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
The "America" sequence on stage was conceived as a duet between Anita and Rosalia. For the film, it was altered to be one between Anita and Bernardo. See more »
Riff changes position in his chair between shots when the Jets and Sharks are sitting down for the War Council. 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 »
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.
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