As a stage musical, Guys and Dolls is something of a legend. As a film dirceted by Joseph L. Mankiewicz (All About Eve, The Barefoot Contessa), it’s not clear as to why.
Challenged to take the Salvation Army-style missionary (Jean Simmons – Hamlet, Elmer Gantry) with him to Havana, the gamble-on-anything Sky Masterton (Marlon Brando – The Godfather, On the Waterfront) accepts the challenge – only to fall in love with her. Back in New York, assuming to be the winner of the bet, Nathan Detroit (Frank Sinatra – Ocean’s Eleven, From Here to Eternity) organises a crap game with high stakes.
It’s a sprightly enough version but the studio-bound filming highlights the feature’s stilted restrictions which ultimately becomes repetitive and tedious as besuited hustlers scuttle furtively around the alleys of the city avoiding police detection and bursting into song.
Nominated for 4 Oscars in 1956 for cinematography, art direction, costume and original score.