MovieChat Forums > West Side Story (1961) Discussion > Lt. Schrank; More complex than many, if...

Lt. Schrank; More complex than many, if not most people realize:


Lt. Schrank is a more complex person than most people realize. While he definitely hates the newly-arrived Puerto Rican Sharks, due to their culture, ethnicity, nationality and language, he also hates the white European Ethnic American Jets just a tad or two less.

Police prejudice always has been something that has existed in real life, as well as in West Side Story, which is fiction, but closer to reality, as a neighbor of mine put it roughly 12 years ago, when I was on my way to another one of the many screenings of this great, golden oldie-but-keeper of a classic musical, at a movie theatre not far from where I lived.

Back to the subject at hand, however, while Lt. Schrank is quite prejudiced against the Puerto Rican Sharks, it seems like he sides with the Jets, at first, when he banishes the Sharks from the playground after having just broken up the playground skirmish between the two gangs, by saying "All right, Bernardo. Get your friends out of here! Please!", and the Sharks leave. and Lt. Schrank says "Boy oh boy! As if this neighborhood wasn't crummy enough!"

Lt. Schrank's attitudes towards both the Sharks and the Jets alike are even more obvious, however, when after paying a visit to the Jets and Sharks just after they'd had their pre-Rumble War Council, he roughly banishes the Sharks from the Candy Store, and then begins questioning the Jets regarding the whereabouts of their upcoming Rumble with the Sharks. When the Jets refuse to disclose the whereabouts of the Rumble, Lt. Schrank tries to prove that he's on their side by saying, "Look, fellas! I'm for you! I want this beat cleaned up and you can do it for me! I'll even lend a hand if things get rough!"

When the Jets still refuse to answer Lt. Schrank, Lt. Schrank becomes very angry, and says: "Why don't you get smart, you stupid hooligans? I oughta take you down to the station and throw you in the can right now! You and that tin-horn immigrant scum ya come from! How's your old man's D. T.'s, A-Rab? How's the action on your mother's side of the street, Action?" Not only did Lt. Schrank reveal his true attitude towards the Jets, and try to goad Action, who's the most hot-tempered of the Jets, into a physical fight (Action was restrained by the other Jets, however.), but Lt. Schrank also proved that he hated the Jets just a tad or so less than he hated the Sharks.

After the Jets leave the Candy Store, Lt. Schrank then further proves his hostilities towards both the Jets and Sharks even further when he angrily slams out of Doc's Candy Store, promising, "I'll find out where you're gonna rumble! But be sure to finish each other off before I get there! 'Cause if ya don't, I will!"

While I'm here, I'll also add something else to my worries about the upcoming re-make of the 1961 film version of West Side Story: That since cops are much more militant and even more hair-trigger than they used to be, the chances are that, in a re-make of the film West Side Story, that either the cops might actually do what Lt. Schrank threatened to do, or there would be guns used by the Jets and Sharks on each other, rather than fisticuffs and switch-blade knives.



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"Why don't you get smart, you stupid hooligans?"

Well, that IS what adults think of teenagers in gangs.

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Well...(heh heh)Especially cops.

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I'll also add, however, that there's some speculation that in West Side Story, it's also very possible that at least some of the Jets and Sharks are young adults (i. e. in their late-teens to early twenties). Baby-John, the youngest and least mature of the Jets, was clearly a juvenile, however.

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He reminds me of Kojack.

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Simon Oakland did a fabulous job of playing the role of Lt. Schrank.

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I like Simon Oakland. He got a lot of work back then and WSS is likely at the top of his resume. He reminds me of a poor man's Claude Akins. There's a third guy, I think, that I can't think of.

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