West Side Story

( 52 )

Overview

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 ...
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Overview

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 especially in the lyrics of "Gee, Officer Krupke", 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 is some of the most startling and balletic dance sequences ever recorded on film. West Side Story won an almost-record 10 Oscars, including Best Picture, supporting awards to Chakiris and Rita Moreno as Bernardo's girlfriend Anita, and Best Director to Robbins and Wise. Natalie Wood's singing was dubbed by Marni Nixon, who also dubbed Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady; the film's New York tenement locations were later razed to make room for Lincoln Center.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Richard Gilliam
West Side Story is remarkable for its seamless transference from stage musical to screen classic, with the complete Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim song score intact, as well as the choreography of Jerome Robbins. The story, derived from Romeo and Juliet, works on a symbolic rather than realistic level; there is no pretense that this is a true representation of what New York City gangs were like circa 1960. Veteran director Robert Wise is probably the person most responsible for the film's success, and for retaining the best qualities of the stage production, though co-director Robbins, who feuded with Wise throughout the production, would likely disagree. After several weeks of delayed production due to Robbins' insistence on extra rehearsals, Wise tired of the Broadway legend and had him removed from the set. West Side Story swept the Oscars, taking ten awards, including awards for Best Picture and its decidedly non-cordial co-directors. The Academy gave a special choreography award to Robbins, who thanked a great many people in his acceptance speech, noticeably failing to mention Wise.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 1/6/1998
  • UPC: 027616529534
  • Original Release: 1961
  • Rating:

  • Source: Mgm (Video & Dvd)
  • Presentation: Wide Screen
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Natalie Wood Maria
Richard Beymer Tony
Russ Tamblyn Riff
Rita Moreno Anita
George Chakiris Bernardo
Simon Oakland Lt. Schrank
William Bramley Officer Krupke
Ned Glass Doc
John Astin Glad Hand, social worker
Penny Santon Madam Lucia
Jose de Vega Chino
Jay Norman Pepe
Gus Trikonis Indio
Robert Thompson Luis
Larry Roquemore Rocco
Eddie Verso Juano
Andre Tayir Chile
Tucker Smith Ice
Tony Mordente Action
Eliot Feld Baby John
David Winters A-Rab
Bert Michaels Snowboy
Robert Banas Joyboy
Anthony Teague Big Deal
Thomas Abbott Gee-Tar
David Bean Tiger
Sue Oakes Anybody
Gina Trikonis Graziella
Carole D'Andrea Velma
Yvonne Othon Consuelo
Suzie Kaye Rosalia [The Sharks]
Joanna Miya Francisca
Jimmy Bryant Voice Only
Rudy Del Campo Del Campo
Nich Covvacevich Toro
Harvey Hobnecker Mouthpiece
Marni Nixon Voice Only
Jaime Rogers Loco
John Zaccaro
Johnny Green Conductor
Technical Credits
Jerome Robbins Director, Choreography
Robert Wise Director, Producer
Leonard Bernstein Score Composer
Saul Chaplin Associate Producer, Musical Direction/Supervision
Daniel L. Fapp Cinematographer
Victor A. Gangelin Set Decoration/Design
Johnny Green Musical Direction/Supervision
Fred Hynes Sound/Sound Designer
Irwin Kostal Musical Direction/Supervision
Fred Lau Sound/Sound Designer
Ernest Lehman Screenwriter
Boris Leven Production Designer
Sid Ramin Musical Direction/Supervision
Robert E. Relyea Asst. Director
Irene Sharaff Costumes/Costume Designer
Murray Spivack Sound/Sound Designer
Thomas G. Stanford Editor
Vinton Vernon Sound/Sound Designer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 52 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(37)

4 Star

(7)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 52 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Greatest Movie Musical Of All Time. "Period"

