No film deserves a top-shelf DVD arrival more than “West Side Story,” and MGM’s treatment comes close. As the original trailer intones, the 1961 Oscar winner “grows younger” each year — especially in this lush transfer complete with 5.1 sound, which helps the years fall away. The docu “West Side Memories” is one of the best yet produced on disc, coaxing even the hermitic Stephen Sondheim to reminisce about the chaotic shoot. Regrettably, however, there are glitches. The docu, which is the bulk of the bonus material thanks to a conspicuous lack of commentary tracks, dodges the issue of race. How can a 2003 viewer not cringe at Natalie Wood’s not-so-preety accent?
Hefty physical package favors quantity over quality. The shooting script and lobby brochure are cool curios, as is a new introduction by screenwriter Ernest Lehman. But the effect is filler, not serious archival study. And it seems a crime not to have an objective commentator appraise the film anew, especially in light of “Chicago” and “Moulin Rouge” reinvigorating the genre.