West Side Story (movie)

West Side Story is a 1961 American musical romantic drama movie directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins . The film is an adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical of the same name , which William Shakespeare ‘s play Romeo and Juliet . It stars Natalie Wood , Richard Beymer , Russ Tamblyn , Rita Moreno , and George Chakiris , and was photographed by Daniel L. Fapp , ASC, in Super Panavision 70. Released on October 18, 1961, United Artists , the film received high praise from critics and viewers, and became the second highest grossing film in the United States. The film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and Won 10, including Best Picture (as a special award for Robbins), becoming the record holder for the most wins for a musical movie.

The film has been deemed “culturally significant” by the United States Library of Congress and was selected for the National Film Registry in 1997. [2]


In the summer of 1957 in the West Side ‘s Lincoln Square neighborhood in Manhattan , there is tension between a white American gang, the Jets, led by Riff Lorton, and a Puerto Rican gang of immigrants , the Sharks, led by Bernardo Nunez. After a brawl erupts, Lieutenant Schrank and Officer Krupke arrives and breaks it up. The Jets decides to challenge the Sharks to a rumble at an upcoming dance for neighborhood control.

Riff decides that his best friend Tony Wyzek, the co-founder of the Jets who left the gang, should fight. Riff invites Tony to the dance, but Tony is uninterested. He tells Riff that he senses something important to happen, which Riff suggests he has a correlation with the dance.

Bernardo’s younger sister, Maria, tells her best friend and Bernardo’s girlfriend, Anita Palacio, how excited she is about the dance. At the dance, the gang and girls refuse to intermingle. Tony arrives and he and Maria fall in love. However, Bernardo angrily demands Tony stay away from her. Riff proposed a meeting with Bernardo at Doc’s drug store.

Maria is feeling home; Anita argues that Bernardo is overprotective of Maria and they compare the advantages of Puerto Rico and the United States.

Tony discreetly visits Maria on her fire escape, where they reaffirm their love. Krupke, who suspects the Jets are planning something, visits them and warns them not to cause trouble. When the Sharks arrive, both groups agree to have the showdown following the highway, with a one-on-one fist fight. When Schrank arrives, the gangs feign friendship. Schrank orders the Sharks out and unsuccessfully tries to discover information about the fight.

The next day at the bridal shop, Anita accidentally tells Maria about the rumble. Tony arrives to see Maria, which shocks Anita. They profess their love and Anita warns them about the consequences if Bernardo learns of their relationship. Maria has Tony promised to prevent the rumble. Tony and Maria fantasize about their wedding ceremony.

The Jets and Sharks approach the area under the highway. Tony arrives to stop the fight, but Bernardo antagonizes him. Unwilling to watch Tony be humiliated, Riff initiates a knife fight. Tony tries to intervene, which leads to Bernardo killing Riff. Tony kills Bernardo with Riff’s knife and a melee ensues. Police sirens blare and relax, leaving behind the dead bodies.

Maria waits for Tony on the rooftop of her apartment building when Chino Martin arrives and tells her what happened. Tony arrives and explains what transpired and asks for his forgiveness before he turns himself into the police. Maria confirms her love for him and asks Tony to stay with her.

The Jets have a new face, with their new leader, Ice having them focus on reacting to the police. Anybodys arrives and warns them that Chino is now after Tony. Ice sends the Jets to warn Tony.

After having sex, Maria and Tony arrange to meet at Doc’s, where they will pick up money so they can elope. Anita spots Tony leaving and chides Maria for the relationship, but Maria convinces her to help them elope.

Schrank arrives and questions Maria about the rumble. To cover for Tony, Maria has Anita tell him that Maria is detained from meeting him. When Anita reaches Doc’s, the Jets harass her, until Doc intervenes. Anita declares that Bernardo was right about them and that Chino killed Maria. Doc banishes the Jets and gives anita’s message and delivers anita’s message. Tony runs into the streets, shouting for Chino to kill him.

In the playground next to Doc’s, Tony spots Maria and run towards each other, only for Chino to shoot Tony. The Jets and Sharks arrives to find Maria holding Tony, who dies. Maria stops the gangs and takes the gun from Chino and threatens to shoot everyone, blaming their hate for the deaths. Schrank, Krupke and Doc arrives and the gang forms a funeral procession, with Maria following. The police arrest Chino and lead him away.


