Sound of Music vs. West Side Story

In the early 1960s, Robert Wise directed two of the most popular and beloved musicals ever to dance across the big screen. In 1961, he and choreographer Jerome Robbins dramatized the Bernstein and Sondheim musical, West Side Story. Wise followed this ten-Oscar-winning smash with the historical von Trapp family saga, The Sound of Music, in 1965. These two films tower among the best in the genre some fifty years later, as the late 1960s and beyond trended toward cinema verite styling and a marked dropoff of the sentimentality of these films.

So which is the better Robert Wise directed musical film: West Side Story or Sound of Music?

If you're in the West Side Story camp, you have the timeless Romeo and Juliet tale, elevated by some of the most brilliantly directed and choreographed dance/fight scenes in film history. But if you're in Sound of Music's corner, you have the filmed-on-location, stunning Austrian backdrop, with enormously talented Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer as leads, and songs like My Favorite Things, whose melody shifts like a sea change amidst the song's parade of images. If anybody asks, I'm voting for the latter.

Revisit your favorite or enjoy either movie for the first time by checking the AADL catalog for holdings at your local library.


These are both great films, musically and as stories. For those in The Sound of Music camp, here are my observations on the story's well formed plot:

I think West Side Story is the better musical, but Sound of Music is a better film. Tough call!

As an adult I go for the music and choreography of West Side Story, and it fits the stage better. But the Sound of Music filled the screen like no other musical. As a kid I was stunned by the backdrop of the alps. The Do-Re-Mi sequence alone was deserving of an Oscar.

I personally think that West Side Story has a more entertaining plot and better dance sequences. I watched it last night and I loved hearing all the music and singing.

I love this movie it makes me happy

Those are both great stories!