. I saw this film when originally released several times on a huge 62 ft wide screen in 70mm. Luckily it was shown without an intermission as the Director insisted for it's Roadshow release.

  35. Josh Steinberg

    I feel like you guys are failing to take into account that West Side Story, with Beymer and Tamblyn, is actually a Twin Peaks prequel 😀

    I'm sure West Side Story is a big reason why they got cast in Twin Peaks.

  36. LincolnSpector

    I have no problem with remakes, as long as the originals are still available (which is usually the case). If a good director has an interesting take on a story that's already been filmed, it might be worth watching.

    Also, I don't really consider the 1961 movie "close to perfect." It has a hell of a lot going for it. The dancing is among the best in cinema. And it has three great supporting performances: Russ Tamblyn, George Chakiris, and Rita Moreno.

    But Natalie Wood is miscast, and Richard Beymer is absolutely horrible. If you're going to do Romeo and Juliet, you need a good Romeo and a good Juliet.

    You can read my article on the film.

    I would agree that Wood and Beymer were miscast. But the fact remains that as written, both Tony and Maria are the least interesting characters in the show. Even when I saw the recent stage revival with better casting in the roles this was apparent.

  37. So, apparently, this is on and casting has begun. Spielberg does a musical (remake). Why not? And if you really want to change it up, how about making it the Crips and the Bloods from the 80s and do that version? You can still call it West Side Story since the Crips and the Bloods were all over from Culver City to Venice beach on… the West Side. And they could rap "America" like in Hamilton with a few minor lyric changes.

  38. Hollywoodaholic

    So, apparently, this is on and casting has begun. Spielberg does a musical (remake). Why not? And if you really want to change it up, how about making it the Crips and the Bloods from the 80s and do that version? You can still call it West Side Story since the Crips and the Bloods were all over from Culver City to Venice beach on… the West Side. And they could rap "America" like in Hamilton with a few minor lyric changes.

    Do you have a link to confirmation that it’s a definite go?

  39. Tino

    Do you have a link to confirmation that it’s a definite go?

    http://www.showbiz411.com/2018/01/2…ory-pro-forma-casting-call-goes-out-for-leads

    Sadly, they are not taking my suggestion and it will still be NYC in the 1950s, but you better speak Spanish if you want to play a Puerto Rican in this version. The book looks to be different, though, with Tony Kushner writing the script (Angels in America).

  40. Hollywoodaholic

    So, apparently, this is on and casting has begun. Spielberg does a musical (remake). Why not? And if you really want to change it up, how about making it the Crips and the Bloods from the 80s and do that version? You can still call it West Side Story since the Crips and the Bloods were all over from Culver City to Venice beach on… the West Side. And they could rap "America" like in Hamilton with a few minor lyric changes.

    I think Cannon did that version in the 1980s:
    [​IMG]

  41. I don’t get the hate at this idea.

    The original will still be available and remain the classic that it is.

    What bearing will this remake have on the original? None.

    If it’s not your cup of tea just don’t see it. Seems like a simple solution.

  42. Well we won’t see this film before 2021 at the earliest…if it actually ever gets made.

    Spielberg is committed to filming the next Indiana Jones film first next year with a 2020 release.

  43. bujaki

    Yes, Chicago with Verdon! Unforgettable production.

    Also with Jerry Orbach, who should have played Billy Flynn in the movie. Richard Gere was much better than I thought he'd be (meant as a compliment; he was good), but no one played that type of role better than Orbach. As for his age at the time, Flynn doesn't have any romantic interest in any of the others. He's just a cynical lawyer. True, he was in Law & Order at the time, but they let Jesse L. Martin off to do Rent, so Orbach was available.

  44. My problem with WSS from the first time i saw it as a teenager on a rerelease in the late '60s is that it seemed dated coming out just before the social revolution of the '60s. With 50 years of social change I think a remake would be fine and Spielberg can give it more gravitas. Musicals are meant to be re-interpreted on stage and a re-do could add more grit and realism to a story of the streets.

  45. My problem with WSS from the first time i saw it as a teenager on a rerelease in the late '60s is that it seemed dated coming out just before the social revolution of the '60s. With 50 years of social change I think a remake would be fine and Spielberg can give it more gravitas. Musicals are meant to be re-interpreted on stage and a re-do could add more grit and realism to a story of the streets.

  46. Tino

    What’s so strange about it? Seems perfectly acceptable to me.

    "Maria & Anita are Latina" seemed to me to be a dig at the 1961 movie for casting Natalie Wood as Maria.

    "Must be able to sing" seemed to me to be a dig at Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer, both of whose singing was dubbed by other voices. (Rita Moreno was dubbed, too, even though she's been a singer throughout her career.)

  47. Vic Pardo

    "Maria & Anita are Latina" seemed to me to be a dig at the 1961 movie for casting Natalie Wood as Maria.

    "Must be able to sing" seemed to me to be a dig at Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer, both of whose singing was dubbed by other voices. (Rita Moreno was dubbed, too, even though she's been a singer throughout her career.)

