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West Side Story Blu-ray

United States
DigiPack / Limited 50th Anniversary Edition / Blu-ray + DVD + CD Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer | 1961 | 154 min | Not rated | Nov 15, 2011

West Side Story (Blu-ray)
Large:


Video
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 2.19:1
Original aspect ratio: 2.20:1

Audio
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
French: DTS 5.1
Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
German: DTS 5.1
English: Dolby Digital 4.0

Subtitles
English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Mandarin (Simplified)… (more)

Discs
50GB Blu-ray Disc
Four-disc set (2 BDs, 1 DVD, 1 CD)
DVD copy

Packaging
Slipcover in original pressing
DigiPack

Playback
Region free

Price
List price: $69.99, Price history
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Movie rating
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
7.7
173
ratings.


Blu-ray rating
Video 4.3 of 54.3
Audio 4.1 of 54.1
Extras 4.3 of 54.3
Based on 5 user reviews

Movie appeal

 
Drama100%
Romance84%
Musical63%
Crime-
62%
popularity
702
collections
53
fans




West Side Story

 (1961)

West Side Story Blu-ray delivers great video and audio in this excellent Blu-ray release

Modern day "Romeo and Juliet" musical about a teen from one gang who falls for a Puerto Rican girl whose brother is from a rival gang, and no one wants them to be together, all happening on the streets of New York City.

For more about West Side Story and the West Side Story Blu-ray release, see West Side Story Blu-ray Review published by on where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.

Starring: Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Rita Moreno, George Chakiris, Russ Tamblyn, Simon Oakland
Directors: Robert Wise, Jerome Robbins

» See full cast & crew


West Side Story Blu-ray, Video Quality

  4.0 of 5

Fans of West Side Story's AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.19:1 have ben abuzz with some pretty venomous comments based on some early reports of flaws with this presentation, and several have decided before even seeing the Blu-ray that it's not worth owning. Are there problems? Yes, certainly, at least one of which should never have happened under any circumstances. Other compression artifacts, while troubling, are fairly commonplace ones that videophiles have seen in manifold high definition presentations since the dawn of the Blu-ray age. So let's get the bad out of the way first, and the good news (if bad news is ever good news) is that the bulk of the problems with West Side Story happen in the first few minutes. The inexcusable error is the absolutely incomprehensible and dunderheaded fade-out and fade-in during Saul Bass's iconic title design which accompanies the Overture. Fans of the film know that there should be no fade out whatsoever, simply a bold color change, followed by the slight pull back which reveals the title West Side Story as part of Bass's abstract skyline. That error was embarrassing enough for Fox to immediately agree to a second pressing, and corrected discs are expected soon (we'll make sure to post any exchange information in our news section as it becomes available). As we progress through the actual opening of the film, the overhead shots of Manhattan are plagued by fairly abhorrent shimmer on lots of the vertical lines of the skyscrapers. Later even more outrageous shimmer, verging on actual moiré at times, repeatedly hits the fence in the basketball court where the Jets and Sharks have their showdown (especially egregious examples can be seen at 7:43 and 11:53). Gated windows exhibit the same artifacting, notably at around 8:22. Very slight shimmer is also noticeable on the ribbed orange wall paneling of the high school dance scene later in the film. There are also some registration issues with opticals throughout the film, where density seems slightly affected.

So that's the bad news. The good news may not sound as dramatic, but it's really rather amazing. I have seen this film repeatedly in 70mm (and 35mm) through the years, and I can honestly say it has never looked this sharp or appealing, despite the occasional flaws of this transfer. Colors are gorgeously saturated, everything that an early sixties Technicolor film should be. Those outrageous reds and purples of Bernardo's shirt have never popped so magnificently, and everything from the weird oranges and purples of the high school dance sequence to that similarly orange hued semi-nightmare scene in Anita's apartment late in the film have never looked this gorgeous. West Side Story has been touted as having undergone hundreds of hours of restoration, and while that may or may not be PR hyperbole, the fact is this presentation is absolutely blemish free, clear and clean and remarkably sharp and well detailed.

In my personal opinion, the pluses far outweigh the minuses of this presentation and once Fox offers replacements fixing the Overture debacle, at least one major complaint will have been dealt with. Is this a perfect presentation? No, and I'm the first to say it certainly could have been better. Fox hasn't quite attained the generally consistent excellence that Warner has with their catalog titles (at least with regard to M-G-M and United Artists), and while Warner efforts like their recent Mutiny on the Bounty and now Fox's West Side Story are not all they might have been, there's still an awful lot here to celebrate.


West Side Story Blu-ray, Audio Quality

  4.0 of 5

Was there another missed opportunity with regard to West Side Story's new lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix? That depends on whom you ask. The film's original six track mag masters were discovered and restored last year, but those were not used for this new mix, evidently due to cost considerations. Instead a repurposing of the four track mag masters was considered more feasible. There's a fascinating article audiophiles may want to read here which details the discovery and history of the six track mix, which was standard in the Todd-AO format. Be that as it may, once again Fox has at least slightly missed the surround boat with this new rendering, and once again the biggest problem comes right off the bat, in terms of the iconic whistles which open the film. While they still are panned more toward the rear in this mix, they're not panned to the extreme side channels (alternating left and right) as they were in the original mix. With both this error and the unforgivable fade out on the Overture it's apparent that Fox either incomprehensibly didn't use a reference print of any kind or simply didn't have anyone working on this film who had any history or knowledge of how it was presented theatrically. The brouhaha raised by these errors will hopefully be a major wake up call to creative staffs who are working on Blu-ray releases of iconic catalog properties, as there are copious quantities of people still around who do have histories with the film, at the very least as audience members, and they remember how these movies looked and sounded.

And so once again, we're over the bad news. The good news is the 7.1 repurposing is for the most part rather artful. While highs seem to be just slightly clipped on this track, for the most part the music sounds absolutely gorgeous, with sterling fidelity and amazing dynamic range. Surround activity, aside from those opening whistles, is very well handled, and such great scenes as the Quintet have singing coming in clearly from the surrounds, helping to separate and define the many participants. Best of all, the last incomprehensible thing that happened on a West Side Story home video release, the bizarre audio synch problem during "Tonight," has been corrected. (What is it with these star- crossed home video releases of West Side Story, anyway?).


West Side Story: Other Editions



3-disc set
$12.98
1-disc
$10.26
3-disc set
$23.49
1-disc

1-disc
Wal-Mart


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West Side Story Blu-ray, News and Updates



Blu-ray.com Confirms 'West Side Story' Fix - January 6, 2012

A large hue and cry was heard from classic film fans when it turned out the new Blu-ray release of the venerable multi-Oscar winning film West Side Story had an inexplicable fade out during Saul Bass' iconic opening Prologue graphics sequence at circa 4:40 ...

West Side Story: 50th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Pre-Orders Now ... - July 12, 2011

Fox Home Entertainment has confirmed that they will release MGM's classic musical West Side Story in a 50th Anniversary Blu-ray edition. The film will be available in both a four-disc limited edition set including the film and special features on two BD discs, ...



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