West Side Story (1961)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
German title West Side Story
Original title West Side Story
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1961
length 151 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director Robert Wise
Jerome Robbins
script Ernest Lehman
production Robert Wise
music Leonard Bernstein ,
editing: Saul Chaplin
camera Daniel L. Fapp
cut Thomas Stanford

West Side Story is an American dance film directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins from 1961. It is based on the musical West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein . Stephen Sondheim wrote the lyrics and Arthur Laurent wrote the libretto . The Mirisch Corporation production distributed by United Artists won ten Academy Awards .


After the overture you can see the city of New York from a bird's eye view . The camera searches the neighborhood of two rival gangs and finds them on a basketball court: the "Jets", white Americans under their leader Riff, and the "Sharks" who have immigrated from Puerto Rico with their leader Bernardo. Then the instrumental prologue begins, in which both gangs provoke each other. They deliver a kind of "dance duel" which almost turns into a serious brawl. The police anticipate that. Lieutenant Wardrobe and Officer Krupke finally want peace in their neighborhood and send the Sharks away under threat of physical violence.

The Jets hold a crisis meeting to discuss how to fight the Sharks, which they finally want to chase away. The girl Anybodys tries to gain respect in the gang, which the other members block. During the course of the session, the thought grows of asking Tony, an experienced founding member, for help so that he and Riff can challenge the leader of the Sharks to final combat. You want to use the ball on the same evening as a place of negotiation. At the end Riff starts the "Jet-Song", which the others enthusiastically join. Riff then goes to Tony and explains his concern to him. Tony is not enthusiastic about the idea - he now has a job at Doc's Drugstore. However, he agrees to come with me in the evening.

The following scene takes place in the Latino tailors' room. Maria, Bernardo's sister who recently came to America, is not satisfied with the cut of her new ball gown. She wants to persuade Bernardo's friend Anita to enlarge it. However, after trying it on, she is delighted with it. Bernardo and his buddy Chino, whom Maria should marry if possible, appear and go to the ball with them a short time later.

At the ball, there was initially some irritation among the Latinos because the emissaries of the jets had come. During the dance, the mood becomes more and more exuberant, while Maria and Tony meet for the first time. The two are instantly madly in love with each other. You dance the "jump" and want to kiss. However, Maria should dance chinos with her future husband and certainly not with a jet. When Bernardo notices the lovers, he gets angry and separates the two. The ball is declared over and Maria von Chino is brought home. Tony walks through town drunk with love and sings "Maria". Meanwhile, the Puerto Ricans meet on a rooftop and discuss the evening. The discussion degenerates into a dispute about the new and the old homeland. In the song "America" ​​the different positions emerge as to which country is the better. Tony could now visit Maria unnoticed. The two sing "Tonight" and arrange to meet for the next day.

The Jets are now holding a council of war in Doc's Drugstore to determine the terms of the final battle. Officer Krupke sends them away, but after he has gone on, the jets make fun of him in "Gee, Officer Krupke". The friendly shopkeeper Doc shows up and pleads for peace. But his position is rejected. With the Sharks, who appear later, they negotiate a fair, unarmed duel among the leaders as the last fight. Then Lieutenant Wardrobe shows up. He throws out the Sharks and tries to get out of the jets when the fight should take place. Allegedly he even wants to help them because he also wants to drive away the Sharks in order to "finally have peace in the quarters". But the jets do not reveal anything, they want to win the fight "fairly".

The next day, Maria looks forward to meeting Tony in the bridal shop, where she works. She makes mysterious remarks to her friends and happily sings "I Feel Pretty". When Tony arrives, Anita is still in the business and finds out about the relationship. However, she promises to remain silent about it and soon leaves. Maria and Tony play wedding alone in the bridal shop. They sing "One Hand, One Heart". When Maria hears about the "last fight", she convinces Tony to prevent it. Next you see the Jets singing Sharks, then Anita and Maria and Tony, "Tonight". However, they all sing it in their own way - as an expression of what they expect from “tonight”: Jets and Sharks bellicose, Anita happy, and Maria and Tony romanticized and hopeful.

