Guys and Dolls

This 1955 movie (available on Amazon Prime and TCM.com) is based on the play that was such a popular little theater staple in the ‘50s and 60s.  The play hit Broadway at least twice with wonderful casts, but we really were attracted because Marlon Brando had a leading role as Sky Masterson in this musical, which meant he actually needed to sing.  With Frank Sinatra as Nathan Detroit, how would Brando fare?  And another acting non-singer, Jean Simmons (Sarah), also had a leading role.  Interestingly, we learned that both Brando and Simmons did their own singing and were quite credible.  Can’t beat the music, which includes some old favorites like “Luck be a Lady” and “Don’t Rock the Boat” (sung by Stubby Kaye as Nicely Nicely, a memorable character!).   Visually, this musical film felt like a play with theatrical sets, and dances that clearly were choreographed to move “across the stage”.  Charming, once you become accustomed to the artifice.  The story of a confirmed gambler (Detroit) looking for a safe site for his craps game while holding off on marrying his longtime girlfriend is the foundation for much dancing and singing.  Along comes a big-time gambler (Masterson) with whom Detroit makes a bet to secure funds for said site.  The bet?  That Masterson can persuade lovely missionary Sarah to accompany him to Havana.  Shenanigans ensue, Masterson discovers that he loves Sarah who is in danger of losing her job after less than stellar conversion results.   No spoilers needed – of course, after much maneuvering, Sarah’s job is saved, and there is a double wedding.   While this is actually more enjoyable on stage, the movie was a pleasant throwback to a 50s musical and earns Top in Genre from us.  

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