On the Joys and Pitfalls of Online Shopping: The Saga of the ‘West Side Story’ Steelbook – All’s Well That Ends Well

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It’s only just out of reach

Down the block, on a beach

Under a tree. –  Stephen Sondheim, “Something’s Coming,” West Side Story

Well, Dear Reader, after all the angst, all the aggravation, and all the chats with Best Buy customer service reps online, the West Side Story Limited Edition Steelbook incident had a happy ending.

At 3:39 PM Eastern Daylight Time, on a sunny, muggy Florida spring afternoon, UPS delivered my Next Day Air package with my Best Buy Exclusive Limited Edition two-disc (one 4K UHD Blu-ray, one 1080p HD Blu-ray) set in a collectible steelbook case.

The first thing I did was to remove the plastic wrapping and the J-card from the steelbook and inspect the steelbook for any damage. You know, like scratches, dents, or a bent spine. Thankfully, the folks at Best Buy and UPS handled the product with due care, so I have no issues with the condition of my Limited Edition steelbook set of 2021’s West Side Story.

The exclusive-to-Best Buy steelbook of Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story.’ (C) 2022 20th Century Studios and Buena Vista Home Entertainment

I also opened the steelbook carefully to see if the discs were secure in their storage space. One of the complaints that collectors make on Blu-ray.com is that often – not always, but more times than necessary – customers receive box sets or steelbook packages that rattle when you take them out of the mailer package or box they come in.

My package did not make any rattle-rattle sounds when I picked up the Next Day mailer and opened it by the kitchen island, so when I carefully opened the lid of the colorful, almost Saul Bass-like steelbook, the discs stayed in their storage part of the 135 mm × 171.5 mm × 13 mm case. So…one less issue to worry about.

The insert with the digital copy/Disney Movie Insiders code was there as well; I’ll probably redeem it later, if only to add Disney Movie Insiders points to my account. (I already redeemed the code that came with my Target Art Edition set.)

Why I Bought Three Different Packaging Versions

So why did I order three variants of West Side Story (2021) – the steelbook, the Art Edition, and the Ultimate Collector’s Edition, especially if the content in the 4K UHD and the 1080p Blu-ray discs is the same in all three sets?

I think it’s because at some point after 1972 – the year that my small family unit of Mom, my older half-sister, and I moved back to Miami after a six-year stay in Bogota, Colombia – I heard an instrumental version of “Tonight” on the radio. I couldn’t tell you where, exactly; it might have been as Muzak in Dadeland Mall – we used to shop there, especially when my maternal grandparents visited – or on Miami’s WLYF 101.5 FM radio station, which at the time played the “beautiful music” and easy-listening format. I can, however, tell you that I fell in love with the song. I asked my mom about it, and she told me it was from a musical called West Side Story.

At the time, the home video market did not exist, and I don’t think West Side Story was broadcast on any network before the 1990s. So my next exposure to the Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim/Arthur Laurents/Jerome Robbins creation was when I joined South Miami High’s male ensemble and we performed “Gee, Officer Krupke” from the Broadway show’s second act,

Like director Steven Spielberg, I fell in love with West Side Story after – spurred on by the many practice sessions of the Krupke number in my first-period chorus class – I acquired the 1957 Original Cast Recording of the stage version. At first, I focused on “Tonight” and “Gee, Officer Krupke,” but then I listened closely to all of the other songs and orchestral numbers, especially “Something’s Coming,” “Maria,’ and the “Tonight (Quintet),” which is one of the most musically complex songs I have ever heard.  

(C) 1961 United Artists/The Mirisch Company/MGM

I eventually watched the Robert Wise/Jerome Robbins film adaptation from 1961, more than likely on Miami’s Channel 2 (the primary PBS affiliate) or maybe on the Turner Movie Channel sometime in the 1990s, and when West Side Story (1961) was released on VHS tape, I bought it for my mother for either her birthday (October 17) or Christmas. Or maybe it was for Mother’s Day. Later, several years after my half-sister appropriated Mom’s VCR after her own machine died, I replaced Mom’s now-useless videotape with the 50th Anniversary DVD set – a box set with two discs and a booklet with the complete screenplay by Ernest Lehman.

The author and his mother at a neighbor’s Thanksgiving party circa 2008. (Author’s personal collection.)

By then, Mom was sick – in 2012 she was battling various illnesses, including dementia – but was still able to watch movies, so I watched West Side Story (1961) with her at least once before she died in July 2015. As with all of the other titles in my mother’s modest collection of DVDs and Blu-rays, I ended up inheriting that two-DVD set of West Side Story.

Late last year – as I wrote in my review of the Wise-Robbins WSS, I purchased the Blu-ray edition in anticipation of seeing the Spielberg “reimagining” of the Tony Award-winning 1957 classic. As I recall, I watched the ’61 West Side Story in January, but because I had no easy way to go to the closest theater where Spielberg’s WSS was playing, I had to make do with getting the soundtrack album, the making-of book, and watching it with the Caregiver and her boyfriend via Disney+ on the family TV set in the common room.  

I suppose I have a strong emotional attachment to some movies – Star Wars, Superman: The Movie, Jaws, and Raiders of the Lost Ark come to mind – and West Side Story is one of those that I am passionate about. Add to that my affinity for the talented Mr. Spielberg, and you’ll get why I bought three variants of the same movie, even though the only difference lies in the packaging.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s an obsession. Maybe it’s because I loved performing “Gee, Officer Krupke” in 10th grade and acquired a taste for Broadway musicals. Who knows?

It’s only just out of reach

Down the block, on a beach

Maybe tonight

Maybe tonight

Maybe tonight! – Stephen Sondheim, “Something’s Coming,” West Side Story

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

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