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West Side Story (1961)

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Two youngsters from rival New York City gangs fall in love, but tensions between their respective friends build toward tragedy.

Writers:

Ernest Lehman (screenplay), Arthur Laurents (book) | 1 more credit »
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Popularity
1,637 ( 128)
Won 10 Oscars. Another 18 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Natalie Wood ... Maria
Richard Beymer ... Tony
Russ Tamblyn ... Riff
Rita Moreno ... Anita
George Chakiris ... Bernardo
Simon Oakland ... Schrank
Ned Glass ... Doc
William Bramley William Bramley ... Krupke
Tucker Smith ... Ice
Tony Mordente ... Action
David Winters ... A-rab
Eliot Feld ... Baby John
Bert Michaels Bert Michaels ... Snowboy
David Bean David Bean ... Tiger
Robert Banas Robert Banas ... Joyboy
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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:

The Screen Achieves One of the Great Entertainments in the History of Motion Pictures See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

23 December 1961 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

Amor sin barreras See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$43,656,822
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (35 mm magnetic prints)| 70 mm 6-Track (Westrex Recording System) (70 mm prints)| Mono (35 mm optical prints)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A major controversy developed because Carol Lawrence, who played Maria in the stage version, was passed over for the role in favor of Natalie Wood. See more »

Goofs

In the final scene there is a male onlooker dressed in blue on the left near Schrank's car. In the next wide shot he is standing on the right near the uniformed police car 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 »

Alternate Versions

The Special Limited Edition DVD released by MGM in 2003 restores an intermission that was intended to be included in the original roadshow version but was subsequently dropped in order to create what the filmmakers termed a "rising tension" in the story. The intermission sequence was supposed to have taken place right before the song 'I Feel Pretty' and brings the film's total running time to more than 152 minutes. This break was used, however, for the film's first television showing in 1972 on NBC. It was broadcast in two installments, one each on separate nights, the first part ending at the break, and the second part beginning at the "I Feel Pretty" sequence. 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

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User Reviews

 
In An Era of Great Musicals, "West Side Story" Was Among the Best
3 September 2005 | by writerasfilmcriticSee all my reviews

When they say they don't make movies like they used to, this is the sort of film they are talking about. Despite its flaws (and there are some), it is easily one of the best musicals ever made. Beginning with the overture and the opening scenes of New York City, circa 1960, it almost screams "classic." Some have criticized Natalie Wood's Maria (her dubious accent and the dubbed-in singing) or Richard Beymer's Tony (his slightly smarmy interpretation of the ex gang member gone straight), but the fact remains, their wholesome, fresh-faced characterizations defined the roles. And you simply can't top the film's instrumental score, its great songs ("Maria," "Tonight," "America," "I Feel Pretty," "A Place For Us," "I Have a Love," and "Officer Krupke"), its excellent choreography, or its very effective cinematography. Rita Moreno, as Anita, delivers what was probably her best performance in the movies, in particular her dancing and singing in "America," while Russ Tamblyn, as Rif, the charismatic leader of the Jets, is seldom given the credit he deserved. Natalie Wood on the rooftop, anticipating another meeting with her newfound love, is a vision of grace and innocence, while George Chakiris as her brother Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks, is very convincing as the persecuted immigrant/mean-spirited hoodlum. And its not as if these are the only actors who did a great job. A number of the other supporting roles are delivered with memorable professionalism, too. In fact, the cast as a whole is superb.

This movie poignantly (if simplistically) explores the purity of first love, while tackling intolerance and racism head-on, avoiding the tired, politically correct clichés that movies of today too often wallow in. Despite the simplicity of the story, it is always an emotional experience, no matter how many times you've seen it. While it is true that the Academy Awards have become very politicized, and no doubt always were to a degree, this movie snagged ten of them when great movies were being turned out almost as often as mindless pap is today. Not to be missed.


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