    West Side Story is without a doubt the greatest movie musical of all time. Winner of 10 Oscars including Best Picture. Timeless classic. There is no doubt...It's the best! This musical is the best because the story is so beautiful. Simply put, Tony is one of the founders of the Jets. He quits the Jets to get a job and a better life. Then, he meets Maria at a dance. Maria's brother Bernardo is the leader of the Puerto Rican Sharks. The Jets and Tony's best friend, the leader of the Jets,Riff, are racist. So are the Sharks. Tony and Maria fall in love. If you know Romeo and Juliet, you know what happens, but I don't want to ruin it. This movie is so smart, turning the fighting families in Romeo and Juliet into rival gangs in New York's west end. Don't get me started on the music. The great Lenard Bernstein's music has never been equaled. Jerome Robbin's choreography is the best anyone has ever seen. Is it hard for you to believe that West Side Story is the greatest movie musical of all time if not the greatest movie of all time? WATCH IT!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2013

    My rating is not about West Side Story because I've loved the mo

    My rating is not about West Side Story because I've loved the movie all of my life.  
    My low rating is against Barnes & Noble because they advertise a DVD format and send a BluRay -- not once, but twice.  
    And then B&N threatened to charge me S&H for their third attempt to make things right.
    Their third attempt was a DVD, but not in the version they advertise.
    I've had to call B&N again to get a refund on the BluRay that I sent back to them, since they acknowledged receipt two weeks ago and my account is yet to be credited.
    Because I cannot trust their website, I will never shop B&N online again.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2013

    First, Leonard Bernstein's score was so way ahead of its time, i

    First, Leonard Bernstein's score was so way ahead of its time, it still sounds modern today with it's cuban rhythms and bold, angular melodies and harmonies. 
    Second, the choreography is just superb. So energetic (esp Russ Tamblyn) and dynamic whilst still seeming totally in keeping with the genre and youth culture of the time.
    Third, the whole thing (apart from a panoramic at the start) is set in such tiny sets, yet still seems larger than life - small cafes, small apartments, basket ball courts, gyms etc Very special editing and direction not to make this seem clostrophobic.
    I think the only gripe I have is with the overdubbing. Marni Nixon? Again? Is there anything she's NOT on? I recognize her talent but her voice was way too shrill and constrained for Maria. I don't know whether it was the copy I was watching
    or not but every time there was singing, the sound was AHEAD of the movie in its synchronization!! NOT good editing! The picture was also a tiny bit grainy but considering when it was made, I guess I can forgive this. Actually, the sharpness was very impressive at times, almost 'too much' but with the rawness of the sets, it only served to enhance the experience. This is not a 'soft focus' style movie!!The sounds was great too, though again, not true surround, as one would expect of this period. Overall the film is more than a classic. it's immortal, just like it's story and deserves a place in the 'all time greatest' as well as on your video shelf!! Buy it!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2012

    This is NOT a DVD as listed above - it is a BlueRay disc.  I ord

    This is NOT a DVD as listed above - it is a BlueRay disc.  I ordered it and am now having to return it because we don't have a blueray player.  I wish they would change the listing, because it is incorrect.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    Classic

    I purchased this movie for myself because I have never managed to finish watching it and the musical tour is coming to my city soon. I definitely recommend it to anyone who loves musicals and anyone who wants to start a collection. It is a must have with incredible music.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    What a great trip back in time!

    I really enjoyed seeing this movie again, having first seen it as a teenager. The songs and dances are still exciting, the choreography is better than a lot of the modern stuff.
    A typical Romeo & Juliette story with a modern twist that is still relevant in today's world.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Classic

    Timeless piece of work, one that everyone should grow up with.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    So good your going to want to upgrade

    I love this movie! It is definitely one of my top 5 favorites ever. The message in it is so beautiful and meaningful. I didn't know about this movie at first because it was a musical, but honestly it is one of the best musicals I've ever seen. The story of the two lovers who try to be together, but just can't get pass their friend's and family's racial differences. I only own the single disc version of the movie, but I plan to buy the two disc very soon. I guarantee that the people who only see the one disc version will really want the two disc for all the inside stuff. This movie is defintitely worth the money.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Modernized Love Story

    This movie didn't win 10 academy awards for nothing! Even though It's not my favorite movie of all time [The Sound of Music is!], it still is an amazing classic. The dancing is brilliant, and the acting was good. It's based on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, which is a great story, but instead, it's modernized and there are some differences from the story. Even though Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer were dubbed, it's still a great movie. It's definately recommended.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Not my favorite musical of all time... but it's still worth mentioning!

