Friday, February 28, 2014

285. Guys and Dolls (1955)

Running Time: 149 minutes
Directed By: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Written By: Joseph L. Mankiewicz, from play by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows and the story The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown by Damon Runyon
Main Cast: Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra, Vivian Blaine, Stubby Kaye
Click here to view the trailer

Note: As it pertains to the "COMING SOON" list I posted at the end of the "Ikiru" review, I'll be replacing Nicholas Roeg's "Don't Look Now" with David Lynch's "Eraserhead". It turns out that the link that I was going to use for "Don't Look Now" isn't working properly. However, Youtube has it up for $2.99, which I'll get next week instead of this week. That's all of today's new business. Carry on...


I was off today, which meant I could stay up a little later last night (as late as my eyelids would allow anyway), therefore I knew it would be the opportune time to take out one of the longer films in my current pile. That meant either "Das Boot" or "Guys and Dolls" and since I wasn't feeling particularly submarine like last night, I went with the singing & dancing.

The year was 1955. My mother was born, Robert Mitchum transformed into satan himself - in the form of a preacher for "The Night of the Hunter" and Marlon Brando laced up his dancing shoes and did a cool, saltwater gargle to tune up the pipes for "Guys and Dolls", alongside 'Ol Blue Eyes. The film really doesn't have much of a plot and relies more heavily on the musical numbers. Set in New York City, Sinatra plays Nathan Detroit, operator of NYC's oldest running, permanent floating crap game and all he needs is a location and 1,000 smackers and he can get the game running and hopefully make a pile of dough. He has several problems: for one his fiance of fourteen years thinks he's quit the crap game and for two he doesn't have a nickel to his name. Enter Sky Masterson (Brando), a man who once bet another man which rain drop would slide down a window faster. Detroit schemes to make a bet with Masterson that he can't lose - enter Sarah Brown (Simmons), a sister at the Save a Soul Mission. Sky bets Nathan that he can take any "doll" to Havana with him the following night and even allows Nathan to pick the dame. Nathan, scheming hard, picks Sgt. Sarah Brown and follows the progress as Sky tries his best to woo her. That's the blueprints for the film and honestly, it's as predictable as it sounds, so you can go ahead and fill in the rest of the blanks for yourself, I'm sure.

Honestly don't have a lot to say regarding this one, so we'll keep it short today. Any redeeming qualities this film had began and ended with Marlon Brando. While I wasn't crazy about watching him sing & dance, I'll admit that he did fine with the role and was one cool customer. He really is as good as they say he is - believe the hype! Seriously, forget "The Godfather" (the film I always knew Brando for), as Brando was at his prime long before that in films like this and his roles under the direction of Elia Kazan. I'm still looking for that definitive Brando favorite, but have no doubts that I'll eventually find it. As it is, I tend to love him in everything I see him in (while not always loving the film itself) and just have a lot of fun watching him, marveling at his talents. On the other hand, I think I'm sick to death of Frank Sinatra. I honestly had no idea he had so many film roles, furthermore, so many that could be considered "must see". This has gotta' be like the fourth film he's been in for THE BOOK and honestly, I just don't like him as an actor. As a singer - well that's another story, as I do quite enjoy the man belt one out.

Here, the songs are infectious, but that's about it (besides Brando, of course). My personal favorite being "If I Were a Bell". I also liked the one with the girls doing the cat number too - that was cute. Upon further reading, I find out that Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly were considered for the roles of Adelaide and Sarah respectively and honestly, that may have made a difference. Honestly, I didn't care much for Jean Simmons and Vivian Blaine seemed to just be playing Marilyn Monroe anyway. I think watching Brando lust after Kelly would've been much more appealing. Also, what was with the way they talked in this movie, using "cannot" instead of "can't" and "will not" instead of "won't" - speaking very square like that all the time. Who knows...

Anyway, this one gives fun in small increments, kind of like the neighborhood kid wailing snow balls and hitting only half the time. You've got Brando and the solid songs on the pro side, but the dull, very predictable plot and the tiresome acting of the rest of the cast on the con side. You may like it, you may hate it - count me in the middle somewhere.

RATING: 6/10  Very *meh* film that I could've done without. But, hey, I've seen it and it's now in the history books so let's move on. I really could go for another great one right about now.


February 28, 2014  5:44pm


  1. You make me feel old..
    Your Mum was born in 1955? I was born in 1955....

    This will be short.. It's a musical.. and I'm not a musical fan. I didn't want to violently sick as some have (No names, but Julie Andrews may wish to look elsewhere..).. It was just a film to get through.
    Enough. Move on

    1. It was easier than "just get through it" for me, but then again, I tend to have fun with musicals.


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