West Side Story, 1961

Two opposing gangs fight over who owns which part of the neighborhood. However, just like in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, there are two who fight to belong to each other. The escalating fights bring deaths to both sides.

West Side Story was directed by Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise who shared the Best Director Oscar. This movie won ten Oscars: Best actor in a supporting role: George Chakiris; Best Actress in a supporting role: Rita Moreno; Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color; Best Cinematography, Color; Best Costume Design, Color; Best Director; Best Film Editing; Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture; Best Picture; and Best Sound.

Natalie Wood played Maria, the beautiful heroine who was in love with the wrong man. Tony was played by Richard Beymer. The two of them made the movie so much more than a dance fight. Russ Tamblyn played Riff. He was in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers in 1954. He’s a recognizable face in dance movies.

The fabulous Rita Moreno played Anita. She was in Singing in the Rain in 1952 and The King and I in 1956. She was also memorable in her many roles during 780 episodes of The Electric Company in the 1970s.

George Chakiris played Bernardo. This was his first major role in a film. Until this movie in 1961, he’d been a very popular, yet uncredited, dancer. In 1954, he was a dancer in Brigadoon (with Gene Kelly), There’s No Business Like Show Business (with Ethel Merman and Donald O’Connor), The Country Girl (with Grace Kelly and Bing Crosby) and White Christmas (with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye).