I had never given much thought to the film Guys and Dolls, owing much to my dislike of musicals, but I must say this film opens with a perfectly choreographed charming musical number that -dare I say- swept me off my feet! This 1950’s film adaptation of the very successful Broadway show, stars Marlon Brando (Sky Masterson), Jean Simmons (Sarah Brown), Frank Sinatra (Nathan Detroit), and Vivian Blaine (the only one actually reprising her theatre role as Adelaide) in this tale of love and gambling in the Big Apple.
All Nathan Detroit wants is to find a location to hold the biggest floating crap game in town, but with the cops breathing down his neck it will be harder than he imagined. All Adelaide wants is to marry Nathan, given that they have been engaged for 14 years, it does not seem like much to ask. All Sarah wants is to save a few souls, and her neighbourhood Mission. Along comes Sky Masterson to save the day.
Nathan bets Sky one thousand dollars (the amount he needs to book his location) that he can not get Sarah to go to Cuba with him. Sky makes a proposition to Sarah that if she joins him on his trip to Havana, he will fill her Mission with souls in need of salvation. Let the games begin!
As much as I enjoyed the opening number, not every musical outburst sat right with me. Some fit in perfectly, Adelaide being a nightclub singer meant she gave actual performances, but some came at inopportune moments that changed the tone of the scene. How am I supposed to take it seriously when a large group of supposed degenerate gamblers break into an elaborate dance routine in brightly coloured outfits, it is a mood killer.
Certain songs have become famous, that I did not even realize originated from this play, such as “Luck be a Lady” sung by Brando, YES Brando!
All in all, this production (and it is indeed a production) is meant to be colourful, light, and entertaining. In this day and age we are used to a grittier more realistic type of filmmaking, but if you love Broadway musicals, you will love this.
Interesting note: if you feel like there is something odd with the language of this film, you are noticing the fact that there are no contractions in the dialogue. Ex: “It does not seem possible…”
“…I can not even afford to think…”
-The Goldwyn Touch
-From Stage to Screen
-More Guys and Dolls Stories