West Side Story (US, 1961)

Ultra-stylised violence

Prompted by going to see this in the London revival later this week, I watched the Bernstein-Robbins-Sondheim classic again. It was even better than I remembered. Terrific music, choreography and book with stylish, often Expressionist, direction. Whilst there is a tension between the oxymoronic dancing-hoodlums, the emotion on show heightens the hackneyed narrative. Great acrobatics from Russ Tamblin and Rita Moreno’s Anita is magnificent.

It’s half a century old but knife crime’s high in the news agenda as is the position of immigrants in society. It’s a indication of failure that this musical remains timely. Let’s get all the thugs into to see the show and they’d see the futility of violence! ‘Ha bloody ha’.

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