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West Side Story (1961)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Musical | 23 December 1961 (Japan)
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Two youngsters from rival New York City gangs fall in love, but tensions between their respective friends build toward tragedy.

Writers:

Ernest Lehman (screenplay), Arthur Laurents (book) | 1 more credit »
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Popularity
1,410 ( 195)
Won 10 Oscars. Another 18 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Natalie Wood ... Maria
Richard Beymer ... Tony
Russ Tamblyn ... Riff
Rita Moreno ... Anita
George Chakiris ... Bernardo
Simon Oakland ... Schrank
Ned Glass ... Doc
William Bramley William Bramley ... Krupke
Tucker Smith ... Ice
Tony Mordente ... Action
David Winters ... A-rab
Eliot Feld ... Baby John
Bert Michaels ... Snowboy
David Bean David Bean ... Tiger
Robert Banas Robert Banas ... Joyboy
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

"BEST PICTURE!" Winner of 10 Academy Awards! - 1961 (post-Oscar) See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

23 December 1961 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

West Side Story See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$207,145, 24 June 2018

Gross USA:

$44,055,492

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$44,061,777
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (35 mm magnetic prints)| 70 mm 6-Track (Westrex Recording System) (70 mm prints)| Mono (35 mm optical prints)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In 2010, Stephen Sondheim (who wrote the lyrics) told "Fresh Air" interviewer Terry Gross that while he was writing the stage musical, he originally wanted the show to be the first one in Broadway history to use the words "fuck" and "shit" in its song lyrics. He wanted the end of the song "Gee, Officer Krupke" to be "Gee, Officer Krupke/Fuck you!" (instead of what it became, which is "Gee, Officer Krupke/Krup you!"), and he wanted the lyrics in "The Jets Song" to be "When you're a Jet/If the shit hits the fan" instead of "When you're a Jet/If the spit hits the fan". However, the show's writers were informed that if the Original Cast Album contained those profanities, it would have been illegal to ship the record across state lines. So Sondheim made the substitutions for those words that appear in both the stage show and the movie. See more »

Goofs

In the opening number, which was shot on location in NYC, the playground is easily 300 feet x 300 feet in size. Later on, when it is obvious they were on the studio back lot, the playground has shrunk to around 30 feet by 30 feet. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Alternate Versions

In 2011, as part of the 50th Anniversary Blu-Ray release, a new score, closer to the original theatrical version, was orchestrated by the Leonard Bernstein Estate. It was performed live by the Los Angeles and New York Philharmonics at screenings with the original score excised. (The original vocals were retained.) The New York performance was at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall, built atop the movie's filming locations. See more »

Connections

Referenced in SeaChange: Sex, Death and Bridges (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
In An Era of Great Musicals, "West Side Story" Was Among the Best
3 September 2005 | by writerasfilmcriticSee all my reviews

When they say they don't make movies like they used to, this is the sort of film they are talking about. Despite its flaws (and there are some), it is easily one of the best musicals ever made. Beginning with the overture and the opening scenes of New York City, circa 1960, it almost screams "classic." Some have criticized Natalie Wood's Maria (her dubious accent and the dubbed-in singing) or Richard Beymer's Tony (his slightly smarmy interpretation of the ex gang member gone straight), but the fact remains, their wholesome, fresh-faced characterizations defined the roles. And you simply can't top the film's instrumental score, its great songs ("Maria," "Tonight," "America," "I Feel Pretty," "A Place For Us," "I Have a Love," and "Officer Krupke"), its excellent choreography, or its very effective cinematography. Rita Moreno, as Anita, delivers what was probably her best performance in the movies, in particular her dancing and singing in "America," while Russ Tamblyn, as Rif, the charismatic leader of the Jets, is seldom given the credit he deserved. Natalie Wood on the rooftop, anticipating another meeting with her newfound love, is a vision of grace and innocence, while George Chakiris as her brother Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks, is very convincing as the persecuted immigrant/mean-spirited hoodlum. And its not as if these are the only actors who did a great job. A number of the other supporting roles are delivered with memorable professionalism, too. In fact, the cast as a whole is superb.

This movie poignantly (if simplistically) explores the purity of first love, while tackling intolerance and racism head-on, avoiding the tired, politically correct clichés that movies of today too often wallow in. Despite the simplicity of the story, it is always an emotional experience, no matter how many times you've seen it. While it is true that the Academy Awards have become very politicized, and no doubt always were to a degree, this movie snagged ten of them when great movies were being turned out almost as often as mindless pap is today. Not to be missed.


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