Best Picture Winners Part 34 (of 87): West Side Story


Title: West Side Story
Year: 1961
Starring: Natalie Wood, George Chakiris, Rita Moreno
Runtime: 2 hr 32 mins

What It Is: When street gang The Jets has had enough of their Puerto Rican adversaries The Sharks they decide it’s time for an all-out rumble they decide this at a dance of all things. Stakes need to be set and at the local candy shop they are. It’ll be mano a mano. Something else happened at that dance Maria sister to Bernardo (leader of The Sharks) falls in love with former Jet Tony. This of course does not set well with Bernardo who already has a rumble to think about. This musical set in New York features catchy songs and “snappy” dialogue, and I mean that quite literally.

Memorable Quote: Ice: [singing] Play it cool boy, real cool.

Competition: Extraordinary. To start off is Fanny. Wonderful performances by it’s cast particularly Maurice Chevalier and Charles Boyer. This story of a mechanic who dreams of the sea, and leaves pregnant girl behind. When he returns from the sea to find Fanny has married an older man. He is crushed, but all may not be lost at sea after all for the young lovers. Next up we have a dense and balanced war epic in The Guns of Navarone. This J. Lee Thompson film weaves a interesting tale of the hypocrisies of war. This is one of the best World War II epics. Featuring a talented cast including Gregory Peck, David Niven, and Stanley Baker. In The Hustler Paul Newman absolutely creates an icon with his Fast Eddie Felson character. However, it Jackie Gleason as Minnesota Fats who steals the show, and almost won an Oscar. This story of a gambling obsessed poolshark who gets “in too deep” with the wrong crowd. Lastly Judgment at Nuremberg is an absorbing and complexed peek into a truly volatile time in post World War II Europe. Outstanding performances and Stanley Kramer’s fantastic and tight direction make this a 1960’s American gem. Two films I’m very disappointed to not see were both nominated for the two different Screenplay awards Best Original nominee Fredrico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, and Best Adapted nominee Breakfast at Tiffany’s these two films years later are more memorable than others that did receive a nomination.