Guys and Dolls (film)
|Guys and Dolls|
|Directed by||Joseph L. Mankiewicz|
|Produced by||Samuel Goldwyn|
|Screenplay by||Joseph L. Mankiewicz
|Based on||Guys and Dolls
by Abe Burrows
|Music by||Frank Loesser|
|Editing by||Daniel Mandell|
|Studio||Samuel Goldwyn Productions|
|Running time||150 minutes|
|Box office||$20 million|
Guys and Dolls is a 1955 musical film starring Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra and Vivian Blaine. The film was made by Samuel Goldwyn Productions and distributed by MGM. It was directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who also wrote the screenplay. The film is based on the 1950 Broadway musical by composer and lyricist Frank Loesser, with a book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows based on "The Idyll Of Miss Sarah Brown" and "Blood Pressure", two short stories by Damon Runyon.
Upon Samuel Goldwyn's and Joseph L. Mankiewicz's requests, Frank Loesser wrote three new songs for the film: "Pet Me Poppa", "(Your Eyes Are the Eyes of) A Woman in Love", and "Adelaide", the last written specifically for Sinatra. Five songs in the stage musical were omitted from the movie: "A Bushel and a Peck", "My Time of Day" (although these are heard instrumentally as background music), "I've Never Been In Love Before", "More I Cannot Wish You" and "Marry the Man Today".
Gambler Nathan Detroit (Frank Sinatra) is under pressure from all sides. He has to organize an unlicensed crap game but the police, led by Lieutenant Brannigan (Robert Keith), are "putting on the heat". All the places where Nathan usually holds his games refuse him entry due to Brannigan's intimidating pressure. The owner of the Biltmore garage does agree to host the game provided Nathan pays him $1000 in cash in advance. The garage owner will not even accept a "marker" or IOU, he insists on having the money itself. Adding to Nathan's problems, his fiancée, Miss Adelaide (Vivian Blaine), a nightclub singer, wants to bring an end to their 14-year engagement and actually tie the knot. She also wants him to go straight, but organizing illegal gambling is the only thing he's good at.
Trying to obtain the money for the garage, Nathan meets an old acquaintance, Sky Masterson (Marlon Brando), a gambler willing to bet on virtually anything and for high amounts. Nathan proposes a $1000 bet by which Sky must take a girl of Nathan's choosing to dinner in Havana, Cuba. The bet seems impossible for Sky to win when Nathan nominates Sergeant Sarah Brown (Jean Simmons), a straight-walking sister at the Save a Soul Mission (based on the Salvation Army) which opposes gambling.
Sarah herself has problems. She has been in charge of the Broadway branch of the Mission for some time now and no drunks or gamblers have come in to confess or reform. To approach Sarah, Sky pretends that he is a gambler who wants to change. Sarah sees how expensively dressed he is and she is suspicious: "It's just so unusual for a successful sinner to be unhappy about sin."
Seeing that the Mission is and has been empty and unsuccessful, "a store full of repentance and no customers", Sky suggests a bargain. He will get a dozen sinners into the Mission for her Thursday night meeting in return for her having dinner with him in Havana. With General Matilda Cartwright (Kathryn Givney) threatening to close the Broadway branch for lack of participation, Sarah has little choice left, and agrees to the date.
Meanwhile, confident that he will win his bet with Sky, Nathan has gathered together all the gamblers, including a visitor that tough-guy Harry the Horse (Sheldon Leonard) has invited: Big Jule (B.S. Pully), a Chicago mobster. When Lieutenant Brannigan appears and notices this gathering of "senior delinquents", all gathered at Mindys, Nathan's sidekick, Benny Southstreet (Johnny Silver), covers it up by claiming that they are celebrating the fact that Nathan is getting married to Adelaide. Nathan is shocked by this, but is forced to play along. Later, when he notices the Save a Soul Mission band passing by and sees that Sarah is not among them, he collapses on the realization that he has lost his bet with Sky. He has no money and nowhere to house the crap game, and, since Adelaide was present at the "wedding announcement" Benny Southstreet dreamed up, he is now apparently committed to actually marrying Adelaide. He does love Adelaide, but is uneasy about going straight, either maritally or lawfully.
Over the course of their short stay in Cuba, Sky manages to break down Sarah's social inhibitions, partly through disguised alcoholic drinks (several glasses of milk with Bacardi added "as a preservative"), and they begin to fall in love with one another. He even confesses that the whole date was part of a bet, but she forgives him as she realizes that his love for her is sincere.
They return to Broadway at dawn and meet the Save a Soul Mission band which, on Sky's advice, has been parading all night. At that moment police sirens can be heard, and before they know it the gamblers led by Nathan Detroit are hurrying out of a back room of the Mission, where they took advantage of the empty premises to hold the crap game.
The police arrive too late to make any arrests, but Lieutenant Brannigan finds the absence of Sarah and the other Save a Soul members too convenient to have been a coincidence. He implies that it was all Sky's doing: "Masterson, I had you in my big-time book. Now I suppose I'll have to reclassify you — under shills and decoys". Sarah is equally suspicious and she dumps Sky there and then, refusing to accept his denials.
But Sky still has to make good his arrangement with Sarah to provide sinners to the Mission. Sarah would rather forget the whole thing, but Uncle Arvide Abernathy (Regis Toomey), who acts as a kind of father figure to her, warns Sky that "If you don't make that marker good, I'm going to buzz it all over town you're a welcher."
