West Side Story Wiki
West Side Story Wiki

Lieutenant Schrank (played by Simon Oakland)

"Oh, yeah, sure, I know: It's a free country and I ain't got the right.. But I got a badge. Whaddaya you got?"

[~Lieutenant Schrank to Bernardo]

Lieutenant Schrank (Simon Oakland) is a plain-clothes police detective lieutenant and Sergeant Krupke's superior. Schrank is one of only four adults who feature prominently in West Side Story, the other three being Doc, Krupke, and Glad Hand. Schrank's character is based on Prince Escalus in Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet; Escalus was ruler and chief adjudicator for the city of Verona.

Schrank is cynical, obstinate, bigoted and heavy-handed, and is shown to be just as prejudiced against the Sharks as the Jets, though he hates the Jets almost as much, referring to them as coming from "tin-horn immigrant scum".

After the two rival gangs have their war council at Doc's Drug Store, Schrank arrives and orders Bernardo and the Sharks out, and then attempts to cull information from Riff and the Jets about the rumble and where it's going to be. When they say nothing, Schrank angrily begins to taunt them, especially A-Rab and Action; he takes delight in Action's losing his temper and having to be held back by the others and then warns him "One of these days there won't be anybody to hold ya!"

Schrank and Krupke invariably find themselves one step behind the machinations between the Jets and the Sharks until it's too late-- to wit, after Riff and Bernardo are killed in the rumble, and later after Tony is gunned down by Chino. Following the rumble, Schrank visits Maria at her apartment and grills her about the flare-up between Bernardo and Tony at the dance, but Maria lies to Schrank saying the argument was between Bernardo and another boy from Puerto Rico named Jose.

At the end, after Tony dies, Schrank arrives (along with the other key adults) and wordlessly picks up the gun after Maria tearfully drops it on the ground. After everyone else disperses, Schrank and Krupke take Chino away.