Saturday, January 15, 2011

Natalie Wood "West Side Story": The First Time... - January 15, 2011

I know, I know. Yet another crush on a brunette singing her heart out. What can I say? But this, this is as old school as I've gotten with my crushes so far and it's one that is a little more obvious than some of the others I've laid on you. I like musicals. Duh. I like gorgeous brunettes. No doubt. And West Side Story is one of my all-time top 10 films, and probably always will be. While movies like "Streets of fire" and "Phantom of the Paradise" stoked the fire that was my interest in musical cinema, West Side Story is the benchmark for my love of musicals, period. It was (I think) the first one I ever saw and its effect is still felt today. A lot of that effect came from the performance of Natalie Wood.

Yeah, it's hard to deny that white actresses doing brownface is a little frustrating as we've become more progressive in our casting. But Wood, who would continue to worm her way into my heart in "Rebel Without a Cause", "Splendor in the Grass", etc., is classy enough that this kind of slight can be forgiven. We ain't talking Mickey Rooney in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" here. Maria is a heartfelt character, that any starry-eyed young man would fall head over heels for, and Wood's grace shines through in her performance.


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