Wednesday, May 4, 2016

SS United States Silver Screen Review: West Side Story (1961)


West Side Story. The documentary of the 1957 gang epidemic that hit New York City, where you were not only judged on your fighting skills, but your dancing. Since then, the Sharks and Jets have become one of the biggest gangs in the country. Usually after a set period, the violence subsides, but every few years there is another revival, another uprising. The conflict never seems to end. Unlike other violent groups, parents and schools actively support them to continue on in their communities, even encouraging their kids to join in.

Enough with my dramatics. This movie is an adaption of the hit Broadway musical. The musical is a 20th century adaptation of the play, Romeo and Juliet. It's fun, it's sad, it's long, and it doesn't ever have enough mambo. Never enough mambo. Everyone looks really sunburnt and sweaty.

Did you know the SS United States was in this movie? I didn't. I've probably seen this movie a few times in my life and never picked it out. Want to see the part it appears in? It's actually on YouTube:

0:03 - 0:07, a brief flyover of the ship at its home port. This whole introduction segment in the movie is to cue the viewer into the setting. From well-known buildings and commercial areas that say, "This is New York," the viewer is slowly brought into more residential neighborhoods, until they zoom in and meet the Jets. The SS United States's home pier was Pier 86 (now home to the USS Intrepid), part of a stretch commonly referred to as "Luxury Liner Row." This was where all the great ocean liners docked in New York. At the time this movie was made, the SS United States's funnels would have been a familiar and established landmark at the docks.

Movie: It's a classic. It's a feel-good musical until it literally stabs you in the heart. 4/4
SS United States: It's the actual boat, helping to place the setting. 2/4.

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