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West Side Story ()

directed by ,
featuring Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn, Rita Moreno, George Chakiris

Romeo and Juliet is updated to the tenements of New York City in this Oscar-winning musical landmark. Adapted by Ernest Lehman from the Broadway production, the movie opens with an overhead shot of Manhattan, an effect that director Robert Wise would repeat over the Alps in The Sound of Music four years later. We are introduced to two rival street gangs: the Jets, second-generation American teens, and the Sharks, Puerto Rican immigrants. When the war between the Jets and Sharks reaches a fever pitch, Jets leader Riff (Russ Tamblyn) decides to challenge the Sharks to one last "winner take all" rumble. He decides to meet Sharks leader Bernardo (George Chakiris) for a war council at a gymnasium dance; to bolster his argument, Riff wants his old pal Tony (Richard Beymer), the cofounder of the Jets, to come along. But Tony has set his sights on vistas beyond the neighborhood and has fallen in love with Bernardo's sister, Maria (Natalie Wood), a love that, as in Romeo and Juliet, will eventually end in tragedy. In contrast to the usual slash-and-burn policy of Hollywood musical adaptations, all the songs written by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim for the original Broadway production of West Side Story were retained for the film version, although some alterations were made to appease the Hollywood censors, and the original order of two songs was reversed for stronger dramatic impact. The movie more than retains the original choreography of Jerome Robbins, which is recreated in some of the most startling and balletic dance sequences ever recorded on film. West Side Story won an almost-record ten Oscars, including Best Picture, supporting awards to Chakiris and Rita Moreno as Bernardo's girlfriend, Anita, and Best Director to Robbins and Wise. Richard Beymer's singing was dubbed by Jimmy Bryant, Natalie Wood's by Marni Nixon (who also dubbed Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady), and Rita Moreno's by Betty Wand. The film's New York tenement locations were later razed to make room for Lincoln Center. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi Hide synopsis

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Reviews of West Side Story

Overall customer rating: 4.334
Dene Nixon

West Side Story Collector's edition

by Dene Nixon on Oct 22, 2011

Just a perfect rendering of the original movie plus all of the extra material that came with the box set. More

Shalako

Dissappointing

by Shalako on Aug 30, 2009

For such a famous movie, I found this too long, too depressing, too much about New York City. Maybe the natives of the city liked it and made it famous. More

Customer rating: 5 out of 5 5 out of 5
Would recommend?: Yes  1 out of 1
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