Blue Eyes and Brando
GUYS AND DOLLS Directed by Joseph L Mankiewicz. Starring Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra, Vivian Blaine. Club, selected cinemas, 150mins Inveterate gambler Nathan Detroit (Sinatra) would like to go straight and marry his showgirl fiancée, Miss Adelaide (Blaine), some 14 years into their engagement. Trouble is, Nathan’s only real talent is for organising illegal crap games, much to the chagrin of his intended and various New York authorities.
In the hope of kick-starting a garage business Nathan makes a bet with his old pal and compulsive gambler, Sky Masterson (Brando) – $1,000 says the latter can’t whisk a girl of Nathan’s choosing off to Havana for a dinner date. Trouble is, Nathan names upstanding Sgt Sarah Brown (Simmons) of the local Salvation Army rescue mission.
Guys and Dolls was not a career best for most of its illustrious personnel. It’s not up there with Joseph L Mankiewicz’s best pictures. One would almost hesitate to mention it in a roll-call that includes All About Eve, Suddenly, Last Summer or Dragonwyck. Set-bound, overly talky and 150 minutes long, Guys and Dolls rarely breezes along, despite Michael Kidd’s tremendous choreography and the odd historic toe-tapper ( Luck Be a Lady, Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat).