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West Side Story (1961)

Unrated | | Crime, Drama, Musical | 23 December 1961 (Japan)
1:02 | Trailer

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


(screenplay), (book) | 1 more credit »
494 ( 1,588)
Won 10 Oscars. Another 18 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
William Bramley ...
Tony Mordente ...
Eliot Feld ...
Bert Michaels ...
David Bean ...
Robert Banas ...


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




Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

23 December 1961 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Amor sin barreras  »

Box Office


$6,000,000 (estimated)


$43,650,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

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



Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Jimmy Bryant was selected over every singer in the world to be the "ghost voice" for Richard Beymer. The producers flew people from all over the world to audition, putting them up at the Beverly Hills Hotel. When the producers decided to hire Jimmy, he was offered a contract at scale, which he took because he needed the money, desperately, at the time. Jimmy Bryant received residuals only for television replays. Inquiring about a Record Album residual, Saul Chaplin told Jimmy he had to deal directly with Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim since they kept those rights. Marni Nixon, a friend of Bernstein, flew her agent to New York to negotiate her deal. Marni Nixon made $18,000 in her first check. See more »


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 »


[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 »


Referenced in White Nights (1985) See more »


(1957) (uncredited)
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Performed by Richard Beymer (dubbed by Jimmy Bryant) and Natalie Wood (dubbed by Marni Nixon)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A 70-millimeter delight.
15 February 2005 | by (Washington, DC) – See all my reviews

I remember when this film ran on NBC television about 25 years ago. After being beefed up with commercials, it had to be shown in 2 parts over two nights. I only saw it in the theater once when I was about 12, and had forgotten many visuals which were cut off on the television screen. So let me just say that the smartest thing MGM-UA could do is present a widescreen, 70mm DVD. It has a gorgeous restored picture (important for visual effects like the dissolve of Natalie Wood spinning around in the bridal shop which blurs and multiplies and finally erupts into multiple dancers who converge at the gym, or the first time Tony and Maria see each other against the blur of the dance competition on opposite sides of the screen) and pristine sound- probably the most gorgeous score ever composed by Leonard Bernstein. There are, of course, stage purists who scoff at the movie (and its many ghost singers), but I always thought the film's adaptation was superior to the stage show because it gave the story a more breathless, one-act pace. Some songs are reshuffled and re-staged from the original libretto, and the background score is given something of a theatrical makeover. And the dancing, of course, is peerless-- whether it's the "Cool" dance with the Jets in a low-ceiling garage, the "America" battle of the sexes with the Sharks, or even the delicate rooftop dance performed in Act 2 by Natalie Wood- bewitching in a white dress and re-living the moment she first fell in love herself. None of these wonders can prepare you for the mind-numbing, emotional, climax.

A tour-de-force film show, clocking in at 152 minutes.

27 of 41 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Spielberg isn't the one to remake it. MattmanForever
Black Jets and White Sharks? bluesouptin
Dubbing All The Singing Voices Sox575
Dumb question but.... ilovetapioca
I saw the show on Broadway Maddy-17
Did anyone else feel that it should have been Maria who... elockehart
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