    I take as being more honest to the source material than it being a “dig”. Kudos to them. :thumbsup:

  48. Vic Pardo

    "Maria & Anita are Latina" seemed to me to be a dig at the 1961 movie for casting Natalie Wood as Maria.

    "Must be able to sing" seemed to me to be a dig at Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer, both of whose singing was dubbed by other voices. (Rita Moreno was dubbed, too, even though she's been a singer throughout her career.)

    This is how every casting call I've seen has worded. They'll specify which ethnicity their looking for (or "All Ethnicities" if the script doesn't specify), an age range, and any specific talents required.

    In this case, it looks like Speilberg's looking to cast unknowns instead of names. If that's the case, you might as well cast actors and actresses that check all of the boxes. There are plenty of 15-25 year olds with the musical theater chops to pull off the vocals without bringing in outside help.

  49. I’m all for it. I was involved in a stage production of West Side Story many years ago and the director made it so that the gangs were much more hateful, racist and violent; and the love story more passionate. It was actually a very well-acted production, which made it a more believable, more emotional experience to me. The dancing and choreography was excellent, as well. While I liked the original movie, I wasn’t completely sold on the enmity betwixt the gangs, nor the romantic intensity between Tony and Maria. I’d definitely be up for something a bit more gritty and engaging. Dismissing a remake, before actually seeing it, to me, is like saying all stage productions other than the original broadway production and cast are a terrible idea…

    On a similar note. I saw the 2016 remake of Ben-Hur for the first time last night. The 1959 version is my favorite movie of all time, so believe me, I was ready to dismiss it, but I actually liked it pretty well. I still liked the original better, but the 2016 version was still well-done (mostly) and definitely held my attention. The way they did the end credits was REALLY stupid and corny, tho…

  50. Tino

    From the article you linked:

    “I’m hearing that one might be his dream project, a new version of West Side Story. Spielberg’s camp had no comment on his plans.”

    That sounds like a rumor to me.

    It's happening. Tony Kurshner has signed on to do the screenplay. My source: Kushner's husband, film historian Mark Harris.

  51. I don't understand why people get all hot and bothered about remakes. What's the worst thing that can happen? One more lousy movie that's forgotten in a few years, while the original remains loved for generations.

    What's the best that can happen: Two great films that take different approaches to the same story.

  52. LincolnSpector

    It's happening. Tony Kurshner has signed on to do the screenplay. My source: Kushner's husband, film historian Mark Harris.

    I know. That was two weeks ago. At the time it was just a rumor. It was confirmed shortly after I posted that with the info you just posted. So at this point it’s old news.;)

  53. LincolnSpector

    I don't understand why people get all hot and bothered about remakes. What's the worst thing that can happen? One more lousy movie that's forgotten in a few years, while the original remains loved for generations.

    What's the best that can happen: Two great films that take different approaches to the same story.

    I just feel that some films should be left alone. It's also a resources issue. In the case of the WSS remake, I'd MUCH rather see a director like Spielberg spend his time, talent and treasure giving us something new and unique instead of retreading ground that's already been covered.

  54. dpippel

    I just feel that some films should be left alone. It's also a resources issue. In the case of the WSS remake, I'd MUCH rather see a director like Spielberg spend his time, talent and treasure giving us something new and unique instead of retreading ground that's already been covered.

    The 1960 version will be left alone. It will not be cut, taken out of circulation, or converted to 3D (at least I hope not). So there's nothing to worry about.

    And it's quite possible that Spielberg and Kushner will make a very different and equally-good version. I doubt they'll do better than the original when it comes to choreography, but in other ways, it may be much better.

  55. Chelsearicky

    George Chakiris, Gus Trikonis, Larry Roquemore, Jamie Rogers ,Eddie Verso, Suzy Kaye et al were ALL made u to look Puerto Rican. Just as Rita Moreno was made up to look Asian for "The King and I', in which she also had her vocals dubbed (and which she conveniently leaves out of the conversation when criticizing Wood's casting).

    Jaime Rogers and Eddie Verso are both Puerto Rican.

  56. I know this is probably just wishful thinking, but given the current struggles in Puerto Rico, I think it would be great if the production could try to give jobs and internships on the film to students or graduates who were studying at Puerto Rican film schools or working locally there. It would be a great gesture that might go a long way.

    I was reading last night about how after Katrina hit New Orleans, Elvis Costello sought to record with the famed New Orleans pianist Allen Toussaint, and that the sight of Toussaint recording again in New Orleans gave hope to people there that things would get better again. And I thought, if that brought a measure of comfort and joy to people in New Orleans, why not try the same idea for Puerto Rico?

  57. That's a great idea, Josh. Incidentally, Lin-Manuel Miranda (who did the Spanish translations for the 2009 revival) is bringing Hamilton to Puerto Rico next year and returning to the title role for the first time since leaving the Broadway company in 2016, in an attempt to give Puerto Rico just such a boost. If they are going to use Miranda's translations again, perhaps he will get on board and organize something like what you're describing.

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