  • Natalie Wood as Maria Nunez, Bernardo’s younger sister, Chino’s fiancee , who falls in love with Tony
    • Marni Nixon and Maria singing voice
  • Richard Beymer and Tony Wyzek, co-founder of the Jets but has outgrown their street culture. Remains best friend of Riff, works at Doc’s drug store, and becomes Maria’s star-crossed lover.
    • Jimmy Bryant as Tony’s singing voice
  • Russ Tamblyn as Riff Lorton, leader of the Jets, best friend of Tony
  • Rita Moreno as Anita Palacio, Bernardo’s girlfriend, Maria’s closest confidante
    • Betty Wand as Anita singing voice for “A Boy Like That” (Moreno did her own singing for “America” ​​and “Quintet”)
  • George Chakiris as Bernardo Nunez, leader of the Sharks, older brother of Maria and Anita’s boyfriend
  • Simon Oakland as Lieutenant Schrank, police lieutenant
  • Ned Glass as Doc, drugstore owner, Tony’s boss; a decent, elderly man
  • William Bramley as Officer Krupke, neighborhood cop and Schrank’s sergeant


  • John Astin as Glad Hand, well-meaning but ineffective social worker
  • Penny Santon and Madam Lucia, bridal shop owner


  • Tucker Smith as Ice, Riff’s Lieutenant, becomes leader of the Jets after Riff’s death.
  • Tony Mordente has Action, a hot-tempered Jet.
  • Eliot Feld as Baby John, the youngest member of the Jets. A relative innocent.
  • David Winters as A Rab, Baby John’s best friend
  • Bert Michaels as Snowboy
  • David Bean as Tiger
  • Robert Banas as Joyboy
  • Anthony ‘Scooter’ Teague as Big Deal
  • Harvey Evans (Harvey Hohnecker) as Mouthpiece
  • Tommy Abbott as Gee-Tar

Jet Girls

  • Susan Oakes and Anybodys, a tomboy and wannabe Jet
  • Gina Trikonis as Graziella, Riff’s girlfriend.
  • Carole D’Andrea as Velma, Ice’s girlfriend


  • Rita Hyde from Amico as Clarice, Big Deal’s girlfriend
  • Pat Tribble as Minnie, Baby John’s girlfriend
  • Francesca Bellini as Debby, Snowboy’s girlfriend
  • Elaine Joyce as Hotsie, Tiger’s girlfriend


  • Jose DeVega as Chino Martin, Bernardo’s best friend
  • Jay Norman as Pepe, Bernardo’s Lieutenant
  • Gus Trikonis as Indio, Pepe’s best friend
  • Eddie Verso as Juano
  • Jaime Rogers as Loco
  • Larry Roquemore as Rocco
  • Robert E. Thompson as Luis
  • Nick Covacevich as Toro
  • Rudy Del Campo as Del Campo
  • Andre Tayir as Chile

Shark Girls

  • Yvonne Othon as Consuelo , Pepe’s girlfriend
  • Suzie Kaye and Rosalia, Indio’s girlfriend
  • Joanne Miya as Francisca, Toro’s girlfriend


  • Maria Jimenez Henley as Teresita, Juano’s girlfriend
  • Yvonne Wilder as Alicia, Chile’s girlfriend
  • Luci Stone as Estella, Loco’s girlfriend
  • Olivia Perez as Margarita, Rocco’s Girlfriend

Musical numbers

Act I

  1. “Overture” – Orchestra
  2. “Prologue” – Orchestra
  3. “Jet Song” – Riff and Jets
  4. ” Something’s Coming ” – Tony
  5. “Dance at the Gym” – Orchestra
  6. ” Maria ” – Tony
  7. ” America ” – Anita, Bernardo, Sharks and Girls
  8. ” Tonight ” – Tony and Maria
  9. “Gee, Officer Krupke” – The Jets
  10. “Maria (violin)” – Orchestra
Act II

  1. ” I Feel Pretty ” – Maria, Consuelo, Rosalia, and Francisca
  2. ” One Hand, One Heart ” – Tony and Maria
  3. ” Tonight Quintet ” – Maria, Tony, Anita, Riff, Bernardo, Jets, and Sharks
  4. “The Rumble” – Orchestra
  5. ” Somewhere ” – Tony and Maria
  6. ” Cool ” – Ice and Jets
  7. ” A Boy Like That / I Have a Love” – ​​Anita and Maria
  8. “Somewhere (Reprise)” – Maria
  9. “Finale” – Orchestra


Veteran director Robert Wise was chosen to direct and produce because of his New York dramas such as Odds Against Tomorrow (1959). Since he had no experience directing a musical, Wise agreed that Jerome Robbins , who had directed the stage version of West Side Story , would direct the musical and dance sequences. The Mirisch Company, about the production was running over-budget, dismissed Robbins. According to Saul Chaplin, Robbins nearly suffered a nervous breakdown during the time he worked on the film. The remaining dance numbers were directed by Robbins’ assistants. Recognizing Robbins’ considerable creative contribution to the film, Wise agreed that Robbins should be given co-directing credit, even though Wise directed the greater part of the film. The opening titles and credits were created by Saul Bass , who is also credited for “visual consultation” on the film.

