Friday, November 29, 2013

Movie #228: Guys and Dolls

Guys and Dolls is a 1955 movie based on the stage musical of the same name, and starring Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra, Vivan Blaine, Stubby Kaye, and Robert Keith.

So, if you've been to high school in the US, you know the story: Nathan Detroit (Sinatra) is trying find a venue for his floating craps game, but the local police, in the personage of Lt. Brannigan (Keith) is cracking down on such things. Meanwhile, his long-suffering fiancee, Adelaide (Blaine) is getting impatient and he's promised to give up the game. But, he's managed to find a possible venue...but he's short on cash. So he bets another gambler, Sky Masterson (Brando) that he can't take a particular woman to Havana - and the woman he picks is Sarah Brown (Simmons), a missionary.

So Masterson does take Sarah to Havana, where she gets drunk and they fall in love. The game happens (more than once), Sky faces his feelings, Nathan reconciles with Adelaide (more than once), and it all ends in a double wedding (Sky and Sarah, Nathan and Adelaide).

That's a brief summary for a long movie, though. There are a lot of memorable songs ("Luck Be a Lady," "Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat," "Fugue for Tinhorns," and so forth). The movie changes a few things around, but it remains pretty faithful to the original script. It cuts "My Time Of Day," which is a shame, because I like that song (I played Lt. Brannigan once), but the most significant change is one I approve of.

See, in the stage show, Adelaide meets up with Sarah and they commiserate about how they love their respective men, but they wish they could change them. They then resolve to "Marry the Man Today" (and changes his ways tomorrow), and proceed to do just that - at the end of the stage show, Sky, already married to Sarah, has joined the mission, and Nathan has resolved to go straight. But in the movie, Sky talks with Adelaide and points out that if she loves Nathan, she needs to love who he is, not what she thinks she could make of him, and when they all marry, Sky is still Sky. I think that's a better message overall.

It's a 50s musical, so it's very much a product of the time (the scene in Havana is not, shall we say, the most culturally sensitive thing in the world), but it's classic and the songs are fun. It's also really, really long, much longer than I remember the stage show being, but that's probably because I was in it and I could go hang out in the green room during the boring bits.

My Grade: B+
Rewatch Value: Low

Next up: Hairspray