Take note of that codirecting credit for Robbins; this is as much a dancer’s movie as it is a singer’s. That’s not a knock on the glories of the Leonard Bernstein score and Stephen Sondheim’s wonderful lyrics. This tale of star-crossed lovers set against a background of ethnic gangs in 1950s New York is all about big swoony emotions captured in song and, exuberantly, in dance. And even if you find yourself a bit distracted by the weird casting (Wood and Chakiris play Puerto Ricans, and many of the Jets have weird blond dye jobs, perhaps to enhance the contrast between the gangs), you have to admire the way every aspect of the film works toward the emotional impact.
Cast and crew
Robert Wise, Jerome Robbins
Natalie Wood Richard Beymer George Chakiris Rita Moreno Russ Tamblyn Tucker Smith Simon Oakland