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West Side Story (1961)

Unrated  |   |  Crime, Drama, Musical  |  23 December 1961 (Japan)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 67,487 users  
Reviews: 305 user | 113 critic

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


(screenplay), (book), 2 more credits »
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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


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


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?


The film ran in Paris for a grand total of 249 weeks, making it the longest running film in French history. See more »


There are several instances of gang members (most notably the Jets) mouthing the wrong words during the songs. 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 What to Expect When You're Expecting (2012) See more »


America, My Country 'Tis of Thee
(1832) (uncredited)
Music attributed to Henry Carey ("God Save the King!") (1744)
Whistled by The Sharks as they leave the candy store
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

In An Era of Great Musicals, "West Side Story" Was Among the Best
3 September 2005 | by (western US) – See 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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