MovieChat Forums > West Side Story (1961) Discussion > At this late date, can anything be done ...

At this late date, can anything be done about the sound quality?


I admit to an obsessive love of the score, and love to sing it and hear it sung... but it's a hell of a lot less enjoyable when the soundtrack is this flat.

Is that a technical problem, does aging film stock develop sound problems? Can anything be done out of it short of digital remastering, not that I know how much that would help. Is there enough interest in this flawed movie version to even try?

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I have the Blu ray of this movie and I think the soundtrack sounds fabulous.

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They must've revamped the Blu-Ray version of West Side Story a great deal then, because when WSS first came out in Blu-Ray about six years ago, there were many things wrong with it, which resulted in many irate customers either returning their Blu-Ray version of West Side Story, or rescinding their backorders. Maybe that's what resulted in its improvement.

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So what? I'm not going to spend money on a DVD or Blu-Ray DVD player, let alone an elaborate home theatre system, because I'm not interested. You can sit on your butt watching DVD's to your heart's content. I'm not interested in that kind of lifestyle. TAKE THAT!!!

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lolwtf?!!!!

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Lolwtf

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There are digital restoring/remastered and cleaned-up and reprinted and hi-definition versions of the film West Side Story. I've seen afew screenings of that.

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I have an obsessive love for the film West Side Story, at large, and I make a point of seeing it when it comes around, be it on TV or on a great big, wide screen, in a real movie theatre, with the lights down low. I've even made special road trips to neighboring states, or to the opposite end of the Bay State, in order to see it, as well.

I've seen some screenings of West Side Story that are digitally restored, remastered, cleaned up and reprinted, and restored to its former glory and color. It's great.

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It's a pity that my local TV station couldn't get their hands on a copy with good sound, but it's nice to know such copies exist.

Still, I don't know if I'll buy a remastered DVD, because my obsessive love for the music did NOT carry over to the film version. So much miscasting, so much bad hair, so much Marni Nixon...

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I've made a point of not buying any DVD players, first because I prefer to see movies, especially movies like West Side Story, on a great big, wide movie theatre screen, with the lights down low, and to share the experience with a whole bunch of other people, whether I know them or not. Secondly, I'm not the kind of person who enjoys always watching films on a DVD, or on television. Thirdly, a decent Blu-Ray DVD player can be prohibitively expensive, and regular DVD's cannot be played on them. If I lived out in the boonies or the 'burbs, I might consider getting a home theatre system, but since I don't, I hold memberships to two independent, non-profit movie theatres in my general area.

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There's one independent, run-like-a-nonprofit movie theater in my area, and I consider myself fortunate. But they play new releases, the revival houses of my youth are long gone, so there's no way to see older films with fellow cinephiles. You can't truly appreciate "The Wizard of Oz" until you've seen it with an audience that hisses every time the WWotW appears!

Anyway, I don't like either of the leads very much and Marnie Nixon's singing is all wrong, but the time for a better remake is long past. Better to have a flawed version of this fantastic musical than none, so yeah, I usually watch it when it comes on TV.

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There are at least 3 independent, non-profit movie theatres in my area, 2 of which I hold annual memberships to, and give a donation to every year. All three of them have played West Side Story, Wizard of Oz, and Sound of Music on occasion, to name afew films.

I frankly don't think that a re-make of the film West Side Story is a good idea. It would more than likely be turned into a junky piece of hip-hop, rap-infested mess with no style or substance to it.

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You're very fortunate to have those theaters available!

As for remakes, I agree, and argued it out back in the IMDB days. You can't modernize it as juvenile delinquency has changed so much, modern kids in gangs may have automatic weapons instead of switchblades. And the score is totally alien to today's urban youth (well, it was also totally alien to the urban youth of 1960 but it's easier to accept these things at a distance.) And if you update the score, you lose it's unique beauty. So you can certainly make a new film about star-crossed lovers singing hip-hopera in a gang setting, but if you do it's no longer ,"West Side Story".

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Thank you again for your input, Otter. You've made some very good points, but what's equally important, however, is that, in the event that the film West Side Story was re-made, the romantic relations between Tony and Maria, as well as Bernardo and Anita, as well as the other Jets and Sharks and their girls would be way steamier and more sexually explicit. The playground and street skirmishes between the Jets and Sharks would be much more damaging, the language and racia/ethnic expressions a lot harsher and "bluer", and Lt. Schrank and Ofcr. Krupke would be much rougher and even more overt in their hatred of both the Sharks and the Jets.

