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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 67,517 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 opening sequence took place on West 68 Street (between Amsterdam Ave. & West End Ave.). However, the Back-drop of the schoolyard sequence is incorrect. The Rectory (rear) of St Matthews Church was, in fact, on 68 Street not 110 Street. See more »


The door of Doc's store has a screen to keep out thieves, but the windows do not. 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

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


Version of Romeo and Juliet (1976) See more »


(1957) (uncredited)
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Performed by Rita Moreno, Suzie Kaye, George Chakiris, Yvonne Wilder, 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.

72 of 106 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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