Exterior shots used the buildings of Lincoln Square , which were vacant and about to be torn down, allowing them to be used as a set.


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They did not consider 30-year-old Larry Kert , the first Tony on Broadway, or 29-year-old Carol Lawrence , the first Maria, but some experience in internship productions. Tony Mordente , who played A-Rab on stage, was cast as Action in the film, and George Chakiris , Riff in the London stage production, played Bernardo in the film. Tucker Smith , who joined the Broadway production several months ago, played Diesel, renamed Ice for the movie. David Winters , the first stage Baby John, played A-Rab,[3] Eliot Feld, an ensemble member and understudy for Baby John on Broadway, played Baby John. Jay Norman, Juano on stage, appeared as Pepe. Reprising their stage roles in the film were Carole D’Andrea as Velma, Tommy Abott as Gee-Tar, and William Bramley as Officer Krupke.

Elvis Presley was approached for Tony, but his manager, Colonel Tom Parker , was very much in favor of Elvis and made a decision in favor of other musicals. [4] According to legend, the Colonel did not want Elvis associated with gang warfare and knife crime, three years earlier, Elvis’ character Danny Fisher stabbed and killed the small-time gangster ‘Shark’ played by Vic Morrow in the movie King Creole . When the movie became a hit and earned 10 Oscars, Elvis regretted having given up the part. Others who auditioned for the part included Warren Beatty , Hunter Tab , Anthony Perkins , Russ Tamblyn, Burt Reynolds , Troy Donahue , Bobby Darin , Richard Chamberlain , Dennis Hopper , and Gary Lockwood .

Bobby Darin made a strong impression on the production of his audition and was, at one point, in talks for the role. However, he turned it down due to his concert and recording commitments. Hunter’s Tab , then 30, and Burt Reynolds , nearly 26, were also considered, due to their broadcaster and singing credits, but they were dismissed because of their age. Richard Chamberlain was also thought to be too old at age 26. The producers settled on their “final five”: Warren Beatty , Anthony Perkins , Russ Tamblyn , Troy Donahue , and Richard Beymer. Although he was 28 before filming began, Perkins’ boyish looks and Broadway summary seemed to make him a contender for the role, and he was trying to avoid getting typecast after the success of Psycho . Robert Wise originally Beatty thing for the role, figuring that youth was more important than experience. Ultimately, Beymer, the most unlikely of the candidates, won the part of Tony. Tamblyn, after several callbacks, impressed the producers and was given the role of Riff.

Natalie Wood was filming Splendor in the Grass with Beatty Warren and was romantically involved with him off-screen. The producers were considering her for the role of Maria. When Beatty went to screen for the role of Tony, Wood reads about him Maria has a favor because she has been practicing with him. The producers fell in love with the idea of ​​Wood as Maria but did not cast Beatty.

Jill St. John , Audrey Hepburn , Diane Baker , Valerie Harper , Elizabeth Ashley , and Suzanne Pleshette were among the many actresses who lobbied for the role of Maria in the film. However, hepburn later withdrew because she became pregnant.

Differences from the stage show

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It is Baby John who is attacked and has his ear stabbed by Sharks. In the stage show, it’s A-Rab. David Winters played Baby John on stage and he played A-Rab in the film. Both times he avoided getting attacked by Bernardo.

“Tonight” takes place immediately after the dance in the stage show. In the film it was moved to “America”.

The Sharks sing “America” ​​along with the Shark Girls in the movie, while it’s only the Shark Girls on stage. Anita and Rosalia sing it on stage, while Bernardo takes Rosalia’s place in the film. Therefore, the majority of the song’s lyrics are changed in the movie.

In the movie “Gee, Officer Krupke” takes place before “Cool” and is sung by Riff instead of Action, and “Cool” is sung by Ice. On stage the songs are reversed. “Cool” comes first and sung by Riff, while “Gee, Officer Krupke” is sung by Action.

During the Quintet, Riff sings to Tony. In the movie, he sings to Ice.

On stage, Action takes over leader when Riff is killed. In the movie, Ice takes over.

On stage, Velma is Riff’s girl, and Graziella is Diesel’s girl. In the movie, Graziella is Riff’s Girl and Velma is Ice’s Girl.