Moreover, the Rumble would be carried out with automatic weapons, rather than fisticuffs and/or switchblades, and the deaths of Riff, Bernardo and Tony would be far bloodier. I personally think that West Side Story should be left alone. Steven Spielberg has done some awesome films, but he'd be better off leaving West Side Story alone and doing something else.

What's really funny is that our generation never demanded re-makes of movies that our parents' generation saw and liked a great deal in order to fit our opinions and suit our likings. Why should this generation demand a re-make of what's a beautiful classic movie-musical to suit their ways of thinking? They shouldn't, imho.

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Yeah, there's a trace of innocence about the juvenile delinquents of 1960 that is no longer part of the culture.

The only way to recapture it would be to cast the characters as very young, but of course you can see the problems with that. Gotta go.

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None of the Jets or the Sharks were innocent, as they were tough, they had switchblade knives and also used fisticuffs, but today's gangs are even more ruthless, especially because guns are the weapons of choice nowadays.

I don't think that anything could or would beat the original film of West Side Story.

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A bit late, but as far as I know a Blu-Ray player can play a "regular" DVD just fine. And you can find them for as little as $99.

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That's not what I've heard, Costumer. Moreover, even if that was possible, I'm not the least bit interested in purchasing either a regular DVD player or a Blu-Ray DVD player, because I don't like constantly sitting home on my butt and watching movies on television the way you and most people do.

I'm not cheap like you probably are, either, because being cheap only results in having even more expenses. I know people who've bought super-cheap blu-ray or regular DVD players, only to have them break down. Subsequently, they've ended up buying a better one for more money. Nowadays, one really does get what they pay for.

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Do you feel compelled to insult people?

First you have heard incorrectly. Blu ray players can play standard DVDs.

Second, I have many interests. Yes, I will watch movies on DVD. And in a theater. I also read; usually 2 - 3 books per week. My wife and I are involved in a competitive artistic hobby. I serve as a officer in the organization which promotes that hobby.

My wife and I help care for my aged mother who suffers from Alzheimers.

I am neither cheap nor profligate. How you draw a line from Blue-Ray players can be found for $99 to cheap simply astounds me.

You are perfectly free to not purchase a DVD or Blu Ray player. You are perfectly free to choose not to watch movies on them.

What you are not free to do is make wild accusations or to assume that you are somehow a superior human being because you choose not to use DVD and Blu-Rays.

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The cheaper DVD and Blu-Ray DVD players are made overseas, in countries with the lack of technological know-how, and poorer quality materials to boot. The reason so much stuff is being made overseas, rather than here in the United States is obvious; The companies who put out DVD players and/or blu-ray DVD players appealed to many, if not most people's desires for things that are cheap, and it's backfired horrendously.

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You seem to know very little about electronics. Almost all are made overseas. A $99 works perfectly well. You'll get years out of it. You are just looking for excuses know.

Again, buy one or not. That is your choice. But don't make silly excuses for the decision.

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I can make all the excuses that I want for not buying one, Costumer. The fact that so many things are made overseas has resulted in a lot of crummy stuff being put out, also. It's disgusting. It's gotten to the point where when I purchase something that has been made here in the United States, it's a huge relief to me. The fact that so many companies/products have been taken off United States Shores is disgusting.

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ok, getting political. Not why I'm on these boards
.

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A very good Blu-Ray player that will also play DVDs can be bought for $100.00 to $150.00. With one of those and a good, large tv (available for less than $1,000.00) movies can be watched in very high quality without the annoying distraction of an audience talking, texting, and chomping on stinky snacks.

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Well, I've got news for you, liscarkat! Forget about it. I'm not interested in purchasing DVD's, DVD players, or Blu-Ray DVD;s or blu-Ray DVD players. I have better things to spend that kind of money on. I don't like sitting home on my butt watching movies on TV. You don't go to good movie theaters, obviously. there are some good, decent ones on my area that I do go to, and hold memberships to, as well.

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I see where you're coming from, Otter, but, due to my intense love for the film West Side Story, I'm more than willing to overlook the dubbing that goes on in the film. I felt that Natalie Wood did okay as Maria. Even Richard Beymer, who I've always regarded as sort of a weak, lacklustre Tony, comes off as being more vital and alive when West Side Story is shown on a great big, wide movie theatre screen.