Soon the gangs will meet under the motorway bridge for the final fight. Tony wants to keep the promise he made to Maria and tries to prevent the big fight. He stands between the fighting and pleads for a peaceful solution, but he is only ridiculed as a coward, and the leaders want to fight the fight now even more. The others get restless. Suddenly Riff and Bernardo have a knife in their hand. Just as Riff is about to stab Bernardo, Tony prevents him from doing it. Riff runs towards Bernardo, but is held back by Tony. At this point comes the extremely tragic turning point: precisely because Tony is holding Riff, he is fatally injured by Bernardo's knife. Furious with rage, Tony takes the knife that the dying reef has put into his hand and kills Bernardo in an affect. There is a fight. Then the police appear and the rest of the gang members can escape in time.

Shortly afterwards, Chino tells Maria that the fight was bad. Maria doesn't want to believe him at first - she had hoped Tony would prevent the fight - but Chino tells her that Tony killed Bernardo. However, he does not tell her anything about Bernardo's murder on Riff. Maria is shocked. While she is praying in front of an altar, Tony comes and shows her the exact course of the disaster. He wants to face the police. But Maria is against it and together they sing "Somewhere".

The Jets are now holding an emergency meeting. You are completely confused. Ice, the new leader of the Jets, sings the song "Cool", with which he tries to calm his angry gang members. Anybodys informs the others that Chino wants to kill Tony in revenge. You decide to warn Tony. As a “reward”, Anybodys becomes a full member of the Jets. Meanwhile, Tony and Maria devise an escape plan, but are surprised by Anita. However, Tony manages to flee the window in time. Anita is very disappointed in Maria and sings "A Boy Like That". But Maria confesses her love for Tony to her friend. Then Anita understands that Maria loves Tony as much as she loved Bernardo. She sings "I Have A Love". Anita tells Maria about Chino's intention to kill Tony. When the police lieutenant cabinet appears for interrogation, Anita goes to the drugstore at Maria's request to warn Tony.

The jets in the drugstore prevent Anita from speaking to Tony. She tries to speak to him anyway, but the Jets get violent and are about to rape her. Doc prevents her from doing so and is very upset about her behavior. Humiliated and full of hatred, Anita then falsified the message and had Tony tell Doc that Chino shot Maria. Doc delivers the message to Tony. Tony collapses and runs desperately through the city in search of Chino, who should kill him and relieve him of his suffering. Then he sees Maria, who comes to Doc's drugstore as agreed, approaching him and rushes towards her joyfully. At that moment he is shot by Chino. When Maria kneels over Tony's corpse, the jets, Sharks and later the police join them. Maria is full of hatred for the two gangs and full of grief, takes the gun from Chino, but is unable to kill herself or the others. She curses the hatred that killed three people.

At the end of the film, the Jets and Sharks carry Tony's lifeless body away together. They form a funeral march in the hope that the two gangs will be reconciled. Chino is arrested by the police for the murder of Tony.


Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins are named equally as directors in the opening credits: For Wise it was the first film musical, so that he was still inexperienced with the peculiarities of the genre such as the dance scenes, while the experienced choreographer Robbins had already worked on West Side Story on Broadway , but was inexperienced in the film business. Wise focused on the dramatic scenes and the technical aspects of the film, while Robbins worked on the music scenes with the dances. According to Wises, this collaboration went well until filming was delayed and Robbins was withdrawn from the film while it was being made. Fortunately, Robbins had practiced all the choreographies for the rest of the dance scenes, so Wise was able to finish the filming well.

As is often the case with music films from this period, the main roles were cast by well-known actors and the singing was doubled by singers (usually opera or musical singers). The part of Maria took over the American soprano Marni Nixon , who also lent her voice to Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady and Deborah Kerr in The King and I as well as Marilyn Monroe in Blondes, preferably in the song Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend, in the high pitches . Jim Bryant can be heard in the role of Tony . Rita Moreno sang her own songs as Anita, with the exception of the song A Boy Like That , in which she was dubbed by Betty Wand . The singer doubles were not mentioned either in the film credits or on the corresponding record albums. The names are only listed in later editions of the soundtrack on CD .

