This brilliant (The New Republic) film sets the ageless story of Romeo and Juliet against a backdrop of gang warfare in 1950s New York. Directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins and scripted by Ernest Lehman, the film combines Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim's unforgettable score ( Maria, America, 'somewhere, 'tonight ) with Robbins own exuberant choreography to achieve an exhilarating work of art (Saturday Review). A love affair is fated for tragedy amidst the vicious rivalry of two street gangsthe Jets and the Sharks. When Jets member Tony (RichardBeymer) falls for Maria (Natalie Wood), the sister of the Sharks leader, it's more than these two warring gangs can handle. And as mounting tensions rise, a battle to the death ensues, and innocent blood is shed in a heartbreaking finale.