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West Side Story (1961)

Unrated  |   |  Crime, Drama, Musical  |  23 December 1961 (Japan)
7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 65,918 users  
Reviews: 303 user | 113 critic

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

Writers:

(screenplay), (book), 2 more credits »
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Title: West Side Story (1961)

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Won 10 Oscars. Another 20 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Musical

A remake of the 1961 film about rival gangs in New York City.

Director: Steven Spielberg
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Doc
William Bramley ...
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Ice
Tony Mordente ...
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Eliot Feld ...
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:

The Screen Achieves One of the Great Entertainments in the History of Motion Pictures 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
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In 2010, Stephen Sondheim (who wrote the lyrics) told "Fresh Air" interviewer Terry Gross that while he was writing the stage musical, he originally wanted the show to be the first one in Broadway history to use the words "fuck" and "shit" in its song lyrics. He wanted the end of the song "Gee, Officer Krupke" to be "Gee, Officer Krupke/Fuck you!" (instead of what it became, which is "Gee, Officer Krupke/Krup you!"), and he wanted the lyrics in "The Jets Song" to be "When you're a Jet/If the shit hits the fan" instead of "When you're a Jet/If the spit hits the fan". However, the show's writers were informed that if the Original Cast Album contained those profanities, it would have been illegal to ship the record across state lines. So Sondheim made the substitutions for those words that appear in both the stage show and the movie. See more »

Goofs

The length of Riff's cigarette in the lead up to the Jets song/dance. It starts out short and stubby, and just before they start singing and he flicks it away, it is much longer. 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

The credits at the end of the movie appear as graffiti on street signs. See more »

Connections

Spoofed in The Troops in New York (1965) See more »

Soundtracks

Quintet
(1957) (uncredited)
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Performed by Rita Moreno, Jimmy Bryant dubbing Richard Beymer, Marni Nixon dubbing Natalie Wood, Russ Tamblyn, Tucker Smith, George Chakiris, The Jets, and The Sharks
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
It could hardly have failed
23 July 1999 | by (Canberra, Australia) – See all my reviews

Note the opening credits. I use the term "credits" loosely, because there aren't any. There's just a reddish orangish title card which changes colour ever so slowly while they play the overture. Now THAT takes courage. Obviously Wise was certain that Bernstein's music provides so much interest on its own that it would have been redundant to do anything but play it. And he was right. Bernstein simply wrote better music than any other Broadway composer of his day - much better music - and whether or not "West Side Story" contains his very best music, it's his very best musical. It would take a special effort to make a bad movie out of it.

In fact Wise handles things very well. We get the same silent sweep over New York that he later gave us over Austria in "The Sound of Music" - the sweep that says, "I'm going to show you New York" (or Austria, as the case may be). The filming and the colours are stark and intentionally artificial: it does feel as if we are being shown a city. Performances are all fine.

Of course, most of what makes this film great was already present in the musical. But what's wrong with that? Surely Wise shouldn't HAVE to spin straw into gold. A wise man - sorry - just accepts it with good grace when he is handed gold to begin with.


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