Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The West Point Story


Two New York gangs, the white boy Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks, compete for the same turf while singing and dancing to the music of Leonard Bernstein and the lyrics of Stephen Sondheim … wait a minute, that doesn’t sound right. Where are my notes? Oh, yeah, looks like I misfiled them. Okay, then … Jimmy Cagney is a Broadway director who is on the skids and persuaded to direct the annual show at West Point. To do this, he must become a cadet and endure the massive bullshit all cadets go through. I never quite got why the old fellow had to become a cadet, but never mind. They probably explained it sometime while I was snoozing. Which is a good thing to do until they get to the musical numbers. Doris Day is good, near the beginning of her career. Gordon MacRae sings several songs. He was just starting his movie career, and seems to have been very hot, making five movies in 1950. His sidekick is Gene Nelson, the dancer who would be with him again as Will in Oklahoma! It’s all very corny—and who knew all those cadets could hoof it like that?—but it’s worth it for Cagney’s explosive energy, both acting and dancing. He felt he did his very best dancing in the final scene here. I wouldn’t argue.