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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  • Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise in West Side Story (1961)
  • West Side Story (1961)
  • Linwood G. Dunn in West Side Story (1961)
  • George Chakiris and Russ Tamblyn in West Side Story (1961)
  • George Chakiris and Simon Oakland in West Side Story (1961)
  • Rita Moreno and George Chakiris at an event for West Side Story (1961)

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews

4 February 2000 | Xophianic
Not the BEST musical ever made, but good...
I had a lot of expectations for West Side Story since many called it the best musical of all time. Although I enjoyed it, I have to disagree. I don't think it was the best musical ever, I still think that JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR and THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA are far superior. But West Side Story did have some entertaining dancing and choreography, and some great music and singing as well.

WEST SIDE STORY is a modern (although now it's a little older) version of Romeo & Juliet, taking place in New York City. Two rival gangs, the Jets (the Americans) and the Sharks (the Hispanics) constantly battle for turf. Tony (Richard Beymer), former leader of the Jets, falls in love with Maria (Natalie Wood), the sister of Sharks' leader Bernardo (George Chakiris). They try to keep their love alive while the two gangs try to tear it apart, all the time singing songs and dancing.

The acting is not too great, but the singing and dancing is very good, and that's more important in a movie like this one. Aside from Tony, Maria, Bernardo and a select few more, most of the characters are very two-dimensional and boring. But all of them are only there to support the love story between Tony and Maria.

At times, I found this movie downright boring, and especially in the beginning-middle, I was not always paying attention. The ending is fairly good, and the beginning is a great start, but at times I was very unsatisfied with this movie. Still, it's great for the musical lover, and fair for the moviegoer. (But I still say go rent the movie version of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR.)

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Did You Know?


Although the producers tried to keep the different gangs separate during filming to create tension, Russ Tamblyn (Riff) said that he knew of at least one "Jet" who was roommates with a "Shark" through filming.


Riff: Come on.
Riff: Beat it.


Chino visits Maria on the rooftop, saying that there was no-one home. Maria tells that her parents are at work. Only a few moments afterwards we hear voices: "¡Mamá, Mamá! ¡Bernardo está muerto!" "¿Bernardo? ¿Muerto?", the latter apparently said by the mother. This post is actually incorrect. Maria says to Chino that her parents are at the store, not work. In addition, the building is populated by several families, not just Maria and Bernardo's. Had it been their mother talking to the boy at the bottom of the stairwell, there would have undoubtedly be more of an emotional response from the woman as Bernardo was her child as well.

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

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.


(1957) (uncredited)
Music by
Leonard Bernstein
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Performed by Rita Moreno, Suzie Kaye, George Chakiris, Yvonne Wilder, and The Sharks


Plot Summary

Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Crime | Drama | Musical | Romance

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