West Side Story

We’ve had a delightful chat in the comments to the post about no singing at the XML2005 presentation. And though I sympathize with Charles about the use of “Somewhere” in an ad, I agree with Dan about show tunes being fun and contagious. I love Broadway show tunes, even those in the “King and I” ( Sorry, Yule).

James mentioned a Pet Shop Boys version of “Somewhere” and Ralph mentions one by Tom Wait (’gargling with gravel’–love it).

But I remember the first time seeing a young and innocent Natalie Wood singing this song (well, mouthing the words) as she and Tony cling to each other in her bedroom. Their world has collapsed around them and you and I watching the movie know that no good will come to them. That’s what saved the song, really: we knew that tragedy was inevitable, even in the face of such determined hope. In the movie, and in real life as an older, but not so old, Natalie, drifting face down in the water is superimposed over the younger in my mind.

Writing this I am reminded of another movie that released the same year: Breakfast at Tiffany’s. To a movie critic, to compare Breakfast at Tiffany’s to West Side Story, is the same as comparing the surgeon’s delicate touch to a jackhammer driver. Which is which, though, will change, critic by critic.

Do you remember the scene in Breakfast with the cat? It’s killer, I cried. But I also cried during West Side Story. I am not a sophisticated woman. This worries me sometimes.

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