I don’t think West Side Story’s a good movie at all because it’s not a movie. It’s a photograph of a stage. When I see a gang of juvenile delinquents dancing down a real street, Broadway, in color coordinated sneakers, with color coordinated wash on the line behind them, I’m not scared.
Which film adaptation did meet with Sondheim’s approval? Tim Burton’s 2007 film of Sweeney Todd, starring Johnny Depp in the title role. Sondheim acknowledges that the Burton movie is not universally beloved, but he says that it’s superior to West Side Story because it was truly re-conceived as a movie rather than being simply a transplanted stage show.
Just a tiny tidbit- Jason Fraley of the Washington DC-based news station WTOP ranked the 50 Best Movie Musicals, and Sweeney Todd came in at 46. The bad news is that it was that far down on the list, but the good news is that it did make the cut as one of the "best." It beat Les Mis, Oklahoma, Hairspray, and Phantom Of the Opera (as well as anything that didn't even make the list). #1?? My personal fave, Singin' In The Rain