'West Side Story'

The film version of 'West Side Story' seems like it has always been part of our collective memories. The sounds and images from the street-gang update of 'Romeo and Juliet' have resonated with us down through the years, as refracted in other movies (like Francis Ford Coppola's 'The Outsiders'), music videos (Michael Jackson's 'Beat It'), Bruce Springsteen lyrics ("There's a ballet being fought out in the alley") and even television shows (this season of 'Glee') so that -- even if you've never seen 'West Side Story' -- you feel you know it. Still, there's a lot about the classic movie musical, released 50 years ago today (on Oct. 18, 1961) that you may not know. Read on to learn about the real-life gangbangers hired for the film, how star Natalie Wood almost got male lead Richard Beymer and herself fired from the film, and how the co-director who was fired in mid-shoot ended up winning an Oscar.