Davis, de Havilland, Flynn, Cagney, Bogart ...

Davis, de Havilland, Flynn, Cagney, Bogart ...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

West Side Story and the New York Skyline...

Today, New York City is in all of our thoughts.  New York in my mind will always look and feel like two separate cities.  The first is the city of the 1930's and 40's, with beautiful brownstone homes, tenements, news kiosks and coffee shops, the Empire State Building (with King Kong on top) -- all in atmospheric, shadowy, beautiful black and white.  The second is the New York of the movie West Side Story.  The opening prologue of West Side Story begins with a representation of the New York skyline in vertical pencil lines, highlighted by shifting colors, while the glorious music plays.  At the end of the prologue music, the pencil lines are replaced by an unforgettable picture of the city from high above.

The World Trade Center was not yet built when West Side Story was made, so it is not in that picture of the skyline.  Now the skyline once again is void of the World Trade Center.  I watched this scene from West Side Story this morning, thinking of the same thing we are all remembering today.  Once those fabulous buildings did not exist.  They stood for a time.  Now they exist no longer.  For all of the people who suffered and died there on this day 10 years ago, for all of us who watched helplessly, for our country which was changed forever after that day -- I am offering the opening prologue of West Side Story, for the music, for the haunting pencilled representation, and for the final glorious birds-eye view of the skyline.  This link will take you to the prologue -- I hope you will go there to experience what I felt this morning, pausing on the picture at the end and thinking of our mortality and our eternal spirit:

http://youtu.be/yuyFTeZXy5I

God be with us all...

19 comments:

  1. The image and the music are almost unimaginably touching. It is the right thing for this day, Becky.

    Later today I must have some more Bernstein. I must see Gene and Frank and Jules "On the Town". Later. Not now.

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  2. Thank you, CW. It just seemed to say so much to me today.
    I think On The Town is perfect, too. There is a lot of happiness to remember about New York today as well...

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  3. Becky, I agree with Caftan Woman: the WEST SIDE STORY overture was a perfect choice to commemorate today's 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Bernstein's music feels very appropriate for both the tragedy of the destruction and the triumph for the survivors and all who reached out to help, proving that we Americans won't let evil take over. ON THE TOWN is also a fine choice for the happier side of New York, even considering our heroes are taking a brief break from serving our country.

    If you're interested, here's a link to my updated TotED blog post about our family's experiences on 9/11/2001:

    http://doriantb.blogspot.com/2010/09/its-perfect-fall-day-how-could-this.html

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  4. Very nice, Becky. How appropriate for today. And Dorian, I agree with "On the Town." I'll offer up "The Naked City," also from the late 1940s, which shot on location in New York.

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  5. DORIAN: Some things just come into your mind when you remember, and this did for me. I will read your experiences, and am very interested to do so. I've never even been to New York, but have loved it always through movies and books. BTW, I've been so busy the last few days, plus fighting off illness (what a crummy few months it has been!)and I feel way behind with my movie friends. I will be catching up with what I like to do and read over this next week!
    CFB: No wonder we are movie friends. I thought of Naked City too after Caftan Woman mentioned On The Town. You know, I don't know if I should ever visit New York at all in person. It just wouldn't look right to me, I don't think. It would have to be in black and white...

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  6. Becky, CFB, I agree with your suggestion of the original film version of THE NAKED CITY, one of my favorite Jules Dassin films as well as one of my favorite docudramas! By the way, RTV has begun running the NAKED CITY TV series in our area, and I'm most impressed! Like the movie, the show was filmed on location in NYC, and had lots of great stars in early roles, too. For instance, yesterday's episode starred young Sandy Dennis as a young lady who shot football hero Aldo Ray because she "loved him." Bewildered shooting survivor Ray swears he never knew her except to sign an autograph for her, leading series star Paul Burke and his fellow NYPD police detectives into a tangled web of deceit and madness. It's one of those shows that now earn praise such as "They don't make them like that anymore!" :-)

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  7. Thank you, Becky. I have found this day to be one of great sadness that I just can't shake.

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  8. Becky: Thank you for putting into words things I can't seem to put onto 'paper'.

