Jun 15, 2014

Guys and Dolls:Musical with Mostly Guys

Instead of watching the execrable Chicago (2002), watch Guys and Dolls (1953), set during the same time period, but with gamblers instead of murderers, and a gay subtext.

It's about the friendship between gambler Nathan Detroit (Frank Sinatra) and Sky Masterson (bisexual actor Marlon Brando), triangulated by two very hesitant hetero-romances.

Nathan has been engaged to Miss Adelaide (Vivian Blaine) for 14 years, but has no interest in marriage, "old ball and chain." Sky is not interested in women at all.

So when Nathan needs $1000 to secure a garage for his illegal crap game (betting on dice), he makes a bet with Sky: Sky must seduce a girl that Nathan selects so thoroughly that she agrees to go to dinner with him in Havana, Cuba.  No way will Sky be willing, or able to do that!

Especially when the girl turns out to be the prim-and-proper Sergeant Sarah Brown (Jean Simmons) of the Save-a-Soul Mission (a take on the Salvation Army).

Sky knows his way around a bet; he tells Sarah that he will fill her mission with sinners in exchange for the dinner.   She agrees, and naturally they fall in love -- you can't have everything.

Nathan, meanwhile, goes through some machinations to hold his crap game, and ends up agreeing to marry Miss Adelaide -- you can't have everything.

There is also a group of gamblers led by the corpulent Nicely-Nicely (Stubby Kaye), who display no heterosexual interest.

No beefcake, but the period costumes are great.  So are the songs.

The stage version is even less hetero-romance-bound.  Nathan Detroits have been played by Robert Guillaume, Bob Hoskins, Nathan Lane, and Oliver Platt, and Sky Masterson by Robert Alda, Peter Gallagher, Ewan McGregor, and Craig Bierko.

It's also a favorite of high school and college drama clubs.