Nathan has continued the crap game in a sewer. With his revolver visible in its shoulder holster, Big Jule, who has lost all his money, forces Nathan to play against him while he cheats, cleaning Nathan out. Sky enters and knocks Big Jule down and removes his pistol. Sky, who has been stung and devastated by Sarah's rejection, lies to Nathan that he lost the bet about taking her to Havana, and pays Nathan the $1000. Nathan tells Big Jule he now has money to play him again, but Harry the Horse says that Big Jule can't play without cheating because "he cannot make a pass to save his soul". Sky overhears this, and the phrasing inspires him to make a bold bet: He will roll the dice, and if he loses he will give all the other gamblers $1000 each; if he wins they are all to attend a prayer meeting at the Mission.
The Mission is near to closing when suddenly the gamblers come parading in, taking up most of the room. Sky won the roll. They grudgingly confess their sins, though they show little sign of repentance: "Well ... I was always a bad guy. I was even a bad gambler. I would like to be a good guy and a good gambler. I thank you." Even Big Jule declares: "I used to be bad when I was a kid. But ever since then I've gone straight, as I can prove by my record — 33 arrests and no convictions." Nicely-Nicely Johnson (Stubby Kaye) however, recalling a dream he had the night before, seems to have an authentic connection to the Mission's aim, and this satisfies everyone.
When Nathan tells Sarah that Sky lost the Cuba bet, which she knows he won, she hurries off in order to make up with him.
It all ends with a double wedding in the middle of Times Square, with Sky marrying Sarah, and Nathan marrying Adelaide, who is given away by Lieutenant Brannigan. Arvide Abernathy performs the dual ceremony. Nicely-Nicely has joined the Save a Soul Mission, and he and General Matilda Cartwright are sweet on each other. As the film closes, the two newlywed couples are escorted from the wedding to their respective love nests inside police cars, with lights festively flashing and sirens blaring.
Casting the movie 
Robert Alda had originated the role of Sky Masterson on Broadway in 1950. For the movie, Gene Kelly, then one of the screen's greatest dancers, at first seemed a serious candidate for the part. Instead it went to Marlon Brando, one of the screen's greatest actors, partly because MGM would not loan Kelly for the production, but also because Goldwyn wanted to cast Brando, the world's biggest box office draw at that moment. The film ended up being distributed by MGM, Kelly's home studio.
Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly were also considered for the parts of Adelaide and Sarah respectively. Mankiewicz refused to work with Monroe, probably as a result of his experiences while filming All About Eve, in which she had appeared.
Robert Keith plays police Lieutenant Brannigan, and one of his targets is Sky Masterson. Keith had matched wits with Brando before in the part of a sheriff facing Brando's reckless biker in The Wild One.
- Marlon Brando as Sky Masterson
- Jean Simmons as Sister Sarah Brown
- Frank Sinatra as Nathan Detroit
- Vivian Blaine as Miss Adelaide
- Stubby Kaye as Nicely-Nicely Johnson
- Robert Keith as Lieutenant Brannigan
- Sheldon Leonard as Harry the Horse
- Regis Toomey as Arvide Abernathy
- B.S. Pully as Big Jule
- Johnny Silver as Benny Southstreet
- The Goldwyn Girls as the Hot Box Girls (uncredited), including June Kirby, Pat Sheehan and Larri Thomas.
Awards and nominations 
- Academy Awards
- BAFTA Awards
- Nominated for Best Film from any Source
- Nominated for Best Foreign Actress: Jean Simmons
- Golden Globe Awards
In 2004, the AFI ranked the song Luck Be a Lady at #42 on their list of the 100 greatest film songs, AFI's 100 Years... 100 Songs. In 2006 Guys and Dolls ranked #23 on the American Film Institute's list of best musicals.
Critical reception and commercial success 
Guys and Dolls opened on November 3, 1955 to mostly good reviews. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 86% of critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 6.9/10. Casting Marlon Brando has long been somewhat controversial, although Variety wrote "The casting is good all the way." This was the only Samuel Goldwyn film released through MGM. With an estimated budget of over $5 million, it garnered rentals in excess of $13 million. Variety ranked it as the #1 moneymaking film of 1956. When a film is released late in a calendar year (October to December), its income is reported in the following year's compendium, unless the film made a particularly fast impact. Guys and Dolls went on to gross $1.1 million in the UK, $1 million in Japan, and over $20 million dollars globally.
However, the film has been criticized by some critics and by the surviving family of Frank Loesser, who wrote the music and lyrics. Loesser had a very public disagreement with Sinatra, considering him totally wrong for the role of Nathan Detroit, who, in the stage version, was played by the gruff-voiced Sam Levene, who was not really a singer. Loesser felt that Sinatra was too slick for the role of Nathan and strongly disliked the way he "crooned" Nathan's songs. This resulted in Loesser and Sinatra never speaking to each other again after the film was finished. Others have criticized the smooth, mellow-voiced gambler Sky Masterson being played by the non-singer Brando, who, according to a biography of Samuel Goldwyn by Arthur Marx, was cast simply because he was then the hottest rising star in Hollywood. Nevertheless, Brando sings in the film and received praise for his vocal performance.
- "Damon Runyon". Authors. The eBooks-Library. Retrieved 2008-07-20.
- Guys and Dolls (1955/I) - Trivia
- On the Waterfront (1954) - Trivia
- Jean Simmons (I) - Biography
- Kurtti, Jeff (1996). The Great Hollywood Musical Trivia Book. New York: Applause Books. p. 41. ISBN 1-55783-222-6.
- "NY Times: Guys and Dolls". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-22.
- Guys and Dolls at the Internet Movie Database
- Guys and Dolls at AllRovi
- Guys and Dolls at Rotten Tomatoes
- Guys and Dolls at the TCM Movie Database
- Variety Review