    I first saw this movie in my 6th grade chior class and the first thing I noticed about it was how long it was, 2 1/2 hours long and sometimes it feels longer than that. I know it won 10 Oscars but still I feel that somethings could have been better. The singing for example, the four main characters had their voices dubbed (Russ Tamblyn was only dubbed a little but the others were dubbed for the whole movie), people make such a big deal about how actors today can't act and sing equally well... well what about this movie, only the minor characters did their OWN SINGING! Sure the dancing is great and that is one of the great things about this movie, Robert Wise deserved the Best Director award, and the story is a classic (thank you Shakespeare) but overall I feel it could have been better. My friend and I agree that one of the best changes to the movie is that Maria (Juliet's character) didn't kill herself, we always felt that that only showed that were immature and childish, so that's a good thing. Overall, the story is old, the dancing is great, nobody important sings their own songs, and even though it's not on my top 10 (or even top 20) list of favorite movies it's still a movie that has made history and it will continue to do so in the years to come.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    One of the BEST

    West Side Story is one of the greatest musicals ever. I love the dance scene, especially when the Puerto Ricans danced. And America just blew me away! Anita is my favorite. I reccomend this for anyone who likes musicals.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    And the point is?

    The story is quite good but the singing was so...so hard to take in. Without the singing the story was just about a boy and a girl that fell in love, ending in a death. But the singing made the movie fell like it went on forever. The acting was phenomenal Natily Wood can really hold a note. When the male character died it should have pierced my heart but it just left me in a slum. The only thing I can say that I enjoyed was the dancing. It was well choreographed and everyone’s steps were right on. So i give this movie one thumb up and one down. But go rent or buy this movie for yourself.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    WEST SIDE STORY : WONDERFUL !!!!

    This is far by the greatest musical ever made. It is as good as Fiddler on the roof, the music (overture is the greatest instramental song in West Side Story.)And the dancing,! oh my gosh THE DANCING! is the best ever! West Side Story is the best musical ever made!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Wonderful!!! I Loved It!

    West Side Story is one of the greatest movie musicals of our time. The story, singing and dancing from begining to end, has you on the edge of your seat with laughter, happiness, and tears. I reccomend this movie to any true musical enthusiest.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    One of the All Time Greats

    Despite a minor lipsync problem in the balcony scene, the film is much as I remember it from the first reissue of the theatrical release in the late 1960's (it premiered in 1961): the near impossible school dance footwork, the vibrancy of actress Rita Moreno, a perfectly edited ensemble piece before the rumble, the cool 'Cool' number, and finally, an artistically rendered end-credits like no other film since (I won't spoil it by describing it -- go watch).

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE?

    Forgive me for not riding the hype, but i just watched WSS for the first time, and i have to say it is one of the most over rated musicals ever. Sure, the story is great, but let's hand that over to Shakespeare. Yes, the dancing is great, probably the highlight of ths movie.... The thing is, the 'synergy' of the movie just doesn't come across! The ethnicity of the Puerto Ricans is really Americanised and it effects the over all meaning of the musical! Another aspect I found dissapointing was that i felt no sense of sorrow when the main characters died!! Bad production? It's around two and a half hours long, yet in this enormous amount of time, yet the character development remained really sparse! Maybe I need to see it again? Maybe sixteen year olds arent meant to judge musicals from the 60's? Either way...i was just dissapointed! I'll finish in asking the question that bugged me the moment the movie finished..... why does maria live?? Juliet doesn't live! This reeeaallly affects the story in a BAD way... then again, if she died, i don't think i'd feel the emotion i did when Juliet died, anyway.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Best Musical EVER

    I sat in movie theaters at least 20 times in 1962 watching West Side Story. The Jerome Robbins choreography weaves dance within scenes of street violence with such realism that I don't even have to suspend disbelief to remain totally engrossed in the plot -- not to mention 'The Dance at the Gym; America; and, 'Cool' which, to me, are unequaled musical/dance adaptations of their day. The music & lyrics of Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim were so well-deserving of their Academy Awards; and, of course, Natalie Wood is an unforgettably beautiful Maria. This is a must for anyone who enjoys the Arts.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    One of the Top Ten FINEST Musicals Ever Produced!

