Guys and Dolls (1955) starring Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra, Vivian Blaine, Robert Keith, Stubby Kaye, B.S. Pully, Johnny Silver, Sheldon Leonard, Regis Toomey directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz Movie Review

Guys and Dolls (1955)   4/54/54/54/54/5

Marlon Brando and Jean Simmons in Guys and Dolls (1955)

Sky's the Limit for Brando

With a Crap game to arrange gambler Nathan Detroit (Frank Sinatra - Young at Heart) is under pressure as he doesn't have the money to put it on. That is when he decides to set his gambling buddy Sky Masterson (Marlon Brando - The Score) up with a sucker bet and persuades him to take a bet that he can't get a woman of his choosing to go with him on a date in Cuba. Charming and confident Sky falls for it only to find himself having to woo Sergeant Sarah Brown (Jean Simmons - Footsteps in the Fog), the straight-laced sister at the Save a Soul Mission who herself is stressed as no drunks or gamblers have come to get their souls saved. But Nathan has woman trouble of his own in the shape of showgirl Adelaide (Vivian Blaine) who has been keeping on the hook for many years and wants to settle down.

This review of "Guys and Dolls" is going to be the opposite of the musical, short. You see I like old musicals, I like the show tunes, the dancing and big production numbers but at 150 minutes I find "Guys and Dolls" just too long. Now don't mistake that for being too slow or boring, "Guys and Dolls" is certainly entertaining and with its story of smooth talking hustlers it is snappy. But as I have found with some other musicals of the era some of the production numbers end up bloated by a director who gets caught up in the scene.

Frank Sinatra in Guys and Dolls (1955)

Aside from that well "Guys and Dolls" delivers everything you want from a musical with snappy, witty dialogue delivered by amusing characters with a vibrant stage background and sharp costumes. It also has one musical number after another which are as memorable as the dialogue contributing to the reason to why despite feeling bloated it is still entertaining.

Now I could go on and tell you lots of things about the songs and so on but what makes "Guys and Dolls" is two perfect casting choices. Sinatra is the perfect Nathan, not just because he can handle the songs but he has the shiftiness of a wheeler dealing con artist down perfectly. And then there is Marlon Brando who as Sky delivers the smooth confidence of a handsome gambler who is assured of himself, yes Brando doesn't handle the singing as well as Sinatra but in a quiet way copes with the songs he has to sings. And in fairness Jean Simmons is just as good as the men when it comes to Sarah Brown and works well with Brando.

What this all boils down to is that "Guys and Dolls" is a good old fashioned musical with a good cast, good songs, good dialogue and a lot else which is good. Its only problem is that at 150 minutes it ends up feeling bloated with musical numbers which feel excessive.