October 2, 2018

Who will play Tony in Steven Spielberg's "West Side Story"?

Ansel Elgort!

There will really be a new movie of "West Side Story"?
Oscar-nominated screenwriter and Pulitzer Prize winner Tony Kushner has written the adaptation of the musical originally penned by Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim with music by Leonard Bernstein. Spielberg has spent the better part of the year looking for stars for his movie, with actors needing to be able to sing, dance, and, of course, act their hearts out for the story that transposes Romeo and Juliet into a 1950s New York setting featuring white and Puerto Rican gangs....
I'll give this my "race and pop culture" tag.  A white gang against a Puerto Rican gang. Let's hope the Tony Kushner rewrite finds a new way of living, a way of forgiving...

73 comments:

mccullough said...

The Gay White Guy writes about Gangs.

Burn, Hollywood, Burn

MadisonMan said...

I confuse Ansel Elgort with Taron Egerton in my mind.

John Lynch said...

I wonder if anyone will smoke?

"From your first cigarette 'till your last dying day."

Bay Area Guy said...

So, a distraught, lovesick, Tony is running through the empty night streets of Spanish Harlem, desperately searching for his true love with a plaintive cry, "Maria!... Maria!.... Maria!"

And only 1 girl comes out?

rhhardin said...

Paul Simon Trailways Bus from Capeman.

Hispanic NY gang story.

Expat(ish) said...

We flat wore out that VHS tape then came near it with the DVD. I've been in it twice, designed a set for it once, and watched (easy) twenty adaptations on stage. One of my fave things.

I dread what they're going to do with it, someone call Officer Krupke!

-XC

richlb said...

The guys from Red Letter Media think his name sounds like an anagram. And that he should have played young Han Solo in the Star Wars Story movie. He does look a LOT more like Harrison Ford than the guy they ended up with.

mccullough said...

Spielberg will make any piece of shit movie right now to distract from the blowback caused by his friend Harvey Weinstein.

He’d remake Birth of a Nation at this point.

Big Mike said...

To update “West Side Story” appropriately the white gang should be black, Tony should be black, and the Pierto Rican gang needs to be from El Salvador, with its members covered in tattoos.

Hagar said...

Classic movies have been made as remakes of less well-made movies, but I do not know of any remake of a classic movie that has been any kind of an improvement.

tcrosse said...
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tcrosse said...

John Waters says they should only remake the bad movies, of which he's made a few.

Rob said...

The Jets must be one badass gang with a tough leader like that.

madAsHell said...

I confuse Ansel Elgort with Taron Egerton in my mind.

Engelbert Humperdinck.

Kevin said...

God help him if he doesn't cast Bernardo, Maria and Anita with actors who are certifiably Puerto Rican. If you cut them, they better bleed Puerto Rican. The whole world is watching, Spielberg. That's probably what is taking so long.

And when is this supposed to take place? Are there really white gangs in Manhattan? Are there white gangs anywhere outside of prison? I guess maybe in the opioid trade now? But, in Manhattan?

Ralph L said...

Can't wait to see the Jet ballet dancers.

Kevin said...

I really don't see this working believably if it is set today. Gangs in the US in 1961 were like, gasp, juvenile delinquents and stuff. They skipped school sometimes. They had... rumbles! Oh my!

Gangs in the US in 2018 just open up their cache of military grade weapons and fucking kill you and anyone nearby you and other randos for good measure. If this is set in 2018 and they bring the serious threat of mass death that gangs in 2018 represent into the plot, that is going to be really awkward. But if they don't, then it's going to be really stupid.

And if it is just set in 1960 or so it risks being just completely irrelevant, a throwback to an innocent time when people thought crime was skyrocketing but really had no idea the scale of what was coming.

Dave D said...

Hollywierd is firmly on "empty" in the "New Ideas" category. Not needed......

gspencer said...

They might consider updating their gang line-up, though it would be hard to work up a snazzy song-n-dance routine to the Trinitarios' gang vicious stabbing murder of a 15-year old,

https://nypost.com/2018/06/23/gang-leader-sorry-after-innocent-teen-is-butchered-in-street/

Carter Wood said...

I'd like to see the remake of the great NYC gang movie, The Warriors. Bonus: Lazlo!

A battle of gigantic proportions is looming in the neon underground of New York City. The armies of the night number 100,000, they outnumber the police 5 to 1, and tonight they're after the Warriors - a street gang blamed unfairly for a rival gang leader's death. This contemporary action-adventure story takes place at night, underground, in the sub-culture of gang warfare that rages from Coney Island to Manhattan to the Bronx. Members of the Warriors fight for their lives, seek to survive in the urban jungle and learn the meaning of loyalty. This intense and stylized film is a dazzling achievement for cinematographer Andrew Laszlo.

mockturtle said...

Most of the gangs of that era were white: White Irish gangs against white Italian gangs, IIRC. They grew up into the Irish Mafia, the Italian Mafia and the Jewish Mafia. Were there Jewish gangs back then?

