Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Essentials- Guys and Dolls (1955)

The Essentials-#18

Guys and Dolls (1955)
I first came into contact with the musical "Guys and Dolls" in high school. When I was a freshman, it was that year's choice for the spring musical. My school put on quite the adaptation of it, very good work by everyone involved. My dad told me of a movie adaptation of the musical months before my school put on their production. When I learned that there was a movie adaptation, and that Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra were the male leads, well I was destined to check this out. I ended up loved the movie quite a bit, a great joy and a good adaptation of the classic musical.

Frank Sinatra plays Nathan Detroit, a gambler in New York City who is under lots of pressure. Detroit has a knack for organizing illegal gambling, but the authorities led by Lt. Brannigan (Robert Keith) are closing in on Detroit's business. Plus, Detroit's fiancee Miss Adelaide (Vivian Blaine) wants to tie the knot with Detroit and for him to pursue legitimate work. Detroit is looking for a garage to hist one of gambling games, but no garage will host due to Brannigan's pressure. Once Detroit finds the Biltmore garage, the owner wants $1000 upfront in advance. To get the money for the garage, Detroit meets an old acquaintance Sky Masterson (Marlon Brando) a gambler who will gamble on anything. Detroit bets Masterson $1000 to take a girl of his choosing to dinner in Havana, Cuba. Detroit chooses Sarah Brown (Jean Simmons) who is a sergeant Save Your Soul Mission, a group committed to anti-gambling. Detroit seems sure that he has bet to win.

Sinatra and Brando are exquisite as Nathan Detroit and Sky Masterson. One thing that shocked me was that Marlon Brando could actually sing. Of course Sinatra sings and he is very good here. But Brando really stands out among the crowd, another reason why Brando was so legendary. Robert Keith is also very good as Lt. Brannigan. One of my very favorite characters is Stubby Kaye's Nicely-Nicely Johnson. The character is charming and funny, brought to life wonderfully by Kaye. 

The women are just as good as the men in this movie. Vivian Blaine and Jean Simmons are great in their roles. Blaine is plays her character very sweet, and has some wonderful dance numbers. Simmons has possibly the hardest role to play. Brown wants to help drunks and gamblers, but she is annoyed that she never moves up in the ranks. She needs a man in her life, but should that man be a gambler?

The movie features great costumes, songs and sets. If you musicals are not your thing, this movie still possesses the power to charm.


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