“I am not putting the knock on dolls. It’s just that they are something to have around only when they come in handy — like cough drops.”
While trying to schedule an illegal craps game under the watchful eye of Lieutenant Brannigan (Robert Keith), Nathan Detroit (Frank Sinatra) — eager to secure enough money to marry his longtime showgirl girlfriend (Vivian Blaine) — bets a womanizing gambler (Marlon Brando) that he won’t be able to convince a beautiful but prim missionary (Jean Simmons) to go on a date to Havana.
Joseph L. Mankiewicz directed this colorful screen adaptation of Frank Loesser’s Broadway musical, adapted (by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows) from two Damon Runyon stories. Brando struggled to master his songs, and it shows, but Blaine (who starred in the original musical) is a treasure, and Sinatra — naturally — does just fine. Speaking of music, the tunes here (including “Fugue for Tinhorns”, “Adelaide’s Lament”, “Sue Me”, and “Luck Be a Lady”) are a toe-tapping bunch, neatly choreographed (by Michael Kidd) and fun to watch. I’m not a huge fan of the storyline itself, given my overall distaste for depictions of love-under-deception, but the tale takes some fine turns at crucial points, and it’s easy enough to simply get caught up in the stage-bound yet escapist air of this city-life fairytale.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Vivian Blaine as Adelaide
- Many toe-tapping musical numbers
- Colorful and creative sets
- Michael Kidd’s cinematography
Yes, for the fun songs and overall infectious air.
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)