Dir: Robert Wise & Jerome Robbins
Marcus Award Winner for BME
This is my favorite movie ever made. Ron planted the seed of a rememberance of the departed Robert Wise through viewing this film. Tonight, I revisted an old friend. Check that, I looked up an old lover, the woman who broke me in to the world and whom I hold a place for in my heart.
Let us all agree without discussion that WSS has the best songs, score, costumes and choreography in movie history. I could write books on each of those subjects, but tonight we celebrate the direction.
Credit rightly went to Robbins. Since the contemporary rules prohibit it, it is a rare thing that dual directing credits are offered. But the genius of Robbins is a giant element of this movie's greatness. But tonight we celebrate Wise.
Wise made this vision of a text come to life. He took WSS off of the stage and put it on location, staging the beautiful first twenty minutes on the true West Side. After that, the movie moves on set, but loses none of its scope, beauty, or importance. Each set is perfect, each color striking, each light perfectly placed, each camera shot exactly where it should be. Wise, blisfully, refuses to compromise the essence of the play, retaining its operatic and balletic soul.
Sure, the songs are indelibly etched into pop culture (America; Maria; Tonight, Tonight; There's A Place for Us: Cool; When You're a Jet; Gee, Officer Krupke). This is the greatest play ever produced by Americans. Hands down. But Wise elevates even this text.
Robert Wise. He opened my eyes to a genre. He produced something that will live forever. God love him.