Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Guest Post Sarah ~ Romeo & Juliet (1936) & West Side Story (1961)

The last entry for June's Guest Blogger Month extravaganza comes from the lovely Sarah from Cinema Splendor. Sarah's posts are always fun to read and she just about dazzles and amuses everyone who visits her delightful blog. She's also the biggest Natalie Wood fan on the planet! Hope you enjoy this entry.

Disclaimer – it may help if you know the stories of Romeo & Juliet and West Side Story to read this post :)

So we all know that West Side Story is a modern retelling of the Shakespeare classic Romeo and Juliet. While they are similar, they also have their differences and my job is to show them to you! Raquelle made me...just kidding, I volunteered :)

Maria and Juliet both have fake deaths.
In R & J, Friar Laurence gives Juliet a potion to make her appear to be dead though she is really in a deeeeeep sleep. Deep enough to make her not have a pulse. Don't quite know how that one worked out, but okay...

Romeo doesn’t get the memo that Juliet isn’t really dead, so when he goes to see her ‘body’, he gets all upset and drinks poison to be with Juliet. She wakes up like, 3.5 seconds later and discovers Romeo all drawn out next to her. She has vice versa thinking and stabs herself with Romeo’s dagger to be with him.

WSS is totally different however because Anita gets upset after being harrassed by the jets and tells them that Chino shot Maria for loving Tony. Tony catches wind of this, runs out into the streets calling Chinos name begging him to shoot him too so he'd be with Maria. Tony and Maria find each other and while running towards each other all Bo Derek and Dudley Moore in 10 , guess what; Chino heard Tony yelling his name and shoots him. Insert a few dramatic moments and Maria walks away. The End. It isn’t shown or explained if Maria really did kill herself, so that’s one difference between the two stories.

Paris/Chino and the relationship between Tybalt/Bernardo and Nurse/Anita are completely different.

Paris in R & J has been arranged to marry Juliet. Chino in WSS has been arranged to marry Maria. Obviously both gals fall in love with other guys and these two are just left to their own devices.

Chino – kills Tony after he finds out about his relationship with Maria meaning he will probably end up in jail for quite a while.

Paris – After Juliet kills herself, he’s just sort of left in the dust. Poor Paris :(

Also, Tybalt is Juliet’s cousin. Nurse is kind of a confidant for Juliet. In the Shakespeare story, they’re not romantically involved, although Nurse shows some affection for Tybalt at the masked ball. Also, when Tybalt dies in the street fight, Nurse is visibly upset at his death. However, in West Side Story Anita and Bernardo are clearly lovers. Both Nurse’s and Anita’s reactions are similar in that they are both very upset at the deaths.

Romeo and Juliet are actually married while Tony and Maria are fake married.
R & J go to Friar Laurence (the same guy who give Juliet the “it’ll make you look dead” potion) to get married, like for real. Nobody knows about their holy matrimony except Nurse. Tony and Maria have a do-it-yourself wedding in the bridal shop (how appropriate) resulting in the scene that everybody hates and think its such a corn-fest, but…I kinda love it.

Do you see the “cross” above them? ;)

Mama will make him ask about your prospects.
If you go to church…
Oh, always.
Yes…Papa might like you.

Heh. Watch it here.


  1. Great post! I haven't actually seen West Side Story yet, but I definitely will now! Your posts are always so much fun to read :)

    ps. Right now the only image showing up is the first one... not sure if it's just my computer so I thought I'd let you know!

  2. Sarah, you are amazing!

    I haven't seen R&J yet. Mainly, because I love Norma so much that watching her die would be too much.

    However, I have seen West Side Story (several years ago). Somehow, I didn't realize it was the story of R&J...until it was too late. I was sitting there in my room at 3 in the morning with little tears running down my face.

    And seriously why'd they have to kill off Riff? All I kept seeing him as was little Gideon in Seven Brides For Seven Brothers!

    Anyways, excellent post!

    And, I too cannot see any of the photos...

  3. Thanks guys! I'm sending Raquelle the links for the images, sorry for the faux-pas :)

  4. i havent seen West Side Story since i was a little kid but i love that version of Romeo and Juliet. Norma is so stunning in that and the whole film is very well made. i really do need to sit and watch West Side again though as i am a big Robert Wise fan, what a fantastic film maker he was.

  5. I must say I always preferred the original Romeo and Juliet to West Side Story. And West Side Story is distressing in that it cast Natalie Wood as a Hispanic. Still it is a fun movie and well worth seeing. Thanks for the post, Sarah! And thanks for letting Sarah guest blog, Raquelle!

  6. Sarah, this is a nice piece, but you have incorrectly posted a picture of Reginald Denny as Tybalt. Basil Rathbone played Tybalt in the 1936 film; Denny played Benvolio, Romeo's friend.

  7. AH! Thanks for telling me Bob! oops :/

  8. Great post - I love West Side Story and even managed to play 'Tony' in a show of it back when i was a teenager. Truly is great!


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