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
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 »
Tony's arm jumps up from his side between shots at the end of the balcony scene. See more »
[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]
[snaps fingers at Bernardo]
[Bernardo drops the ball, Riff picks it up]
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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 »
As a now 50-year old, I first saw 'West Side Story' when I was about 7. It may have been the first movie I ever saw outside home (actually at a drive-in--remember those?), and it's certainly the most memorable of movies I saw during that time of my life (although 'The Wizard of Oz' and 'The Music Man' are right up there too). In fact, as I watch the DVD now, I'm reminded why when asked, I typically cite it as my favorite movie of all time. The story is hundreds of years old, and now with the onset of drive-by shootings, the threat to the community presented by the Jets and Sharks seems a little dated, but then there's the amazing Bernstein score, and the fabulous Robbins' choreography, heartbreaking songs by Sondheim like "One Hand, One Heart" and "I Have a Love," innovative camera work by director Robert Wise, and unforgettable performances by the luminous Natalie Wood and the phenomenal Rita Moreno.
I'm not old enough to have seen the original Broadway play, but I saw a recent revival, and the movie even improves on the play by moving a couple of musical numbers around so they fit better with the plot. Great movie musicals are few and far between these days ('Chicago' sold well--I couldn't quite deal with Richard Gere as a song and dance man); I wish there was another 'West Side Story' in store to entertain me for the next 50 years of my life.
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