    The brilliant prologue from WEST SIDE STORY was the perfect choice for a day in which we were all overwhelmed by memories.

    A movie that showed the black and white NYC in which I grew up was A HATFUL OF RAIN which was filmed in and near the Al Smith Projects on the lower East Side where I grew up. It's funny you should mention the NYC of the 40's. I'm working on a post about the NYC I knew in the fifites. When NYC was a playground for kids like me. :)

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  9. What a nice compliment, Yvette --- thank you. I have always liked A Hatful Of Rain -- how fascinating that you grew up in that area! I am looking forward to reading your post abou NYC in the 50's. I've always loved New York, never been there, never seen the real thing. I'd love to hear what you have to say about it. I want to be alerted about this one! LOL!

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  10. Several wonderful posts, including this one, on New York-set movies (in connection to yesterday's anniversary) have got me thinking about that great city as shown in the movies. I'm thinking of the colorful, sophisticated, romantic New York of "Bell, Book and Candle" and "Breakfast at Tiffany's" - late '50s/early '60s, a favorite era. And the later Woody Allen paeans to NYC...

    Where I live, September 11 was a very beautiful, very quiet day. A hushed day. The county that I live in, though far from New York, lost 4 residents on that day 10 yrs. ago. One woman was from my town. I was happy for her family and the other families that the day was so serene, Fall in the air, the sunlight slightly golden with seasonal change...

    Perfect tribute, Becky.

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  11. Thank you, Eve - no one has ever used the word perfect in connection with my writing - that feels great. I too have had movies in my mind that always spelled New York to me - many were 1930's and 40's detective stories, love stories like the original "Love Affair" - New York is just such an important part of film. I live in Indianapolis, not a close neighbor in distance, but close in heart on that day.

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  12. Becky, what a wonderful tribute. My father was at a meeting in the Pentagon, on that very sad day. He is, ok.. but, he lost a lot of friends and co-workers. We did not know where he was for over 8 hours.

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  13. Dawn, what a terrible day for you and your father. Thank God he made it through. A terrible day for all of us as Americans and free people who now have a sense of vulnerability in our very hometowns. I'm glad you thought my tribute was adequate to the day. Thank you.

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  14. Nice reflection, Becky. That's right, I finally made it back over here and will try to visit every day from now on to see if you have something new up.

    But what's up...you don't recommend my blog? Why do I have to be annonymous?
    KimWilson

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  15. Kim! It's really you! I don't know why you had to be anonymous - I didn't do it, I swear! That's an account ID thing. As far as the blogroll, I guess I thought you and, coincidentally, WhistlingGypsy, weren't really blogging anymore, and I went on a manic housecleaning spree (no reflection on your blog, of course!) Then what happens? THE NEXT DAY, Gypsy writes and says she is back blogging. And, unbelievably, THE NEXT DAY, TODAY, you do the same. I feel like a DOG. I will hit myself with a stick and sit in the corner without dinner. I deserve such public humiliation.

    You are, of course, going right back up, Ms. Kim! I'll be eager to see new stuff from you. I do things maybe once a week or so. I'm posting something tonight, and then Monday I'm posting a Guilty Pleasures Blogathon article. I'm doing Reefer Madness and Sex Madness, my favorite 30's exploitation twin films. I've been having fun with it.

    Great to see you!

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  16. I deserved to be removed...two months and not a post! Please don't have anyone hit you with a stick!

    I'm doing The Wizard of Oz for the Guilty Pleasures thingy...I promise it will be one of my best EVER. Look forward to reading your Reefer Madness article...not so familiar with Sex Madness, the film that is, so you'll have to educate me on that one.

    KimWilson is not "Anonymous" Blogger...I write on your site!!!

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  17. It's late and I'm tired, and that last sentence did not make any sense to me at all -- who am I talking to? I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone!

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  18. LOL! I have to use GoogleChrome to comment as myself,,,was using IE. But, yes, that sentence was something out of the Twilight Zone.

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  19. Oh, BTW, I just thought of something--since we are obviously cut from the same dipped in turpentine cloth maybe we should do some type of collaboration. Something like: Becky and Kim Converse on Cinema.

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