Music numbers

first act

  1. "Overture" orchestra
  2. "Prologue" orchestra
  3. "Jet Song" - Riff and the Jets
  4. "Something's Coming" - Tony
  5. "Dance at the Gym" - Orchestra (dances: "Blues", "Promenade", " Mambo ", " Cha-Cha-Cha ", "Meeting Scene", "Jump")
  6. "Maria" - Tony
  7. " America " - Anita, Bernardo, the Sharks and their friends
  8. " Tonight " - Tony and Maria
  9. "Gee, Officer Krupke" - Riff and the Jets
  10. "Maria" orchestra

Second act

  1. "I Feel Pretty" - Maria, Anita, Consuelo, Rosalia and Francisca
  2. "One Hand, One Heart" - Tony and Maria
  3. "Tonight Quintet" - Maria, Tony, Riff, Anita, Bernardo, the Jets and Sharks
  4. "The Rumble" orchestra
  5. " Somewhere " - Tony and Maria
  6. "Cool" - Ice and the Jets
  7. "A Boy Like That / I Have a Love" - ​​Anita and Maria
  8. "Somewhere" (repeat) - Maria
  9. "Finale" - orchestra


The dubbed version was created for the German cinema premiere in 1962.

role actor German Dubbing voice
Maria Natalie Wood Uta Hallant
Tony Richard Beymer Michael Chevalier
Reef, leader of the jets Russ Tamblyn Thomas Eckelmann
Anita Rita Moreno Lola Luigi
Bernardo, leader of the Sharks George Chakiris Herbert Stass
Lieutenant closet Simon Oakland Arnold Marquis
Officer Krupke William Bramley Reinhard Kolldehoff
Doc, shopkeeper Ned Glass Walter Bluhm
Ice, Jets member Tucker Smith Eckart Dux
Action, Jets member Tony Mordente Wolfgang Condrus
Baby John, Jets member Eliot Field Arne Elsholtz
A-Rab, Jets member David Winters Wolfgang Draeger
Anybodys, boyish girl Susan Oakes Ilse Pagé
Social worker at dance John Astin Bruno W. Pantel
Velma, friend of the jets Carole D'Andrea Beate Hasenau
police officer Lou Ruggerio Gerd Duwner


“The 'Romeo and Juliet' theme in a poor neighborhood of New York inhabited by Puerto Ricans: the bloody argument between two gangs of youngsters, intertwined with a pseudo-tragic love story. As a musical with the fascinating music of Leonard Bernstein of remarkable quality, which is based on the harmony of brilliant dance performances, optical ideas and successful parody of the milieu. In the second half of the film, sentimentality and lurid drama gain the upper hand. "


The film was nominated for eleven Oscars at the 1962 Academy Awards and received ten of them, making it one of the most highly decorated works in film history.

The film also received three Golden Globe Awards for Best Musical, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Supporting Actor, for the same actors who won the Oscars.

The soundtrack for the film received a Grammy Award .

In 1997 the film was entered into the National Film Registry .


  • Leonard Bernstein , Arthur Laurents , Stephen Sondheim : West Side Story. Text book (English - German) . German by Frank Thannhäuser and Nico Rabenald. Introduction and commentary by Kurt Pahlen. With the collaboration of Rosmarie König. Series Music Atlantis, Schott, Volume 8046: Operas of the World. Atlantis music book, Zurich / Mainz 2002, ISBN 3-254-08046-7 .
  • Hans-Jürgen Kubiak: The Oscar Films. The best films from 1927/28 to 2004. The best non-English language films from 1947 to 2004. The best animated films from 2001 to 2004. Marburg, Schüren 2005, ISBN 978-3-89472-386-6 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Certificate of Approval for West Side Story . Voluntary self-regulation of the film industry , August 2011 (PDF; test number: 28 741 V).
  2. ^ Robert Wise - West Side Story. American Film Institute , March 29, 2018, accessed August 19, 2018 .
  3. Andrew J. Rausch: “Sure I'll Do It”: An Interview with Robert Wise. In: Bright Lights Film Journal. January 2, 2002, accessed August 19, 2018 .
  4. Gereon Stein: West Side Story - synchrondatenbank.de. Retrieved May 27, 2019 .
  5. German synchronous index: German synchronous index | Movies | West Side Story. Retrieved January 9, 2018 .
  6. ^ West Side Story. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed October 3, 2016 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used