Riff’s lieutenant from the stage production is named Diesel; he was renamed Ice for the movie (The original book, however, indicates two of the Jets are named Diesel and Ice).

Anxious, Nibbles and Moose … are renamed Loco, Rocco and Del Campo for the film.

On stage, there are 11 Jets (including Tony) and 10 Sharks. The film has 12 Jets and 11 Sharks with the additions of Joyboy and Chile, respectively


West Side Story holds 94% “Certified fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 62 reviews for an average rating of 8.3 / 10; the site’s critical consensus states: “Buoyed by Robert Wise’s dazzling direction, Leonard Bernstein’s score, and Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics, West Side Story remains perhaps the most iconic of all Shakespeare adaptations to visit the big screen.” [5]

Box office

The film earned $ 19,645,000 in North American rentals. [6] Because of profit participation, United Artists earned a profit of $ 2.5 million on the film. [7]

Accolades and honors

Its ten Academy Awards make it the best movie wins, including Best Picture. Three other films ( Ben-Hur , Titanic and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King ) won 11 Oscars, but they were not musical films. [8]

Academy Awards

Awards [9] [10]

  • Academy Award for Best Picture – Robert Wise , producer
  • Academy Award for Best Director – Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins
  • Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor – George Chakiris
  • Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress – Rita Moreno
  • Academy Award for Best Art Direction – Color Decoration – Victor A. Gangelin and Boris Leven
  • Academy Award for Best Cinematography (Color) – Daniel L. Fapp
  • Academy Award for Best Costume Design (Color) – Irene Sharaff
  • Academy Award for Best Film Editing – Thomas Stanford
  • Academy Award for Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture – Saul Chaplin , Johnny Green , Irwin Kostal , and Sid Ramin
  • Academy Award for Best Sound – Fred Hynes (Todd-AO SSD) and Gordon E. Sawyer (Samuel Goldwyn SSD)


  • Academy Award for Best Writing – Ernest Lehman


  • Academy Award for Brilliant Achievements in the Art of Film Choreography – Jerome Robbins [11]

American Film Institute lists:

  • AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Movies – # 41
  • AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Passions – # 3
  • AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Songs :
    • ” Somewhere ” – # 20
    • ” America ” – # 35
    • ” Tonight ” – # 59
  • AFI’s Greatest Movie Musicals – # 2
  • AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) – # 51

The film’s cast appeared and was honored at the 50th anniversary of the West Side Story at the 2011 Ventura Film Festival . [12]

Score and soundtrack

Leonard Bernstein was displeased with the orchestrations for the movie, which was the work of Sid Ramin and Irwin Kostal , who had orchestrated the original Broadway production. That show had been orchestrated for roughly 30 musicians; for the movie, United Artists allowed them triple that, including six saxophone parts, eight trumpets, five pianos and five xylophones. [13] Bernstein found it “overbearing and lacking in texture and subtlety.” [2]

Stephen Sondheim , who did not like the arrangement of the songs in the Broadway version, had the song “Gee, Officer Krupke” being sung before the Rumble in the song “Cool” which is sung instead afterthe Rumble; the song “I Feel Pretty” is also sung before the Rumble instead of after. In addition, the song “America” ​​was sung in-between the two love songs “Maria” and “Tonight”, instead of having the two love songs being sung consecutively. The “Somewhere” Ballet was omitted, because it slowed down the pace of the film, and was sung instead by Tony and Maria. “One Hand, One Heart” and “A Boy Like That”, especially in the songs. Some lyrics were changed in order to avoid censorship, especially in the songs “Jet Song,” “Gee, Officer Krupke”, “America” ​​and the “Tonight Quintet.” Even the sentence “Womb to Tomb, Sperm to Worm” between Riff and Tonyand “One-Two-Three, One-Two-Three” between Riff and Diesel in the Quintet.

As provided in her contract, Wood prerecorded her songs and allowed the production team to decide whether to use her voice or not. She found the songs challenging, but was allowed to film her scenes lip-synching to her own vocals and was led to believe that these versions would be used, although music supervisors Saul Chaplin and Johnny Green had already decided to use Marni Nixon’s voice. Wood’s singing voice is only heard during the song “Somewhere” when Tony dies. Though Nixon had recorded the songs in the same orchestra sessions as Wood, she had to re-record them to sync with Wood’s filmed performances. Wood had lip-synched to Nixon’s voice, “One Hand, One Heart”, had to be recorded again because Wood’s lip-synching was unsatisfactory. [15] When Marni Nixon learned that she had not signed a record for a recording of the LP record , she was told that all percents had been allotted. Bernstein gave her 0.25% of his royalties album. This set has precedent for all future “ghost singers”. [16]

Beymer’s vocals were performed by Jimmy Bryant . Tucker Smith , who played Ice, dubbed the singing voice of Riff in “Jet Song”, instead of Russ Tamblyn . Tamblyn’s own voice was used in “Gee, Officer Krupke” and the “Quintet”. Rita Moreno was dubbed by Betty Wand in the song “A Boy Like That” because the song was made to work. However, Moreno’s blood her own vocals in “America”. Marni Nixon blood some of Moreno’s parts in the “Quintet” when moreno from moreno from doing so. Nixon recorded Anita’s vocal line as well.

