8BeanSoup’s review published on Letterboxd:
For those of you who remember growing up in the '70s, you remember that there were only four TV stations (ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS) and no VCRs. You watched what was on when it was on--or you didn't watch at all. (And in my house, you watched it on a B&W television!) I remember one evening when I was six or seven years old that I wanted to watch TV. The other stations featured sports or politics--subjects that were beyond boring to me--and ABC featured West Side Story. I tuned in to the rumble scene, just in time to watch Riff get impaled on Bernardo's switchblade. I quickly shut the TV off, horrified. At that age, I didn't see or understand the "unreality" of the story's presentation; it may as well have been a documentary and I just saw a kid get killed!
For some strange reason, I haven't revisited the film again. It's taken me 45 years to finally see it.
It's a remarkably good film. I was surprised by how short it felt, given the two-and-a-half-hour runtime. The dancing is superb, and it features some great songs.
Some of the attitudes and language are a bit regressive--I'm sure they would be changed if the movie were made today. However, the overall theme of the film is a good one. It portrays racism as a silly, trivial thing that gets in the way of people actually loving each other.