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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 67,534 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 "Al Wood" posters are in reference to Allen K. Wood, who was one of the production designers. See more »


Chino visits Maria on the rooftop, saying that there was no-one home. Maria tells that her parents are at work. Only a few moments afterwards we hear voices: "¡Mamá, Mamá! ¡Bernardo está muerto!" "¿Bernardo? ¿Muerto?", the latter apparently said by the mother. This post is actually incorecct. Maria says to Chino that her parents are at the store, not work. In addition, the building is populated by several families, not just Maria and Bernardo's. Had it been their mother talking to the boy at the bottom of the stairwell, there would have undoubtedly be more of an emotional response from the woman as Bernardo was her child as well. 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 »


Version of Romeo and Juliet (1936) See more »


(1957) (uncredited)
Composed by Leonard Bernstein
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

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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