The Guys And Dolls Who Do And Do Not Pass Muster: “Guys and Dolls”

Guys and Dolls (film)

Guys and Dolls (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Brando sings!  Yes, and he spoils the song “Luck Be a Lady” in the 1955 movie adaptation of Guys and Dolls.  He is miscast as a crooning illicit gambler, whereas Frank Sinatra clearly is not.  It’s a pleasurable role he is in, with Vivian Blaine, as his inamorata, holding her own.  Musically, that is, Betty Boop voice and all.

Songsmith Frank Loesser did himself proud, although I truly do not know whether “If I Were a Bell” is a good ditty or not.  This is because Jean Simmons—an embarrassment—loses the melody by shouting rather than singing the song.  It’s a disastrous performance, and the entire sequence with her and Brando in Havana is unamusingly poor.  Over and above, the musical’s book (adapted by Joseph Mankiewicz) lacks any real charm, any cakes-and-ale sparkle and bounce.  Music, singing and dancing manage to entertain, though.

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