West Side Story

Watch West Side Story

  • Approved
  • 1961
  • 2 hr 32 min
  • 7.6  (119,364)
  • 86

West Side Story is a 1961 American musical drama film, directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins. It was based on the 1957 stage musical of the same name by Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein, and Stephen Sondheim. The film stars Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, and George Chakiris, with supporting performances by Rita Moreno and Russ Tamblyn.

The story is set in the Upper West Side neighborhood in New York City in the 1950s, where two rival gangs, the Jets, consisting of white American teenagers, and the Sharks, a Puerto Rican group, have an intense rivalry. The film follows the romantic relationship between Maria (Natalie Wood), the sister of the leader of the Sharks, and Tony (Richard Beymer), a former member of the Jets. The two fall in love despite the hostility between their respective gangs and the prejudice that surrounds them.

The film opens with a dynamic instrumental prologue that sets the tone for the rest of the movie. The audience is introduced to the Jets through a lively dance sequence, and the Sharks through a more percussive, Latin-infused routine. The stage is set for the Jets and Sharks to engage in a fierce rivalry that will ultimately lead to tragic consequences.

Natalie Wood shines as Maria, the naive and innocent sister of the Sharks leader. She brings a sweet and innocent charm to the character, which makes her portrayal of Maria all the more poignant. Richard Beymer likewise shines as Tony, the former Jet who falls in love with Maria. He is a charismatic and suave leading man who commands the screen with his presence.

George Chakiris is outstanding as Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks. He brings a quiet intensity to the character that is both menacing and captivating. He is matched in intensity by his girlfriend, Anita, played brilliantly by Rita Moreno. Anita is fiery and passionate, and her strong will and spirit are the perfect counterpoint to Maria's more tender nature.

The film's standout moments are its musical numbers, choreographed by Jerome Robbins. The dances are both inventive and thrilling, blending traditional musical theater choreography with contemporary dance moves that reflect the film's urban setting. The most famous number in the film is undoubtedly "America," where Anita and her friends express their love-hate relationship with their adopted country. The song is a tour-de-force, blending witty lyrics with a jaunty melody that makes it impossible not to tap your toes.

The film's most gut-wrenching moment comes towards the end, during the climactic rumble between the Jets and Sharks. The violence is portrayed in a stylized manner, with quick cuts and jarring camera angles that make it all the more shocking. The sequence is followed by a mournful rendition of the song "Somewhere," which serves as a poignant reminder of what has been lost.

West Side Story remains one of the great movie musicals of all time, thanks to its innovative choreography, memorable songs, and outstanding performances. It captures the spirit of a bygone era, while also conveying timeless themes of love, prejudice, and the destructive power of violence. It is a film that still resonates with audiences today, and is a must-see for anyone who appreciates great cinema.

West Side Story is a 1961 crime movie with a runtime of 2 hours and 32 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.6 and a MetaScore of 86.

West Side Story
Where to Watch West Side Story
West Side Story is available to watch free on The Roku Channel Free, Pluto TV, Tubi TV and Kanopy. It's also available to stream, download and buy on demand at Amazon Prime, The Roku Channel, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent West Side Story for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    2 hr 32 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.6  (119,364)
  • Metascore