West Side Story Wiki

West Side Story is a 1961 American romantic musical tragedy film directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins.

The film is an adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical of the same name, which in turn, was inspired by 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, A.S.C., in Super Panavision 70. Released on October 18, 1961, through United Artists, the film received high praise from critics and viewers, and became the second highest grossing film of the year in the United States. The film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won 10, including Best Picture (as well as a special award for Robbins), becoming the record holder for the most wins for a movie musical.

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


In the late 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, the Sharks, led by Bernardo Nunez. After a brawl erupts, Lieutenant Schrank and Officer Krupke arrive and break it up. The Jets decide 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 join them for the rumble. Riff invites Tony to the dance, and Tony is uninterested, but eventually agrees to come. He tells Riff that he senses something important will happen in his life, which Riff suggests could be related to the dance.

Bernardo's younger sister, Maria, tells her best friend and Bernardo's girlfriend, Anita Palacio, with whom she works at a bridal shop, how excited she is about the dance as they work on altering Maria's dress. She also complains that she has no interest in Chino, the young Puerto Rican man Bernardo brought to the U.S. for her to marry. At the dance, the gangs and girls refuse to intermingle. Tony arrives and he and Maria fall in love at first sight. Bernardo angrily demands Tony stay away from Maria and sends her home. Riff confronts Bernardo about meeting to arrange the fight.

At home, Bernardo admonishes Maria for being naïve, and he and Anita argue that he is being overprotective. They and their friends debate the advantages and disadvantages of America.

Tony quietly meets Maria on her fire escape, where they reaffirm their love. At Doc's store, both gangs agree on a one-on-one fist fight rumble the following night under a highway. When Schrank arrives, the gangs feign friendship. Schrank forces 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, revealing their romance to Anita who initially objects and warns them that Bernardo would never approve, but later agrees to keep it secret. Maria has Tony promise to prevent the rumble. Tony and Maria fantasize about their wedding ceremony.

The following night, the Jets and Sharks meet under the highway and the fight begins as planned. Tony arrives to stop it, 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 in retaliation and a melee ensues. Police sirens blare and everyone flees, leaving behind the dead bodies.

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

The Jets have reassembled outside a garage with their new leader, Ice, having them focus on keeping cool no matter how emotional they feel. The tomboy Anybody's arrives and warns them that Chino is now after Tony with a gun. The Jets split up to find Tony.

Anita arrives home after learning of Bernardo's death. Maria and Tony quickly and quietly agree to meet up at Doc's and run away. Anita catches Tony leaving and tells Maria she should let him go since he is a killer, and Maria changes her mind. Anita tells her of Chino's plans and Maria tells her Tony is headed for Doc's store. Schrank arrives to question Maria about the disagreement at the dance. Maria fakes having a headache and asks Anita go to Doc's store for medicine and to tell Doc she has been detained. Knowing Maria's real meaning, Anita agrees.

At Doc's, the Jets harass Anita, despite her pleas that she wants to help. After Doc breaks things up, Anita proclaims that Bernardo was right to hate them. She lied that Chino killed Maria when he found out about her and Tony.

Doc delivers getaway money and Anita's message to Tony who then bursts into the street, yelling for Chino to kill him too. Maria arrives and they run to each other in the middle of the playground. Just before they embrace, Chino shoots Tony and he dies in Maria's arms. Maria takes the gun from Chino and blames the deaths of Riff, Bernardo, and Tony on the Jet's and Shark's alike, because of their hatred for each other. Schrank, Krupke, and Doc arrive as the Jets and Sharks, together, carry Tony's body away, forming a funeral procession with Maria following. The police arrest Chino and lead him away.


Musical numbers[]

Act I[]

Act II[]

  • "Intermission" – Orchestra
  • "Somewhere" – Consuelo
  • "Cool" – Ice & Jets
  • "A Boy Like That/I Have a Love" – Anita & Maria
  • "Finale" – Company

United States of America ending of war[]

  • God Bless the USA - Lee Greenwood


1961 Grammy Awards[]

The film’s original soundtrack won the Grammy Award for Best Soundtrack Album or Recording of Original Cast from Motion Picture or Television at the 4th Annual Grammy Awards in 1961.

1962 Academy Awards[]

West Side Story won a total of 10 Oscars at the 34th Academy Awards in 1962, making it the musical film with the most Academy wins, including Best Picture. Jerome Robbins shared the Best Director Oscar with Robert Wise, becoming only the second director to win the Academy Award for Best Director for a film debut (after Delbert Mann for Marty). That same year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored him with a special award for his choreographic achievements on film.[1]


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


  • Jerome Robbins received an Academy Honorary Award "for his brilliant achievements in the art of choreography on film".


  • Best Adapted Screenplay – Ernest Lehman

1962 Golden Globe Awards[]

West Side Story garnered seven nominations and three wins at the 1962 Golden Globe Awards.


  • Best Motion Picture-Musical
  • Best Supporting Actress - Rita Moreno
  • Best Supporting Actor - George Chakiris


  • Best Director - Robert Wise, Jerome Robbins
  • Best Actor-Comedy or Musical - Richard Beymer
  • Most Promising Newcomer-Male - Richard Beymer
  • Most Promising Newcomer-Male - George Chakiris

1962 DGA/WGA[]

These awards were won during the Directors Guild of American award ceremony and the Writers Guilt of America award ceremony.

  • Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures - Robert Wise, Jerome Robbins, Robert E. Relyea (assistant director) (plaque)
  • Best Written American Musical - Ernest Lehman

2021 Remake (Film)[]

West Side Story (2021) is produced and directed by Steven Spielberg from a script by Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Tony Kushner (Lincoln). The film has been adapted for the screen from the original 1957 Broadway musical. The cast includes Rachel Zegler (Maria), Ansel Elgort (Tony), Ariana DeBose (Anita), David Alvarez (Bernardo), Mike Faist (Riff), Josh Andrés Rivera (Chino), Corey Stoll (Lietenant Schrank), and Brian d’Arcy James (Sergeant Krupke). Rita Moreno, who won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Anita in the 1961 film version of West Side Story, will feature as Valentina, a reconceived and expanded version of the character of Doc, the owner of the corner store in which Tony works.

2021 Everett Theatre (Play)[]

West Side Story went into production Early September. Around September 13th the play went into affect. Adapted by Valerie Beardsley, the play's popularity skyrocketed due to the cast and the upcoming movie, just a week after the play were to originally come out. The show featured the amazing cast of Jackson Cottrell (Tony), Kelley Laurenceau, Moulai Njie (Bernardo, Cynthia Acevedo (Anita) and Zeyphr Doyle (Riff). The music was changed and composed by Kylie Boggs and the dance numbers was done by Chloe Boggs. The show would be producted by Dan Sieglen. Although it comes out the same time as the movie, the play was adapted by the 1961 movie/play. They would be conducting the High School Production and would take place at the Everett Theatre.

Notes and Trivia[]

  • In total, West Side Story has been has garnered 38 total award nods, with 28 wins and 10 nominations. The films first win was in the 1961 Grammy's and the most recent being in 2011 with a Satellite award for Best Classic DVD (50th anniversary edition).
  • In 1997, the film won the national film preservation board award.