West Side Story (1961)

Not Rated   |    |  Crime, Drama, Musical


West Side Story (1961) Poster

Two youngsters from rival New York City gangs fall in love, but tensions between their respective friends build toward tragedy.

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7.6/10
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  • West Side Story (1961)
  • Linwood G. Dunn in West Side Story (1961)
  • "West Side Story," Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer. 1961/UA
  • George Chakiris and Russ Tamblyn in West Side Story (1961)
  • Rita Moreno and George Chakiris at an event for West Side Story (1961)
  • West Side Story (1961)

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews


15 February 2005 | movibuf1962
A 70-millimeter delight.
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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Did You Know?

Trivia

Russ Tamblyn (Riff) was dubbed for "The Jet Song" by Tucker Smith, who played Ice, his lieutenant in the movie.


Quotes

Riff: Come on.
Riff: Beat it.


Goofs

After the war council, Schrank says that he rebuked the Jets the same day. That means that all events before the war council were on that day too. The dance started at 10 PM, and that leaves very little time for America, the balcony scene and the war council.


Crazy Credits

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.


Alternate Versions

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.


Soundtracks

The Rumble
(1957) (uncredited)
Composed by
Leonard Bernstein

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Crime | Drama | Musical | Romance

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