‘Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It’ review: The ‘West Side Story’ star and EGOT winner shines in a new ‘American Masters’ documentary

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Moreno is within the choose group EGOT winners — individuals who have earned an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. Now 89, she’s launched within the movie at a celebration celebrating her 87th birthday, providing a fast demonstration of what a power of nature she stays. (She additionally stays outspoken, having waded into the controversy over “Within the Heights” whereas showing on Stephen Colbert’s program.)
As for her accomplishments — together with an Academy Award for “West Aspect Story,” and a task in its upcoming remake from Steven Spielberg — producer Norman Lear, who featured Moreno in his reboot of “One Day at a Time,” says, “I can not consider anybody I’ve ever met within the enterprise who lived the American dream extra.”

But as director Mariem PĂ©rez Riera’s crisply made movie makes clear, for the little woman who moved from Puerto Rico to New York along with her mom as a toddler, fulfilling that dream meant overcoming all of the impediments thrown at her, and enduring the indignities that went with being an actress of colour — even one who consciously sought to resemble Elizabeth Taylor when she auditioned as an adolescent — throughout these years.

Moreno met with studio mogul Louis B. Mayer at age 16, impressing him sufficient to land a studio contract. However these years got here with being “handled like a intercourse object,” as she recollects, which included being despatched on “faux dates” with actors by the studio’s publicity division and being solid in an assortment of “native woman” roles that prompted her to excellent an all-purpose accent.

“I needed to show the elements down, however that is all that was provided,” Moreno says, noting that the message from her bosses got here by way of “loud and clear: Shut up and be attractive.”

Being attractive additionally meant being crudely propositioned by Columbia Photos boss Harry Cohn (fleeing a celebration to keep away from him) and, she says, being raped by her agent — a narrative she shares whereas watching protection of Supreme Courtroom Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings in 2018, snapping tart commentary on the TV.

Not like Rita Hayworth, who masked her cultural id, Moreno turned it into an asset with “West Aspect Story,” though even her acclaimed position in that film did not open the floodgates as one might need anticipated. The paucity of worthwhile elements pressured her to maintain reinventing herself, from her Tony-winning stage position in “The Ritz” to TV work starting from youngsters’s collection “The Electrical Firm,” whose album earned her a Grammy, to the grim jail drama “Oz.”

Off display, Moreno engaged in activism that included the civil-rights motion and endured a prolonged and poisonous romance with Marlon Brando. Clips from her position reverse Brando within the 1969 film “The Night time of the Following Day” tackle a special hue listening to her talk about their dysfunctional relationship and the emotional scars she bore from it.

Produced by, amongst others, Lear and “Hamilton’s” Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Only a Woman Who Determined to Go For It” conveys the highs and lows of Moreno’s life, whereas that includes an astute lineup of speaking heads, together with teachers, friends like “West Aspect Story” co-star George Chakiris and Karen Olivo, who performed the Anita position on Broadway. These conversations take into account the battles nonetheless being fought — underscored by the “Within the Heights” colorism debate — in addition to the extent to which subsequent generations owe a debt to Moreno’s struggles and triumphs.

The web impact is a tribute to all that Moreno achieved over the course of a 70-year profession, tempered by an equally bittersweet asterisk: How excessive would this “woman” have flown, given her skills, with out dealing with these formidable headwinds?

“Rita Moreno: Only a Woman Who Determined to Go For It” premieres in theaters on June 18.

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