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 Latino 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
Riff and Tony repeat an oath of loyalty to each other: Riff says "womb to tomb" and Tony answers "birth to earth." On stage Tony's original answer was "sperm to worm," but this was changed for the movie because it was beyond the censorship standards of the time. See more »
At the end of "America" the top of the backdrop can be seen in the upper right corner of the screen. 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 stylized, tinted aerial still of Manhattan is shown as the overture plays. The background changes color as the themes change throughout the overture. As the overture ends, the tinting is blue, the title appears, and the shot segues to aerial photography of Manhattan streets and landmarks. See more »
The Special Limited Edition DVD released by MGM in 2003 restores an intermission that was intended to be included in the original roadshow version but was subsequently dropped in order to create what the filmmakers termed a "rising tension" in the story. The intermission sequence was supposed to have taken place right before the song 'I Feel Pretty' and brings the film's total running time to more than 152 minutes. This break was used, however, for the film's first television showing in 1972 on NBC. It was broadcast in two installments, one each on separate nights, the first part ending at the break, and the second part beginning at the "I Feel Pretty" sequence. See more »
A triumph of song, dance, music, choreography, photography...
Viewing WEST SIDE STORY last night on TCM for the first time in years, I realized what an impact this made on film musicals with its innovative use of dazzling choreography and high-flying camera-work that made it a cinematic experience rather than a stage-bound one.
Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins directed this poignant and powerful musical with a talented cast of performers--Natalie Wood at her dewy-eyed loveliest as the Juliet-like heroine and Richard Beymer doing his best to bring some heart-felt passion to the role of the Romeo-like Tony, but he's too refined to be believable as an ex-gang member. At least he does have some chemistry with Natalie and obviously put his heart and soul into his performing. The voice dubbing for both is done skillfully, but I would have preferred a stronger voice for Beymer.
Rita Moreno (not Chita Rivera as another commentator named her) and George Chakiris are beyond reproach as Anita and Bernardo--and all of the gang members do superb footwork and acting as the Jets/Sharks. Most impressive is the actor playing Ice (Tucker Smith) who figures prominently in the finger-snapping "Cool" number.
This is the quintessential 1960s musical with some expert choreography (the rooftop version of "America" is a standout) and stellar work from everyone in the cast. Leonard Bernstein must have been proud of this film version of his Broadway musical. Robert Wise's firm control in blending the music with the "book" is craftsmanship at its finest.
By all means, a musical that deserved all of its Oscars!!
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