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
Chita Rivera originated the role of Anita when West Side Story premiered at New York's Winter Garden Theatre (September 26, 1957). Rita Moreno later played Anita in the film adaptation of the show. See more »
At the end of the film hard-nosed policeman Schrank lets witnesses and perpetrators simply walk away from a murder scene. 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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The credits at the end of the movie appear as graffiti on street signs. See more »
As a now 50-year old, I first saw 'West Side Story' when I was about 7. It may have been the first movie I ever saw outside home (actually at a drive-in--remember those?), and it's certainly the most memorable of movies I saw during that time of my life (although 'The Wizard of Oz' and 'The Music Man' are right up there too). In fact, as I watch the DVD now, I'm reminded why when asked, I typically cite it as my favorite movie of all time. The story is hundreds of years old, and now with the onset of drive-by shootings, the threat to the community presented by the Jets and Sharks seems a little dated, but then there's the amazing Bernstein score, and the fabulous Robbins' choreography, heartbreaking songs by Sondheim like "One Hand, One Heart" and "I Have a Love," innovative camera work by director Robert Wise, and unforgettable performances by the luminous Natalie Wood and the phenomenal Rita Moreno.
I'm not old enough to have seen the original Broadway play, but I saw a recent revival, and the movie even improves on the play by moving a couple of musical numbers around so they fit better with the plot. Great movie musicals are few and far between these days ('Chicago' sold well--I couldn't quite deal with Richard Gere as a song and dance man); I wish there was another 'West Side Story' in store to entertain me for the next 50 years of my life.
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