Kevin said...

I loved The Warriors. And growing up, it and Saturday Night Fever strongly influenced what I thought NYC was like. As you can imagine, I became quite the Giuliani fan.

mockturtle said...

I don't believe in remakes. They are nearly always inferior products [a possible exception: Invasion of the Body Snatchers]. One shudders at the thought of a remake of GWTW.

Kate said...

Didn't Baz Luhrman already film the definitive remake of this?

JML said...

They should really update it - MS 13 against the Bloods or the Crips. "Malaya, I just met a girl called Malaya...all the dope sound words in one puta loca ..."

Ignorance is Bliss said...
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Ignorance is Bliss said...

Just to tie things back around, one of the characters is named Loco.

mockturtle said...

They should really update it - MS 13 against the Bloods or the Crips.

I like it! Maybe the Bloods and the Crips could actually join forces against MS13 but then the film could end in a heartwarming [or thoroughly frightening] ménage à trois.

William said...

Spielberg made Bridge of Spies. That movie dramatized the plight of Gary Powers whose U2 plane was shot down by Soviet anti-aircraft. Here's an interesting,, little known fact about Soviet antiaircraft missiles. They were equipped with proximity fuses that came to the Soviets courtesy of the Rosenberg spy ring.......Kushner wrote Angels in America. That play depicted Ethel Rosenberg as a benign presence in contrast to the malignant Roy Cohn. Roy was a closeted homosexual who supported Republicans. Ethel was a closeted Communist who supported Stalin. You can see why Kushner was so down on Cohn and so worshipful of Ethel........,I'm afraid that their remake of West Side Story will sour every positive memory I have of the first film. Spielberg should take another shot at The Great Gatsby, Spider-Man, or Pride and Prejudice. Those remakes are frequently better or as good as the originals.

Narayanan Subramanian said...

If Hollywood had guts remake could be (Chicago) Southside Story with Barack and Michelle

readering said...

Showboat was remade. Can't think of any other classic musical remake.

























.

Roughcoat said...

The late-1980s demise of the Westies -- an Irish gang in the West Side neighborhood known as Hell's Kitchen (now known as "the Clinton")-- brought the era of white gangs on Manhattan to an end. Jimmie Coonan, the boss Westie, is still in prison, but most of the others -- including, notably, the Westies' enigmatic baby-faced enforcer, Mickey Featherstone -- are free men. Same goes for Billie Beattie, Kevin Kelly, and Kenny Shannon. Featherstone disappeared with his wife into witness protection and has kept his nose clean. It is known that he had a son who in the army who served in Iraq.

The Westies are a particular, and (admittedly) peculiar, fascination of mine.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

readering said...

Can't think of any other classic musical remake.

Hairspray

gahrie said...

Rather than remake West Side Story..why not reboot it to today?

gahrie said...

So, a distraught, lovesick, Tony is running through the empty night streets of Spanish Harlem, desperately searching for his true love with a plaintive cry, "Maria!... Maria!.... Maria!"

And only 1 girl comes out?


I've been mentioning that for years as one of the most unrealistic scenes in movies.

Roughcoat said...

West Side story gang warfare was quite Homeric, everyone observed and abided by Homeric protocols and standards of behavior, they chose dueling heroes to settle matters in the "space between armies," and the heroes fought with edged weapons.

All very quaint.

Roughcoat said...

In the preceding I'm referring to West Side Story the movie/musical, not the story of the West Side Westies, who were savage and crazy and conflicted in a way that only the Irish can be.

Henry said...

Ansel Elgort is a name made for crossword puzzling.

Molly said...

Isn't I'd Like to Be in AMerica insulting to immigrants?

Terry Resort said...

First saw the movie in Ponce, PR when I was eight, now watching with my 5 yo granddaughter to ease her into Spanish.

I hope they dont ruin it.

readering said...
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reader said...

Carter Wood has it. My first thought was "Wariors, come out to play-ee-ay."

Roughcoat said...

Russ Tamblyn was a great dancer. And he was straight.

tcrosse said...

Considering the sort of revisions that opera directors get up to, I would expect something like an all-female or all-gay cast. Or both. Next could be an all-gay remake of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

AustinRoth said...

@Hagar - how about “The Fly”. Both are classics.

tim maguire said...

Why would they remake West Side Story rather than Romeo & Juliet? That doesn't make sense, even if it is set in present day New York.

mccullough said...

Transgendered Gangs

William said...

I'd like to see a remake of Bonfire of the Vanities. That was a great novel that never really came alive on the screen. Maybe there's something about malice, spite, and social climbing that doesn't make for great drama on the screen as opposed to the page. The novel Vanity Fair, which Tom Wolfe had in the back of his mind when writing Bonfire, has never been successfully adapted. I think Margaret Mitchell used the same dynamic between Scarlet and Melanie that Thackeray used with Becky and Amelia. GWTW might be the best film version of Vanity Fair.

mockturtle said...

