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United Artists: 90 Years

Thursday, August 28, 2008
7:00 p.m. West Side Story
Robert Wise, Jerome Robbins (U.S., 1961)

It has become difficult to imagine Jerome Robbins’s choreography for West Side Story without Robert Wise’s widescreen interpretation that, like the dances, continually reinvents and reinterprets the standoff between the Sharks and the Jets. This is a universe of repetitive movements across unbridgeable distances, like the gaps between youthful love and adult prejudice, and between the American dream and the New York reality that inform the film’s central Romeo and Juliet plot. Only the cameraman’s boom reaches the heights inspired by Manhattan’s architecture; for the film’s urban guerrillas (admittedly, like the Technicolor visuals, rather more urbane), the world is definitely horizontal.

—Judy Bloch

• Written by Ernest Lehman, based on the musical by Leonard Bernstein, book by Arthur Laurents. Photographed by Daniel L. Fapp. With Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn, Rita Moreno. (150 mins, Color, ’Scope, 35mm, PFA Collection, permission MGM)