- Directors: Jerome Robbins 1, Robert Wise 1
- Producers: Robert Wise 1
- Writers: Jerome Robbins, Arthur Laurents, Ernest Lehman
- Genres: Musical, Romance, Drama
- Actors: Natalie Wood 1, Richard Beymer 1
The film opens in the streets of Manhattan in the 1950s. There is a mounting tension set to music (“Prologue”) between a white American gang, the Jets, led by Riff (Russ Tamblyn), and a rival gang of Puerto Rican immigrants (some being white also), the Sharks, led by Bernardo (George Chakiris). The police arrive and the gangs disperse.
Later, the Jets discuss challenging the Sharks to one last all out fight, or “rumble”, that will decide who gets control of the streets, and they will deliver the challenge to the Sharks at a dance later that night. Riff and the other Jets sing about their gang pride (“Jet Song”). Riff decides that his best friend Tony, a co-founder of the Jets who has left the gang to work at a local store, would be the best member of the Jets to present the challenge to the Sharks, despite opposition from Action (Tony Mordente). When Riff visits Tony (Richard Beymer) at the store, Tony tells Riff that he senses something very important is about to happen to him (“Something’s Coming”). Tony initially refuses Riff’s request to meet with the Sharks, but he later changes his mind.
At the bridal shop where she works, Bernardo’s sister, Maria (Natalie Wood) complains to Bernardo’s girlfriend, Anita (Rita Moreno) and other coworkers. Maria believes that Bernardo is overprotective, never allowing her to have enough fun. Bernardo arrives and takes her to the dance. At the gym, the Jets, Sharks and girls are greatly enjoying themselves (“Dance At The Gym”), but the rival gang members and their girlfriends remain apart. Tony and Maria see each other, become infatuated, almost going into a trance-like state and begin to dance, oblivious of the rivalry between their ethnic groups. Bernardo angrily interrupts them and orders Maria home, and tells Tony to stay away from his sister. Tony leaves in a happy daze, singing of his newfound love (“Maria”), while Riff challenges Bernardo to the “war council”, for which they agree to meet at Doc’s drug store.
Wandering onto a playground, Tony sees Maria, and they begin to run toward each other with joy. However, Chino appears and shoots Tony. Maria and a severely wounded Tony reaffirm their love (“Somewhere”), but Tony dies in her arms. The police arrive, along with other Jets and Sharks. Maria takes the gun from Chino and blames the rival gang members for causing the deaths with their hate. When the gang members see Tony dead, some of the Jets lift his body, and the Sharks join them to carry him off. As in Romeo and Juliet, tragedy has brought the feuding between the two sides to an end.