Readering appears to be guilty of space abuse!

Char Char Binks said...

"Gangs in the US in 1961 were like, gasp, juvenile delinquents and stuff. They skipped school sometimes. They had... rumbles! Oh my!"

Don't minimize it They also smoked in the boy's room, stole hubcaps, and called their teacher "Daddy-o".

Freeman Hunt said...

I hope it's not a musical.

Char Char Binks said...

They have to go with Black-on-Puerto Rican for this one, or possibly a mixed-race gang vs. Puerto Ricans.

First, a white street gang isn't believable, second, no white people can dance anymore. Well, a few can, but it would be the wrong kind of dancing to the wrong kind of music, or they wouldn't be good enough, or it wouldn't be allowed because of cultural appropriation.

Robin Eatmon said...

I love West Side Story. As a young girl I would sing along to the record which was the movie sound track album, I always loved the cover with the fire escape stairs drawn on a red background. I liked the movie but I always thought the casting could have been better keeping it off my list of perfect musical movies. Oklahoma is my perfect movie musical. I would welcome a remake with actors who can both sing and dance.(Rita Moreno was my favorite in the movie). I won't be happy if they don't create the atmosphere of the era...like the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel does, keep the original choreography and all the songs.

Matt said...

I hope they don't change the songs to make them hip-hop a la Hamilton. There's just so much of this updating a person can take. It was bad enough when all the musicals had to be classic-rock operas. Ugh.

On the other hand, a West Side Story jukebox musical with Wu-Tang clan songs could very well be the Best Thing Ever. Somebody needs to call Lin-Manuel Miranda and RZA.

Mark said...

Why not a two-fer? Combine it with Star Wars IX -- Rebels vs. First Order/Empire.

That way I won't have to not watch two movies, I can just not watch the one. Save everyone a lot of time and trouble.

SeanF said...

Char Char Binks: Don't minimize it They also smoked in the boy's room, stole hubcaps, and called their teacher "Daddy-o".

In 1973, it was "Smokin' in the Boys Room".

In 2018, it's "Vapin' in the Gender-Neutral Restroom".

mockturtle said...

Oklahoma is my perfect movie musical.

Probably the best ever. I'd hate to see what a remake would do with "I'm Just a Girl Who Can't Say No". After all, it's well know today that women have NO agency in sexual encounters. /s

readering said...

Sorry for the space abuse. Don't know how that happened!

mockturtle said...

Readering explains: Sorry for the space abuse. Don't know how that happened!

Well, don't let it happen again! ;-D

sparrow said...

Baby driver was very good BTW

tcrosse said...

My guess is that whoever owns the rights to West Side Story is not going to allow too much jiggery-pokery with it. There was a 2009 Broadway revival in which Spanish dialog and lyrics were worked in where appropriate, to much acclaim.

readering said...

Disagree that Oklahoma is the perfect movie musical--but best opening? For sure!

buwaya said...

Almost true about Vanity Fair. There was a BBC series a few decades ago, and I recall it was OK.

buwaya said...

Tom Wolfe is hard to transfer to the theater, so much is in the turn of phrase, and the description.
How do you use a bit like “social x-rays?” Not in dialogue surely.
Maybe if there is a wry narrator role.

buwaya said...

How does one do “A Man in Full”, without a narration on Epictetus?
There are lots of dramatic and comedic bits in there, but it’s not going to work.

Now, “Charlotte Simmons”, there’s a script in that.

narciso said...

I think casting Tom banks was where it began to go wrong, he basically phoned in his work from volunteers,then casting Melanie Griffith as the Latina mistress?? Or Bruce Willis as a British reporter?

Ken B said...

With Kushner it is guaranteed to suck. I was never a big fan of the thing, but I shudder to think what they will do with this “concept musical”

Btw, Bernstein and Sondheim were *hired*, separately, to write the songs. It really was a “concept musical “ worked up by the producers.

Rich Rostrom said...

Hagar: I haven't seen the remake of True Grit, but I have read that Matt Damon as La Boeuf was a great improvement over Glen Campbell, who wasn't really an actor.

Rich Rostrom said...

I find West Side Story to be a deformed "take" on Romeo and Juliet. R&J is a classic tragedy, in that the protagonists are destroyed by their own runaway emotions. (Their circumstances are a contributing factor, but ultimately they kill themselves.)

WSS is different - Tony is killed by Chino, an external circumstance.

Ken B said...

Rich, the remake is indeed better. The book is terrific too.

The Crack Emcee said...

Kent State University cancels production of West Side Story after complaints that too many white students were cast in lead roles

Come on. How many "white gangs" are there anymore, anyway?

Jimmy Cagney would be embarrassed.

readering said...

Kushner and Spielberg should make a good team. I liked Munich and Lincoln.

rcocean said...

Ah, West Side Story. If you like knife fights with lots of singing and dancing - this one's for you.

Hopefully, they'll tell songs like "America" and "Gee, Officer Krupke" to drop dead.