Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2019) on… Guys And Dolls (1955)

Ok, fellas, who’s got the dice? If you’re looking for the “oldest established permanent floating crap game in New York,” then look no further than the 1955 musical Guys And Dolls starring Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra and Vivian Blaine.

With all the big gamblers in town, Nathan Detroit (Frank Sinatra) is looking for a location to hold his floating crap game (since he has to change locations to prevent the police finding it). However, Lt. Brannigan (Robert Keith) is really putting on the heat, and the only place Nathan can find will cost him $1000 (money he doesn’t have). So he makes a bet with Sky Masterson (Marlon Brando) that he can’t get Sgt. Sarah Brown (Jean Simmons) of the Save-A-Soul Mission to go with him to Havana. Sky tries and fails repeatedly, but he is able to convince her when he gives her his marker, promising to provide the otherwise failing mission with at least a dozen sinners for their big prayer meeting. However, he finds himself really falling for her, which becomes a problem when they return and find the gamblers using the mission for their crap game.

Most of the behind-the-scenes stuff about this movie seems to center on the feud between Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra. From what I’ve read, Frank was cast as Nathan Detroit and then found out that the role of Sky Masterson would be bigger and more romantic. However, Marlon Brando was cast in the role, and, at the time, he was a bigger star than Frank, who had been making a comeback after his Oscar win for From Here To Eternity (but not enough yet to have the pull to get the role of Sky Masterson). While Marlon Brando was at first open to working with Frank to improve his own singing, Frank made his feelings known and things went downhill from there. Whatever their problems were offscreen, I think they worked together well onscreen. Prior to my first viewing of this movie, I generally didn’t care for Frank Sinatra, and the only movies of his that I had seen and enjoyed, I liked because of his co-stars. This was the first movie I liked him in, and I’ve had fun watching a few of his other movies, too.

I think this is a wonderful movie! From the start, you can see that everything will be happening in a highly stylized New York City, and that opening is itself quite a lot of fun to watch. But one of my favorite moments from this movie is the whole scene with all the gamblers in the sewer. The whole dance with the gamblers playing craps just seems like one of those things that shouldn’t work, and yet it does (ok, so it’s obvious that the dancers aren’t actually using dice, but you can’t really expect them to, with some of those leaps)! Equally as memorable is when Big Jule (B. S. Pully) forces Nathan Detroit to play craps with him using his own “dice” (which had the spots removed, although he claims to remember where the spots were originally 😉 ). All in all, this is a fun movie, and one I would quite heartily recommend!

This movie is on Blu-ray and DVD individually and on Blu-ray as part of the five film Frank Sinatra Collection from Warner Home Video, and is two hours,

My Rating: 10/10

Audience Rating:

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