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I don't agree that Richard Beymer is a weak or bad Tony. To this day I'm still baffled why people say that - I thought he was one of the best parts of the film and he's a seriously underrated actor. He's what made me want to play the role myself. And I've noticed that people who say otherwise never give examples why or go into more detail - they just say he's bad and leave it at that.

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I learned some stuff about Richard Beymer that made me more willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Also, the Beymer-bashing in some circles really has gotten out of hand. The fact that Natalie Wood tried to get Beymer kicked off the set on several occasions was rather disgusting.

Richard Beymer would've liked to play the role of Tony, but with a rougher "edge" to him, but had directorial constraints on him placed by the late Robert Wise. Also, the way in which the scripts for both the original 1961 film version and the original Broadway stage productions of West Side Story were written, as well. Had all those things not gone on, Beymer would've been an even stronger Tony. I watched the film West Side Story on TCM this past Saturday night. Tony seemed to be okay, and there seemed to be plenty of chemistry between him and Natalie Wood.

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I agree, it's definitely gotten out of hand, and the way Natalie Wood treated Beymer on set was completely unacceptable. If I had been in his position, I wouldn't have put up with her behavior no matter how famous or how big of a star she was, even if it meant quitting the movie.

So I have heard people say that Tony didn't have enough "edge" - well, even in the stage script, I couldn't see what edge Tony was supposed to have. Yes he's an ex-gang member, but he's also changed and trying to be a normal, productive member of society. One thing I really liked that Beymer did was show that Tony was really tempted to fight Bernardo at the rumble, but then stop himself from doing it. I don't think the stage script has that direction written in there. Also, Beymer did portray Tony as an optimistic idealist and a hopeless romantic, which was exactly how he was in the script. I really don't know where the edge is supposed to be, or what it looks like when Tony is played "correctly." Then again, I've only seen it onstage once (twice if you count the production I was in, which I won't), and the guy who played Tony gave an excellent performance but I don't remember him playing up the "edge" either.

I would say that this is the best analysis of Tony's character that I've ever read, and nowhere does it talk about how Tony is supposed to be tougher than the way Beymer portrays him:

https://www.shmoop.com/west-side-story/tony.html

I did hear that Robert Wise put unreasonable limits on how Beymer could have portrayed Tony. My questions are, what did Beymer have in mind, what limits did Wise put on him, and why? Did Wise hold a grudge against Beymer for the fact that he was his last choice to play Tony, and he took his frustrations out on him? Did Robert Wise want Beymer to play Tony as "more of a white knight in shining armor" rather than an ex-gang member? Where can I read about this for more details? I've tried looking online, but the information out there is so short and so limited.

One of these days, I hope to meet Beymer in person and let him know what an impact his portrayal of Tony has had on my life. I could send him a letter, but I don't know if he'll read it. Besides, I want to see him in person because I want to see his face while I'm telling him what a difference he made in my life, especially because I know he hated his performance. I especially hope I get to do it before he passes away - he's in his 80's now, so fingers crossed!

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Hi, StrongRex. Thank you for your interesting reply to my post about Richard Beymer. I had no idea that he was in his 80's. What I also heard/read about Richard Beymer is that he and Russ Tamblyn (the guy who played Riff in the original 1961 film version of West Side Story) are very good friends, in real life!

Another thing that I read and heard is that Richard Beymer and Natalie Wood met by chance in a California diner (though I don't know where in California), he approached Natalie Wood, was attracted to her, and they made up and became friends after that.

It's agreed--Natalie Wood's nasty treatment of Richard Beymer was totally unacceptable, and he should've stood up to her and made it clear that he wouldn't put up with that stuff she was giving him. Robert Wise wanted Tony to be portrayed as a gang member gone soft, and therefore more reformed, gentle and romantic. I also read/heard that the fact that Natalie Wood was dating Warren Beatty at the time had something to do with it (not that her treatment of Beymer was excusable.), and that Natalie Wood preferred to work with Warren Beatty as Tony in the original 1961 film version of West Side Story.

Elvis Presley was Robert Wise's first choice as Tony, but was forced to turn down the chance, due to an overly controlling manager. Elvis Presley had both the tough-but-tender looks, as well as the personality of an ex-gang member, and he could also dance and sing. I seriously wonder, though, how well his Souther accent would have gone over in New York's Hollywood in those days, however.

I hope you do get to meet Richard Beymer in perso. I'd love to read about how it went.

