WEST SIDE STORY: A radiant and touching performance by Natalie Wood as a Puerto Rican beauty in a New York slum is only one of the many strong points of this superb musical drama, a candidate for supremacy among the best movies of 1961. The savage “rumbles” of teen-age delinquents have often been crassly exploited on the screen. For once, they become tragic and meaningful in this exciting Hollywood expansion of the Broadway show, a reworking of the Romeo-and-Juliet story in terms of contemporary ethnic violence.
BACHELOR IN PARADISE: A
writer (Bob Hope) prepares a sort of one-man Kinsey report on the way-of-life he finds in a California suburb named Paradise. The ensuing merriment slows down to a stop before the film is over, although Hope utters dozens of snappy wisecracks in his copyrighted fashion. With Lana. T urner, Jan is Paige.
THE MASK: Made in Toronto by producer-director Julian Roffman, this is the first Canadian featurelength entertainment film to get a Broadway opening and international distribution through regular commercial channels. It’s a fairenough entry in the fantasy-adventure category and may pave the route for more ambitious sequels: but its 3-D “nightmare" sequences (glimpsed through special masks supplied at the door) are often more ludicrous than terrifying.
POCKETFUL OF MIRACLES: A
remake by old-timer Frank Capra of a 1933 comedy called l ady for a Day, starring Bette Davis in the May Robson role as a Broadway hag named Apple Annie. As before, Damon Runyon’s goldenhearted thugs and the big town’s snootiest bluebloods implausibly join forces in a benign conspiracy — to convince Annie’s Europeanbred daughter and her noble Spanish fiancé that the old apple-vendor is a Manhattan aristocrat. I’m probably in a minority about this one but I found it forced and corny, and far too long for its slender story.
And these are worth seeing:
Call Me Genius T he Hustler The Mark
Splendor in the Grass Summer and Smoke A T hunder of Drums Whistle Down the Wind
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