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West Side Story (1961)

Unrated | | Crime, Drama, Musical | 23 December 1961 (Japan)
Two youngsters from rival New York City gangs fall in love, but tensions between their respective friends build toward tragedy.

Writers:

(screenplay), (book) | 1 more credit »
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Popularity
1,365 ( 45)

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Won 10 Oscars. Another 18 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Doc
William Bramley ...
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Ice
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Bert Michaels ...
David Bean ...
Tiger
Robert Banas ...
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Storyline

West Side Story is the award-winning adaptation of the classic romantic tragedy, "Romeo and Juliet". The feuding families become two warring New York City gangs- the white Jets led by Riff and the Puerto Rican Sharks, led by Bernardo. Their hatred escalates to a point where neither can coexist with any form of understanding. But when Riff's best friend (and former Jet) Tony and Bernardo's younger sister Maria meet at a dance, no one can do anything to stop their love. Maria and Tony begin meeting in secret, planning to run away. Then the Sharks and Jets plan a rumble under the highway - whoever wins gains control of the streets. Maria sends Tony to stop it, hoping it can end the violence. It goes terribly wrong, and before the lovers know what's happened, tragedy strikes and doesn't stop until the climactic and heartbreaking ending. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

"BEST PICTURE!" Winner of 10 Academy Awards! - 1961 (post-Oscar) See more »


Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

23 December 1961 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Amor sin barreras  »

Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$43,650,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(35 mm magnetic prints)| (Westrex Recording System) (70 mm prints)| (35 mm optical prints)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Marni Nixon (who dubbed for Natalie Wood) had to do the end of quintet for Rita Moreno. The reason was that Betty Wand and Moreno both had colds and could not sing, so the filmmakers asked Nixon to do the end. So she is singing two voices at once. See more »

Goofs

The Jets sing "The Jets are gonna have their day tonight. The Jets are gonna have their way tonight". One of the voices sings "way" instead of "day" in the first line, so the result sounds like "dway". See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[the Jets dance across the streets of New York, eventually coming to a playground where they toss around a basketball. The ball is intercepted by Bernardo, leader of the Sharks]
Riff: [snaps fingers at Bernardo] Come on.
[Bernardo drops the ball, Riff picks it up]
Riff: Beat it.
See more »

Crazy Credits

There are no opening credits; a red tinted aerial still of Manhattan with the title is shown as the overture plays. As the overture ends, the red tint is removed and the shot segues to aerial photography of Manhattan streets and landmarks. See more »

Connections

Version of Romeo and Juliet (1947) See more »

Soundtracks

Jet Song
(1957) (uncredited)
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Performed by Tucker Smith, Russ Tamblyn, Bert Michaels, and The Jets
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
An Uncompromisingly Great film
5 February 2005 | by (Sydney, Australia) – See all my reviews

Although I think I've seen just about every musical there is from the forties to the seventies, I'd never seen West Side Story until last night. An amazing omission on my part, as having seen it, I just think it's simply wonderful.

I bought the DVD "on spec" in a CD/DVD exchange store in Sydney for $10. I've had it in my hand a couple of times before but have always put it back on the shelf. This time I went through with the purchase and am now wondering what could have come over me, not buying it before.

Those here who have said you really need to watch it on the Big Screen are absolutely right. In my case I watched it using a video projector throwing the image, big, bright and beautiful, onto a 12 foot screen. The photography used the wide screen format uncompromisingly. There was no caution here to frame the action for possible television cropping, or even much consideration given to a 2.35:1 "Cinemascope" presentation. Super Panavision's aspect ratio is not as wide as Cinemascope's 2.35:1, and every square inch of screen space was used for one or another important element of composition.

Bernstein's music is a tour de force. Having watched On The Town only a few days back, it was interesting to contrast the two musicals. On The town is, of course, 15 years or so older than West side Story, but a comparison between the two scores is chalk and cheese. You could tell that Bernstein was holding himself back in On The Town. It wasn't his project. The numbers were almost self-censored. But West side Story was his baby, and it shows.

The sheer brilliance of the music, the enchanting daring of it, its raucous atonality coupled with sweetness of melody are awesomely impressive, as show-stopper after show-stopper is thrown onto the screen to continually up the amazement quotient, time after time.

I played West Side Story loud, very loud. The surround sound knocked my socks off from the opening aerial ambiance of Manhattan streets to the orchestrations themselves. I remember Bernstein in the documentary about the concert version of West Side Story saying, aside to the camera, after "Cool, Boy" was recorded, "You know, this is pretty good..." One of the great understatements, even if coming from the music's creator.

See this film. Play it loud. Watch it on a big screen if you can. If you do you may, like I did, sit there thrilled, swinging your head from one side of the Super Panavision screen to the other, trying to take in the overwhelming avalanche coming at your eyes, your ears and your heart. It was an almost perfect transfer from film to DVD: color, sharpness, depth.

It's been a long while since I've watched a film with a silly grin on my face right through, sometimes gasping at the sheer knock-out brilliance of what film-making can be at its best. West Side Story was one of those times.


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