West Side Story (1961)

Natalie Wood as Maria and Richard Beymer as Tony in West Side Story (1961)

Awarded no less than 10 Oscars, this ground-breaking Hollywood musical took song and dance into the heart of the big bad city.

West Side Story was a commercial, critical and box-office smash on its release in 1961. Winner of a staggering 10 Oscars in 1961 (including one for Best Picture), six Golden Globes, a BAFTA and a Grammy. This classic tale of star-crossed lovers on the mean streets of New York — think Romeo and Juliet transported to the fifties — boasts a playbill of sing-along songs such as Tonight, Maria, Somewhere, I Feel Pretty and America and some toe-tapping, finger-snapping dance numbers. 

Updating Romeo and Juliet to a teen gangland setting in late 1950s New York, the movie marked a new standard in integrating choreography, music and storytelling. Lyrics for the musical were by the musical theater titan, Stephen Sondheim and music by equally acclaimed composer Leonard Bernstein

Young lovers Maria (Natalie Wood) and (Tony) Richard Beymer (both with their singing voices dubbed) hardly set the screen alight.  The supporting characters —George Chakiris as Bernardo, leader of the Sharks and Rita Moreno as Anita, Bernardo's girlfriend — think Romeo and Juliet transported to the fifties — fared far better, both picking up Oscar statuettes for delivering on the best roles of their careers.

The songs include Maria, Somewhere, I Feel Pretty and America — there's a great closing credits sequence, too.