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Guys and Dolls

If you're gonna cast a big-budget Hollywood musical, getting blue-eyed crooner Frank Sinatra and Broadway star Vivian Blaine in lead roles can't hurt. However, in the case of 1955's Guys and Dolls, producer Samuel Goldwyn and director Joseph L. Mankiewicz also cast Marlon Brando and Jean Simmons to round out the romantic quartet — two actors who had built their reputations with notable dramatic performances and had never danced or sung a note on screen beforehand. If it was a gamble, it paid off in spades. Sinatra stars as Nathan Detroit, a big-time New York craps-game operator who has the cops on his tail and can't arrange a new location for his gambling enterprise until he fronts $1,000 to a garage owner. Enter Sky Masterson (Brando), a high-roller with a taste for unusual wagers. Blithely telling Detroit that he might take a yet-to-be-determined doll on a brief trip to Havana, the operator bets Masterson a cool grand that he could name a woman that wouldn't go, and when the bet is accepted, religious missionary Sarah Brown (Simmons) — who tirelessly tries to get gamblers off the streets and into church — is chosen as the object of the bet. Meanwhile, while trying to keep his business afloat, Detroit struggles over his relationship with sexy showgirl Adelaide (Blaine), to whom he has been engaged for 14 years. Sinatra and Blaine are money in the bank here, but both Brando and Simmons are a delicious surprise, holding their own in several sequences, in particular a sizzling dance-number in a Cuban cantina that results in a wild brawl. The inventive score by Frank Loesser is loaded with show-stoppers, including the clever "Fugue for Tinhorns," Stubby Kaye's rousing "Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat," Brando's smoky-cool "Luck Be a Lady," and the funny, faux-patriotic "The Oldest Established Permanent Floating Crap Game in New York." Solid, colorful widescreen transfer (2.35:1) from a pristine source print, excellently remixed in DD 5.1. Trailer, scene menu that includes direct access to musical numbers. Keep-case.
—JJB



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