West Side Story (1961) Poster


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  • Essentially a modernized version of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story resets the tale of star-crossed lovers Maria (Natalie Wood) and Tony (Richard Beymer) to the gang-ridden streets of West Side Manhattan. Tony is the ex-leader of the Jets and still maintains his friendship with Riff (Russ Tamblyn), the new leader. Maria's brother Bernardo (George Chakiris) belongs to the Sharks, a Puerto Rican gang and sworn rivals of the Jets. The rivalry between the gangs explodes when they agree to "rumble" for ultimate control of the streets. Initially, the rumble is to consist of one-on-one fair fighting with no weapons, but when knives are pulled out, everything goes downhill. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • West Side Story was based on a 1957 Broadway play written by American playwright Arthur Laurents, composer Leonard Bernstein, lyricist Stephen Sondheim and choreographer Jerome Robbins who, in turn, based it on William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. The play was adapted for the film by American screenwriter Ernest Lehman. The movie won the 1962 Academy Award for Best Motion Picture. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Both Natalie Wood (who played Maria) and Richard Beymer (who played Tony) were 23 at the time of the filming. In Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet, the young couple were around 14, but the ages of Maria and Tony are never referenced. They are presumably in their mid-to-late teens. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Yes, of course, Romeo and Juliet is in the public domain. The text can be downloaded for free from Project Gutenberg. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • No. Natalie Wood's singing voice was courtesy of Marni Nixon, and Jimmy Bryant did the vocals for Richard Beymer. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Maria and Tony agree to meet at Doc's (Ned Glass) store in hopes of borrowing some money so that they can run away together. However, Lieutenant Shrank (Simon Oakland) stops by to question Maria about events at the dance the other night. Suspecting that Shrank's interrogation might take some time, she asks Anita (Rita Moreno) to go to Doc's to pick up some headache medication and to deliver the message that she will be detained (or she would have picked it up herself). When Anita enters the store, she finds it filled with Jets. She tries to see Doc or Tony, but the Jets begin to harass her, tossing her from Jet to Jet until Doc suddenly comes in and orders them to stop. In anger, Anita delivers a different message: Chino (Jose De Vega) shot and killed Maria when he found out about her and Tony. When Doc delivers the message to Tony, who is hiding in the basement, Tony goes ballistic and runs through the streets and playground yelling for Chino to come and get him, too. He sees Maria on the other side of the playground. They rush into each others' arms, but Chino suddenly appears and shoots Tony. As both Sharks and Jets begin gathering around them, Tony dies in Maria's arms, while she sings a few lines from Somewhere to him. She then takes the gun from Chino and points it at various members of the gangs, threatening to shoot as many of them as possible while still keeping a bullet for herself. "I can kill, too", she says, "because now I have hate!" As the police arrive, Maria drops the gun and falls to the ground, crying. She refuses to let Shrank touch Tony's body, and rushes to his side. She kisses Tony's lips, saying, "Te adoro, Anton" ("I love you, Tony"). In the final scene, members of both the Sharks and the Jets lift up Tony's body and carry it off the playground. Maria kneels there until one of the Jets places her scarf over her head to show she is in mourning, and then Maria rises as she and the rest of the gang members disperse peacefully. Edit (Coming Soon)


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