    When 'West Side Story' hit the Broadway stage it must have shocked theater critics. A ballet musical about street gangs and murder, with such an emotional swell built in, that even the most hardened cynics must have left the show dewy-eyed and humming the Leonard Bernstein score. The film version created nothing less than an international craze and garnered an unprecedented 10 Oscars - the most of any musical Best Picture. The plot is essentially Romeo and Juliet in the ghetto with Natalie Wood (dubbed by Marni Nixon) as Maria; the poor, Puerto Rican who is in love with Tony (Richard Beymer). But Maria¿s brother, Bernardo (George Chakaris) and his girlfriend, Anita (Rita Moreno) do not approve of the union because of Tony¿s Polish heritage. If you know your Shakespeare, you know how this one ends. The difference here is in the songs, so electric and outstanding that they easily steal the show. Try listening to 'America' or 'I Feel Pretty' without tapping your feet or 'One Hand, One Heart' without getting goose-bumps. It's impossible. The film tackles racism, gang violence, date rape and police brutality and it does it all in a way that entertains as well as educates. MGM gives us some nice packaging and some extras but let's state the obvious first: this transfer is identical to the one previously issued on DVD. Having said that, the transfer is quite good, with a rich bold color and fairly deep and solid blacks. But there are cases where edge enhancement is present and quite obtrusive. There's also a lot of pixelization in the background wire fences. Certain scenes appear slightly out of focus, while others are so sharp that even with your televsion sharpness turned to zero, the image is rather hard edged. The soundtrack is very strident. Songs are presented at an explosive listening level that really rock the house. But other bits of dialogue are soft or muffled. Some of the songs have a grating high pitch to them that really strains the ear. A moderate listening level is recommended to fully appreciate this audio. Now for the extras - for starters we get a very handsome book that contains the entire script as well as personal reflections from the producers and cast and newspaper clippings of the initial reviews. The print quality of the book is barely adequate with photo image quality that is poor to unacceptable, smeared images of original stills and others that have faded colors. Since this is a two-disc set, the movie is on disc one, with the option to view with or without the intermission music - a very nice touch. Disc 2 contains a documentary 'West Side Memories' that is somewhat disappointing in that not all the cast members have their say. Missing from the proceedings are George Chakaris (Bernardo) who is still alive and should have been included. Yes, Natalie Wood is no longer with us but I find it hard to believe that she never gave any sound bytes to the press with regard to her participation on the film. Marni Nixon, who dubbed for Natalie, is also not present to lend her expertise and talk about the art of dubbing, which she did plenty of during Hollywood's golden age. There's also no Ernest Lehman - odd, considering how active he's been on other special edition DVD's. This documentary is self-congratulatory and pretty much plays it safe. The premiere and the film's enduring popularity are glossed over. On disc 2 we get the isolated intermission music presented a second time - for what reason, I'm not sure - presumably to fill disc space. There's also a montage of stills set to music and no less than five theatrical trailers - all of them looking pretty dull and worn. Lastly, we get a shameless add from MGM, promoting its other DVD releases. That's pretty much it. A real waste of a second disc if you ask me. Yes, the documentary is fairly comprehensive, but it could have fit on side two of a flipper disc. Yes, the book is a nice companion piece but it's not printed with high quality in mind. The hands

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Classic musical

    I love this movie. My girlfriends and I sat in the all night theatres over and over again in the late 60's watching and crying. We went between Tony, Bernardo and Riff as our fave raves! Sorry 'a musical lover' but it was 1961, of course it was cheesy! But oh, the music and the dancing, it was just too high energy. And Russ Tamblyn one of the most underrated dancers of our time. One question, did you think Singing in the Rain cheesy too?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    horrible

    I love musicals in the theather or not but this was a real disappointment. I don't recommend this to anyone. The whole movie was cheesy and the voices were terrible. Not to mention the songs were all alike and I got so bored from listening to the same thing over and over.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 52 Customer Reviews