West Side Story

Director: Robert Wise and
Jerome Robbins
Music: Leonard Bernstein
Lyrics: Stephen Sondheim
Choreography: Jerome Robbins

Main Characters/Players:
Tony: Richard Beymer
Maria: Natalie Wood
Officer Krupke
Lieutenat Schrank

Plot Summary:

Two rival gangs, the Jets and the Sharks, agree to have a rumble. Riff, the leader of the Jets, asks his best friend Tony, an ex-member, to help him. After the dance at the school gym the Jets and the Sharks will hold a war council to decide on what weapons they will use to fight. At the school dance, Maria, the sister of Bernardo (who is the leader of the Sharks), meets Tony. She and he fall in love, but are separated by her brother. She is promised to Chino, a young Puerto Rican man. After the dance the two gangs meet, but Tony convinces them to decide the fight by single combat instead of an all-out rumble.

Maria and Tony meet later on that night, and pledge their love. The next evening she meets Tony after work. She asks him to stop the rumble between the Jets and the Sharks. Then they will run away together. He goes to the riverside to separate the fighters, but he is unable to stop the fight, and Bernardo kills Riff. Tony is furious: in a blind rage he kills Bernardo.

The gang scatters. Tony goes to Maria to confess. Next morning there is a knocking on the door, and since Maria is supposed to be alone, Tony leaves. She agrees to meet him in the local drugstore soon--then they will run away together. But the police come to question Maria, and so Anita, Bernardo's girlfriend, agrees to tell Tony that Maria will be late.

When Anita gets to the drugstore, the rest of the Jets are there. They treat her so badly she makes up a lie on the spot. She tells the gang to tell Tony Maria has been shot by Chino, and is dead. Hearing this, Tony runs out into the street, and shouting for Chino to kill him too. Suddenly, at a distance, he sees Maria. They run to meet each other, but at that moment Chino, who has been looking for Tony all that day sees him and shoots. Tony dies in her arms, and Maria is left weeping. The two gangs come together to carry off Tony's body.

Focus: This film is a modernized version of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Pay attention to the kind of cuts that transition from shot to shot. The editing of the dancing sequences is really good! Also pay attention to the use of color and costume as indicators of personality.


Puerto Rico, my heart's devotion
Let it sink back in the ocean!
Always the hurricanes blowing
Always the population growing
And the money owing
And the sunlight streaming
And the natives steaming
I like the island Manhattan
Smoke in your pipe and put that in!

I like to be in America
OK by me in America
Everything free in America
For a small fee in America!

Buying on credit is so nice!
One look at us and they charge twice
I have my own washing machine!
[What do you have] to keep clean?

Skyscrapers bloom in America
[ ]
Industry boom in America
Twelve in a room in America!

Lots of new housing with more space
Lots of doors slamming in our face
I'll get a terrace apartment
Better get rid of your accent

Life can be bright in America
If you can fight in America
Life is all right in America
If you're all white in America

Here you are free and you have pride
Long as you stay on your own side
Free to be anything you choose
Free to wait tables and shine shoes!

Everywhere crime in America
Organized crime in America
Terrible time in America
You forget I'm in America

I think I go back to San Juan
I know a boat you can get on! Bye bye!
Everyone there will give big cheer
Everyone there will have moved here

"When You're a Jet"

When you're a Jet you're a Jet
All the way from you first cigarette to your last dying day
When you're a Jet
Let them do what they can, you've got brothers around
You're a family man!
You're never alone, you're never disconnected
You're home with your own
When company's expected, you're well protected!

Then you are set with a capital "J"
Which you'll never forget till they cart you away.
When you're a Jet you stay a Jet!

When you're a Jet you're a top cat in town
You're a gold medal kid with a heavy weight crown
When you're a Jet you're the swinginest thing
Little boy you're a man, little man, you're a king
The Jets are in gear, our cylinders are clickin'
[You'd better get] clear
Cause every Puerto Rican's a lousy chicken!

Here come the Jets like a bat out of Hell
Someone gets in our way, someone don't feel so well
Here come the Jets, [let the] world step aside
[Better stay out of] town, better run, better hide

We're drawing a line, so keep your noses hidden
We're hanging a sign that says business forbidden--
And we ain't kiddin'
Here come the Jets and we're gonna beat every last f---
gang on the whole f--- street!