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  • Running Press Adult

West Side Story: The Jets, the Sharks, and the Making of a Classic

Richard Barrios

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With its classic story, dynamic choreography, and unforgettable music, West Side Story (1961) is a cinematic and cultural touchstone like no other. As a remake by Steven Spielberg makes its way to theaters in December 2020, the stage is set for this engrossing narrative and visual account of the making of a pop culture phenomenon.

A major hit on Broadway, on film WEST SIDE STORY became immortal-a movie different from anything that had come before, but this cinematic victory came at a price. In this engrossing volume, film historian Richard Barrios recounts how the drama and rivalries seen onscreen played out to equal intensity behind-the-scenes, while still achieving extraordinary artistic feats.

The making and impact of WEST SIDE STORY has so far been recounted only in vestiges. In the pages of this book, the backstage tale comes to life along with insight on what has made the film a favorite across six decades: its brilliant use of dance as staged by erstwhile co-director Jerome Robbins; a meaningful story, as set to Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim's soundtrack; the performances of a youthful ensemble cast featuring Natalie Wood, Rita Moreno, George Chakiris, and more; a film with Shakespearean roots (Romeo and Juliet) that is simultaneously timeless and current. WEST SIDE STORY was a triumph that appeared to be very much of its time; over the years it has shown itself to be eternal.

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