West Side Story

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Date Submitted: 10/01/2012 01:53 PM

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Mike Jones


May , 2012

West Side Story Research Paper

In 1961, Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins directed one of the most lauded movie musicals ever made. West Side Story’s integration of song, dance, and narrative help to reinvent the classical ideas of William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” into a modern setting. The film received much praise from critics and the public. West Side Story was won ten Academy Awards from its eleven nominations including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor and Actress. (Dirks) The film has won more Academy Awards than other musical film and its soundtrack has made more money than any other album before it. (Dirks)

The West Side Story film is an adaptation of a Broadway musical. The film is about a love story between two people affiliated with rival gangs in the Upper West Side of New York City in the late 1950’s. The two rival gangs are The Jets and The Sharks. The Jets are an American gang led by Riff, whose best friend is Tony, the Jets co-founder. The Sharks are a gang made of Puerto Rican immigrants who are led by Bernando. Tony and Bernando’s sister, Maria, fall in love and try to stop the fighting and conflict between the two rival gangs.

The film of West Side Story boasts an impressive cast. Richard Beymer and Natalie Wood play the main characters of the love story, Tony and Maria, in West Side Story. An almost completely new cast was assembled for the film, with the exception of George Chakiris, who played Riff in the London production of the West Side Story musical. (“West Side Story”) Charkiris played Bernando, leader of the Sharks, in the film. Barbara Luna was considered for the lead female role of Maria, however, Natalie Wood was chosen for the role after her success in Spendor In the Grass, in 1961. (“West Side Story”) Richard Beymer, known for his performance as Peter Van Daan in The Diary of Anne Frank in 1959, was chosen for the lead male role of Tony, which was...