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Russ Tamblyn & Jets, "Office Krupke" Musical Number, West Side Story (1961)

Russ Tamblyn & Jets,

This Academy Award and Golden Globe-winning musical drama-romance film - the classic, box office hit "West Side Story" - is still one of my all-time favorite musicals. Exterior shots were filmed on location in Manhattan, New York City.

Synopsis, via Wikipedia:
"West Side Story" is a musical with book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. It was inspired by William Shakespeare's play "Romeo and Juliet."
 
The story is set in the Upper West Side neighborhood in New York City in the mid 1950s, an ethnic, blue-collar neighborhood (in the early 1960s, much of the neighborhood was cleared in an urban renewal project for Lincoln Center, which changed the neighborhood's character). The musical explores the rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, two teenage street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds. The members of the Sharks, from Puerto Rico, are taunted by the Jets, a white gang. The young protagonist, Tony, a former member of the Jets and best friend of the gang's leader, Riff, falls in love with Maria, the sister of Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks. The dark theme, sophisticated music, extended dance scenes, and focus on social problems marked a turning point in American musical theatre. Bernstein's score for the musical includes "Something's Coming", "Maria", "America", "Somewhere", "Tonight", "Jet Song", "I Feel Pretty", "A Boy Like That", "One Hand, One Heart", "Gee, Officer Krupke", and "Cool".
 
The original 1957 Broadway production, conceived, directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins and produced by Robert E. Griffith and Harold Prince, marked Sondheim's Broadway debut. It ran for 732 performances before going on tour. The production was nominated for six Tony Awards including Best Musical in 1957, but the award for Best Musical went to Meredith Willson's "The Music Man." Robbins won the Tony Award for his choreography and Oliver Smith won for his scenic designs. The show had an even longer-running London production, a number of revivals and international productions. A 1961 musical film adaptation, directed by Robert Wise and Robbins, starred Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Rita Moreno, George Chakiris and Russ Tamblyn. The film was nominated for eleven Academy Awards and won ten, including George Chakiris for Supporting Actor, Rita Moreno for Supporting Actress, and Best Picture.
 
The film has been deemed "culturally significant" by the United States Library of Congress and was selected for the National Film Registry in 1997.


Some film trivia, via IMDb:
Robert Wise's original choice to play Tony was Elvis Presley.
 
Rita Moreno stated that her line reading of "Don't you touch me!" after the Jets attack Anita was her imitating Marlon Brando, her then-boyfriend. Brando even noticed at the film's premiere.
 
Contrary to popular belief, the prologue of West Side Story was not filmed where Lincoln Center is now (which is between 62nd and 66th streets). Rather, it was filmed in what is now an area called Lincoln Center Towers - a group of large residential towers - which is north and west of Lincoln Center, stretching between 66th and 69th Streets (filmed on West 68th Street to be more specific). The street itself, West 68th between West End Avenue and Amsterdam Avenue, no longer exists). This area was condemned and the buildings were in the process of being demolished to make way for Lincoln Center Towers. The demolition of these buildings was delayed so that the filming of these sequences could be completed.
 
The film ran in Paris for a grand total of 249 weeks, making it the longest running film in French history.
 
Russ Tamblyn (Riff) said that initially he was very unhappy with his dancing in the film, until Fred Astaire came over to him at the premiere and told him that he admired his dancing in it very much.
 
Not only are Natalie Wood and George Chakiris wearing make-up to look more Puerto Rican, Rita Moreno (who is actually Puerto Rican) had to wear the same make-up to tone with them.
 
The song "One Hand, One Heart" was written for the earlier musical "Candide," but later discarded by Leonard Bernstein and revived for "West Side Story."
 
Natalie Wood recorded all the songs she would sing in the film and was told that only some of her higher notes would be dubbed but eventually they were all dubbed by Marni Nixon.
 
The lyrics to "America" were substantially changed for the movie. There had been complaints that the Broadway version was too belittling to Puerto Ricans, in that the song mainly ridiculed Puerto Rico and Puerto Ricans. The movie lyrics emphasize the racism and discrimination that Puerto Ricans were subjected to in America.
 
When filming "The Taunting Scene", Rita Moreno was reduced to tears when she was harassed and nearly raped by the Jets, as it brought back memories of when she was raped as a child. When she started crying, the Jets immediately stopped what they were doing and tried to comfort her, while pointing out that the audience was going to hate them for what they were doing.
 
In a few scenes, a poster can be seen for Palisades Park, which was a real amusement park that straddled the border of Cliffside Park and Fort Lee, New Jersey, from 1898 to 1971.
 
During the "Cool" number in the garage a number of Jewel Home Shopping Service trucks can be seen. These were the home network of the Jewel Tea Company, a home routes business delivering coffee, tea, spices, and dry goods to homemakers.
 
The interior sets were built six feet off the ground to allow for low-angle shooting with large 70mm cameras.
 
Russ Tamblyn had originally tried out for the role of Tony. It was down to just him and Richard Beymer, and Beymer ended up getting it. But then the casting directors called him back and asked him to read for Riff, and he got the part.


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Photo taken on 24 April 2019 (© classic_film / Flickr)

Related tags :
 west side story, 1961, film, russ tamblyn, musical, 1960s, sixties, movie, cine, cinema, music, musik, nostalgia, nostalgic, hollywood, new york, new york city, película, celebrity, color
 

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