Hollywood might be considered the movie capital of the world, but there’s no denying how vital New York City has been to the filmmaking industry as a setting for some of the most iconic scenes in cinematic history.
For example, did you know Marilyn Monroe’s famous scene in the 1955 romantic comedy The Seven Year Itch (where her dress blows up on a subway grate) takes place at 52nd Street and Lexington Avenue? Then there’s the handful of memorable Empire State Building scenes everyone remembers – from 1930’s original classic King Kong to 1993’s rom-com Sleepless in Seattle.
Latinx films, too, have used New York City as a backdrop for some of the great cinematic scenes of the last few decades. That’s why NY Lottery and its $1,000,000 Premiere Scratch-Off Game along with Fandango are revisiting some of the most iconic Latinx film locations in NYC in their new Scouting Nueva York Series with film critic Jack Rico.
Rico begins his tour through the five boroughs in East Harlem at 208 110th Street – the location where some of the 1961 Oscar-winning musical West Side Story was filmed. Production had to move to Spanish Harlem when the original location went under construction.
Adapted from the 1957 Broadway musical of the same name, West Side Story, which was inspired by William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet, follows Maria (Natalie Wood) and Tony (Richard Beymer), two youngsters from rival gangs in New York, who fall in love. The Jets, a white gang, are led by Tony’s best friend Riff (Russ Tamblyn). The Sharks, a Puerto Rican gang, are led by Maria’s older brother Bernardo (George Chakiris).
During the first Scouting Nueva York episode sponsored by NY Lottery, Rico takes viewers to the playground where the Jets meet the Sharks for the first time in the movie. We can almost hear snapping fingers as the two rival gangs get ready to rumble… and do a lot of dancing.
West Side Story won 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Writing, Best Music and Best Supporting Actress for Rita Moreno. Moreno’s win marked the first time a Latina won an Oscar. It’s notable, too, that although several of the characters in the film are Puerto Rican, many of them were played by white actors, including Wood’s Maria and Chakiris’ Bernardo.
“The film’s representation isn’t the best even though it centers around Puerto Ricans living in New York,” Rico explains.
In 1997, West Side Story was deemed “culturally significant” by the U.S. Library of Congress and added to the National Film Registry. Fans are now waiting attentively for the remake of the film from Oscar-winning director Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan), which will hit theaters in December. Until then, remember to “play it cool” like the Jets and purchase your $1,000,000 Premiere Scratch-Off Game from the NY Lottery today.