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I heard about their reconciliation too, and it's a nice story. I thought they had very believable chemistry already despite her hatred towards him on set, but I wonder how much more believable the chemistry would have been if Natalie Wood had treated Beymer with better respect from the start. I'm sure that also affected Beymer's performance in some way too, although I still think he did great!

That's really cool though, that he and Russ Tamblyn are best friends in real life! I've never seen Twin Peaks, but aren't they both in it?

I don't think Natalie Wood ever dated Warren Beatty - wasn't she married to Robert Wagner at the time? I also read that she knew Beatty already being his costar in Splendor in the Grass, and that she helped him with his audition for Tony and got cast as Maria.

Since I first fell in love with West Side Story 16 years ago, I've developed a more critical, analytical eye for movies in general. I've learned to pick out good performances from bad performances and good from bad writing, and I've developed my tastes on what I believe a movie should have to be good. My opinions have changed a lot on the movies I used to watch as a kid and I often think about how they could have been better if the writers/directors/actors made better choices. But when I watch West Side Story and look at Beymer's performance today vs. when I watched it in early high school 14-16 years ago, my opinions on him have not changed.

Honestly though, I'm glad Elvis didn't play Tony. Not that he wouldn't have been good, but some actors get so big and famous that any movie they get cast in, no matter how good the script is, becomes categorized as a movie inhibited by *that* actor and is known for nothing else. They don't stand out other than the fact that a major star starred in them. I think West Side Story would have just been another Elvis movie if Elvis played Tony. I've only seen a few bits and pieces from one or two Elvis movies though, so I'm not used to hearing his speaking voice. Has he put on a New York accent before?

I will most definitely let you know if I get to meet Richard Beymer. Yeah, remember West Side Story will be 60 years old in 2021, and Richard Beymer was 23 when it was released. So this would make him 81 now. Which makes me hope that he's at least healthy enough to live a little while longer and that nothing bad happens to him.

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StrongRex: Thank you for making some great points about Richard Beymer, the original 1961 film version of West Side Story overall, Natalie Wood, and the possibility that if Elvis Presley had played Tony in the original 1961 film version of West Side Story, it would've been just another Elvis Presley movie. The more I think about it, the more I believe that the chances are that the other characters in the 1961 film version of West Side Story would've been really overshadowed by Elvis Presley.

I'm not sure that Elvis Presley ever put on a New York accent, but from what I've read/heard, he did date Natalie Wood at one point. I knew that Natalie Wood was married to Robert Wagner. It's sad how she passed away. Nobody really knows what happened, but Robert Wagner is suspect in her death, I think. I could be wrong, however.

I seriously wonder if or how Elvis Presley could've/would've put on a New York accent for the filming of West Side Story, even if the winds of chance had turned and he had gotten to play the role of Tony in the original 1961 film version.

I also wonder, however, if having Elvis Presley play the role of Tony in West Side Story would've made the original 1961 film version an even bigger hit than it already was.

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I do suspect that Robert Wagner is responsible for Natalie Wood's death in some way, based the recent interviews and documentaries I've watched regarding the case. He's not acting right based on reports from Wood's sister and other people. He'll probably take the secret to his grave at this rate. But if I could travel through history and prevent certain deaths, Natalie Wood would definitely be one of the people I save.

I think I heard that Natalie Wood stopped dating Elvis because his mother didn't like her, and being a mama's boy Elvis would do whatever his mother wanted.

Also, I think West Side Story was the second highest grossing movie of 1961, it was beat out by 101 Dalmatians.

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I've heard some of those same points as well, StrongRex. There's speculation that Robert Wagner pushed Natalie Wood overboard while they were on a boat, and, at least partly due to being in a drunken state, she drowned.

I didn't know about Elvis Presley's mother disliking Natalie Wood, or anything about Elvis Presley's being a "mamma's boy", either, but that's entirely possible.

It's funny that the original 1961 film version of West Side Story was beat out by 101 Dalmations, putting WSS into the second highest grossing movie of 1961.

Thanks for the points you've made. They're cool--and interesting, to boot. I'm learning a lot from you.

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I've never had a problem with the sound quality on DVD.

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If you have a really good DVD player and a good print of the film, then you won't have a problem with sound quality.

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I paid about $50 for my basic Blu-Ray player, and I'm quite happy with it.

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To each their own. Not withstanding my lack of interest in buying either a DVD or Blu-Ray DVD player, my gut instinct would be to harbor more than a little bit suspicion of such a low price for something like that. This is me, however.

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