Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Thursday Thirteen #156
THIRTEEN FACTS ABOUT
WEST SIDE STORY
As we wait to see which picture wins the Oscar for 2011, let's look back at the one that won 50 years ago -- The Best Picture of 1961: West Side Story.
I personally like this movie well enough but I don't love it. Still, many people do. Recently, when we were gossiping about Natalie Wood's death, one of my coworkers sighed and confessed how much he loved her as Maria. Now 32 years old, he was only a toddler when she died. But West Side Story is still shown in high schools every year as an introduction to Romeo and Juliet. So I guess boys not yet born will see it and fall a little in love with Natalie Wood, too.
2) Marni Nixon did all Natalie Wood's singing. Coincidentally, you can also hear her as Eliza Doolittle, singing for Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady.
3) Like Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady, Natalie didn't know she wasn't doing her own singing during filming. On set, both women sang their hearts out. It wasn't until later that producers decided to bring Marni Nixon, who had to synch her vocals with their lips.
4) Director Robert Wise wanted Elvis Presley to play Tony. I would have loved that. As it is, Richard Beymer kinda sucks.
5) At least Elvis could have done his own singing. Beymer's vocals were done by a singer named Jimmy Bryant.
6) Rita Moreno won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Maria's friend and Bernanrdo's lover, Anita. A usually strong singer, her voice was dubbed for one song, "A Boy like That," because she had a cold and was struggling with the deeper notes.
7) The "slum" where the movie opens is really the west side of Manhattan, where Lincoln Center stands today. In 1960, buildings were demolished to make room for Lincoln Center and the film makers decided to use the rubble and chaos to lend authenticity to the scene.
8) In the stage play, the Jets' oath was brotherhood that lasts "Womb to tomb, sperm to worm." Hollywood censors changed it to, "Womb to tomb, birth to earth" for more sensitive movie audiences.
9) Shooting lasted 6 months. Most movies in 1960 were filmed in 6 weeks.
10) The cast went through 200 pairs of shoes.
11) Once it opened in Paris, it played for 249 consecutive weeks, making it the most popular Hollywood movie in French history.
12) 50 years ago, it was nominated for 11 Oscars and won 10. The one it didn't win? Best adapted screenplay.
13) Natalie Wood went to the Oscars that night as a Best Actress nominee but not for West Side Story. Instead she was nominated for Splendor in the Grass. She's shown here in the audience with her date and Splendor costar, Warren Beatty. She lost to Sophia Loren, the first and (I think) only actress to win in a foreign language role (Two Women).
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