Considered one of the most popular musicals of all time, WEST SIDE STORY earned director Robert Wise an Oscar for Best Director as well as nine other Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Realistically portrayed characters and their surroundings and expert editing complementing innovative dance sequences mark this highly stylized modern-day Romeo and Juliet tale. The stage is set in New York's Upper West Side in the 1950s, where the area's slums are plagued by racial tensions acted on by two rival gangs: the Puerto Rican Sharks and the Caucasian Jets. In the middle of this mess is young, innocent Maria (Natalie Wood), a Puerto Rican seamstress whose brother, Bernardo (George Chakiris), is the leader of the Sharks. Despite the warnings of Anita (Rita Moreno), Bernardo's fiery girlfriend, Maria falls in love with a young, hopeful Polish boy, Tony (Richard Beymer), who used to belong to the Jets, now headed by Riff (Russ Tamblyn). When Tony, on Maria's urging, tries to stop a rumble between the gangs, tragedy ensues, marking their dedicated love affair with violence and desperation. The infectious, lyrical landmark score by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim help round out one of the greatest musical experiences ever captured on film.
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