Tags: Hollywood | Natalie | wood | iconic | role | maria

Natalie Wood as Maria: 7 Quotes About Iconic Role

By    |   Tuesday, 26 May 2015 03:37 PM

"West Side Story" is a central piece in American cinema, renowned for its spin on Shakespeare’s "Romeo and Juliet." With strong character development, especially by Natalie Wood as Maria, and musical numbers throughout the piece, the film has become iconic in modern film.

Yet, like all great movies, controversy surrounding the 1961 best picture film arose from the critic community. While Rotten Tomatoes claimed "West Side Story" was "perhaps the most iconic of all the Shakespeare adaptations to visit the big screen," other critics, Roger Ebert pointed out, found issues with the happy ending and Natalie Wood’s casting since her voice was dubbed by Maria Nixon.

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Yet, Wood’s role as Maria, the Juliet-equivalent girl torn between family obligations and true love, contributed to the many awards the musical won, including the 1962 Album of the Year Grammy she was awarded as an artist.

The following seven quotes about Wood’s iconic performance as Maria highlight the differing opinions in the critic community:

1. "And, although Wood gives a strong enough performance, it's legitimate to argue that she was miscast. An extreme suspension of disbelief is required to accept her as a Puerto Rican, and her shaky accent doesn't help. She doesn't look the part; in fact, based on appearance, she would have been more at home as a Jets girl than as lovestruck Maria. Wood also did not do her own singing. That duty fell to professional voice dubber Marni Nixon.” – James Berardinelli on Reelviews.

2. "Wood and Beymer make a very handsome, attractive romantic couple, though they are upstaged by the most exciting supporting turns imaginable from Chakiris, Moreno, Tamblyn, Simon Oakland, Ned Glass, William Bramley and John Astin." – Derek Winnert, author of "Ultimate Encyclopedia of the Movies."

3. "Give credit to Natalie Wood and Richard Breymer, who struggle to make the awkward, borderline banal, dialogue more credible than it is. It doesn’t help that Wood’s and Breymer’s voices were dubbed by Marni Nixon and Jim Bryan, respectively; Nixon has the wrong voice for the part." – Emanuel Levy, reviewer.

4. "On the downside, Beymer gives a bland portrayal of the angst-ridden Tony and fails to generate any chemistry with Wood." – Stella Papamichael, to BBC.

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5. "Natalie Wood is full of luster and charm as the nubile Puerto Rican who is poignantly drawn to [Richard Beymer’s characterization of Tony]." – Bosley Crowther for the New York Times.

6. "The movie was 'frenzied hokum,' the dialogue was 'painfully old-fashioned and mawkish,' the dancing was 'simpering, sickly romantic ballet,' and the 'machine-tooled' Natalie Wood was 'so perfectly banal she destroys all thoughts of love.'" – A summary of Pauline Kael’s review for Roger Ebert.

7. "Natalie Wood offers an entrancing performance as the Puerto Rican who falls in love with Richard Beymer, forbidden by strict neighborhood ban against group intermingling, and latter impresses with his singing." – Whitney Williams in Variety.

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West Side Story is a central piece in American cinema, renowned for its spin on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. With strong character development, especially by Natalie Wood as Maria, and musical numbers throughout the piece, the film has become iconic in modern film.
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Tuesday, 26 May 2015 03:37 PM
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