For the 50th anniversary of the film’s 1961 release, a score closer to the Broadway was produced by Garth Edwin Sunderland of the Leonard Bernstein. [17] The score of New York City premiere was presented at Lincoln Center ‘s Avery Fisher Hall , atop the original film rentals, which were razed in late 1950s urban renewal projects. [13] [18]

The Stan Kenton Orchestra recorded Kenton ‘s West Side Story , an entire album of Johnny Richards ‘ jazz orchestrations based on the Bernstein scores in 1961. It was previewed on Capitol Records by the producers of the motion picture during the editing and mix of who lamented that, had they known of its existence, it would have been used as the musical foundation of the new film. The Kenton won the 1962 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Recording by a Large Group. A still picture from the movie is the front cover of the Kenton LP.

Remakes and legacy

The 2000 Bollywood movie Josh is a loose adaptation of West Side Story . In 2014, director Steven Spielberg has a direct interest in directing a remake of the film. [19]

In 2009, photographer Mark Seliger re-created scenes from the film for Vanity Fair magazine called West Side Story Revisited , using Camilla Belle as Maria, Ben Barnes as Tony, Jennifer Lopez as Anita, Rodrigo Santoro as Bernardo and Chris Evans as Riff. Portraying the Sharks are Kelly Minka , Jay Hernandez , Natalie Martinez , Brandon T. Jackson and Melonie Diaz . Portraying the Jets are Ashley Tisdale , Sean Faris , Robert Pattinson ,Cam Gigandet , Trilby Glover , Brittany Snow and Drake Bell . [20]

See also

  • List of American films of 1961
  • Whitewashing in film


  1. Jump up^ ” West Side Story (AA)” . British Board of Film Classification . January 12, 1962 . Retrieved June 19, 2013 .
  2. ^ Jump up to:b Berson, Misha (2011). Something’s Coming, Something Good: West Side Story and the American Imagination . Applause Theater & Cinema Books. p. 155.
  3. Jump up^ “David Winters Tribute Site” . Davidwinters.net. 2003-04-01 . Retrieved 2012-03-14 .
  4. Jump up^ www.elvisechoesofthepast.com
  5. Jump up^ West Side Story atRotten TomatoesRetrieved July 19, 2014
  6. Jump up^ Internet Movie Database
  7. Jump up^ Tino Balio,United Artists: The Company That Changed the Film Industry, Uni of Wisconsin Press, 1987, p. 177
  8. Jump up^ Grant, Barry Keith (2012). The Hollywood Movie Musical . Wiley-Blackwell. p. 100.
  9. Jump up^ ” West Side Story (1961) – Awards” . The New York Times . Retrieved December 24, 2008 .
  10. Jump up^ “The 34th Academy Awards (1962) Nominees and Winners” . oscars.org . Retrieved 2011-08-22 .
  11. Jump up^ [1]
  12. Jump up^ West Side Story 50th Anniversary at the Ventura Film Festival
  13. ^ Jump up to:b Wakin, Daniel (September 6, 2011), “Classic Score by Bernstein’s Remade” , The New York Times , retrieved September 7, 2011
  14. Jump up^ West Side Story – “Something’s Coming,” YouTube
  15. Jump up^ Nixon, Marni (2006). I Could Have Sung All Night: My Story . Billboard Books. pp. 132French francs.
  16. Jump up^ Secret Voices of Hollywood. BBC4. 3 Jan 2014
  17. Jump up^ “Path of Discovery: West Side Story at 50″, Justin M. Craig, September 27, 2011, leonardbernstein.com
  18. Jump up^ Sarah Waxman,”The History of the Upper West Side”, ny.com
  19. Jump up^ Nemiroff, Perri (2014-08-08). ” West Side Story Remake Is Still On Steven Spielberg’s Mind” . Collider.com . Retrieved 2016-06-01 .
  20. Jump up^ Seliger, Mark (March 17, 2009). “West Side Story Revisited” . Vanity Fair . Retrieved July 18, 2010 .

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