The Academy got it right for once in 1961, crowning this masterpiece with 10 Oscars. All these years later, it looks and sounds absolutely stunning - slight reservations about Richard Beymer's Tony apart [I feel guilty about even saying that], it remains an almost flawless representation of what Hollywood does best. Of course, a great part of it is down to Leonard Bernstein's timeless score - Maria, Somewhere, Tonight, America - who could cram so many great songs into a musical these days? [What I've never understood is why Bernstein wasn't nominated for an Oscar]. Jerome Robbins's choreography is breathtaking and executed pefectly by the cast - look at the Cool sequence, particularly the tracking shot, and the exuberant America, and Robert Wise's direction was groundbreaking. Natalie Wood is wonderfully touching as Maria, Rita Moreno a peerless Anita, Russ Tamblyn and George Chakiris are both perfect, the supporting cast committed and working wonderfully as an ensemble.
No film musical has reached these heights since. For all its theatricality, I defy anyone to remain unmoved by the closing sequence. This is one of the indisputable classics of American cinema.