Guys and Dolls

It's a living breathing doll of a musical!

Comedy Crime Romance
150 min     6.564     1955     USA

Overview

Gambler Nathan Detroit has few options for the location of his big craps game. Needing $1,000 to pay a garage owner to host the game, Nathan bets Sky Masterson that Sky cannot get virtuous Sarah Brown out on a date. Despite some resistance, Sky negotiates a date with her in exchange for bringing people into her mission. Meanwhile, Nathan's longtime fiancée, Adelaide, wants him to go legit and marry her.

Reviews

John Chard wrote:
I've always been a bad guy, and a bad gambler. From now on, I would like to be a good guy, and a good gambler. I thank you. Guys and Dolls is directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and collectively adapted to screen from the play by Mankiewicz, Jo Swerling, Abe Burrows and Damon Runyon. It stars Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra, Vivian Blaine, Robert Keith, Stubby Kaye, Sheldon Leonard, B.S. Pully and Johnny Silver. Music is by Frank Loesser and cinematography by Harry Stradling Sr. Gambler Nathan Detroit (Sinatra) has few options for the location of his big craps game. Needing $1,000 to pay a garage owner to host the game, Nathan bets Sky Masterson (Brando) that Sky cannot get virtuous Sarah Brown (Simmons) out on a date. Despite some resistance, Sky negotiates a date with her in exchange for bringing people into her mission. Meanwhile, Nathan's longtime fiancée, Adelaide (Blaine), wants him to go legit and marry her. Having never seen the play I have no frame of reference about the transfer to the big screen. Whilst concurring with the strongly held belief that both Brando and Sinatra are indeed miscast, the former a great actor who can barely sing, the latter a great singer given the wrong character role to play, the pic still comes out in credit for joyful entertainment. Samuel Goldwyn forked out big money to put the source to the silver screen, and it shows as no expense is spared across the production (though Goldwyn was hugely disappointed with the box office returns). The songs are simple but all hit the foot tapping mark, the dancing choreography superb, while the booming colour photography gladdens the eyes. All told, Mankiewicz, directing his first ever musical, does a fine job. One has to wonder how much better the pic could have been if MGM had of released Gene Kelly to play Sky Masterson, while in truth the pic is 30 minutes too long. Yet with Simmons and Blaine beguiling, and Stubby Kaye superb, it's easy to forgive the flaws and just sit back and enjoy the colourful ride. 7/10
Peter McGinn wrote:
I think I used to like musicals more than I do now, or else I am more particular about them. I wasn’t over impressed with this classic. The acting was credible and the plot jumped along nicely. It oh, the music. When they jump into song, you are not supposed to wish they were still speaking, are you? And it wasn’t even the quality of the singing; I don’t have all that a discerning ear for music. The songs just didn’t appeal to me, andnthatbisnthe point with a musical, right? Perhaps it is just me. Maybe I have listened to the pulse station on Sirius satellite too long and I require a hook to pull me in.
CinemaSerf wrote:
Despite the reported controversy over who played whom in this enjoyable adaption of Damon Runyon's short stories, I reckon they got the choice right. Frank Sinatra is "Nathan Detroit" host of a legendary weekly crap game in New York. Only this week, with some big out-of-town hitters including legend "Sky Masterson" (Marlon Brando) in town - he can't find a venue, unless he can find $1,000. Catch 22? Brando, meantime is bet that he cannot get hoity-toity local Christian mission Sergeant "Sarah Brown" (Jean Simmons) to go to Havana with him. There is a bet riding on just about everything here.... What sets this apart for me, is that it is dominated by the male characters; there are few of the traditionally heavily choreographed dance routines; the characterisations have more punch - especially a slick and suave Brando & Simmons; and the casting is driven by cinema not theatre box office stars. Now nobody will ever be able to say that Brando was a natural born crooner; but that didn't matter - his rendition of Frank Loesser's "Luck be a Lady" has charm and a certain joie-de-vivre that we wouldn't necessarily have achieved from a more professional stage performer. Likewise, Jean Simmons delivers well as the puritanical salvationist whilst charmingly working her way through "A Woman In Love" & "Follow the Fold" (with Brando). Of course Sinatra is in is element with "Adelaide" his ode to Vivian Blaine who is great, reprising her 1950 Broadway performance as Sinatra's frequently put-upon gal, with a super song and dance routine to "Pet Me Poppa", too. In the end, though, I think the plaudits actually belong to Stubby Kaye ("Nicely-Nicely") for his corking ensemble lead of "Sit Down You're Rockin' the Boat". To it's detriment, there is little chemistry between the the two leads and that really does come across - at times like two spatting cats, but generally it is a pacy, stylish spin on spivs and gangsters that certainly made me smile and tap my toes.

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