Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Guys and Dolls (1955)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Guys and Dolls (1955)

In Samuel Goldwyn's production (directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz), the crime-related musical was developed from a 1933 short story titled "The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown" by writer Damon Runyon about a NY sharpster and a missionary girl, and was released by MGM in the mid-50s. It was the big screen version of the story adapted from the long-running 1950 Broadway musical play, and featured marvelous Michael Kidd-choreography. Gene Kelly was supposed to play the main male role, but MGM refused to loan him to Goldwyn Studios. It was the 5th highest-grossing film of 1955 at $6.8 million.

  • the opening scene was set in bustling NYC's Times Square (in the Depression Era) with tourists, street vendors, bobby-sox wearing teenaged girls and other street hustlers, drunks, and gamblers; a threesome of small-time betters Nicely-Nicely Johnson (Stubby Kaye), Benny Southstreet (Johnny Silver) and Rusty Charlie (Danny Dayton) with scratch-sheets sang the opening number "Fugue for Tinhorns," as they shared tips on betting for three front-running horses just before race time: ("I got a horse right here / His name is Paul Revere...")
  • at the same time on another street, Salvation Army-like missionary Sgt./Sister Sarah Brown (Jean Simmons) was singing "Follow the Fold" with her "Save A Soul" mission band - she was delivering an anti-gambling sermon to bystanders in an apathetic crowd who ignored her invitation to attend her Thursday night prayer meeting to repent: ("Follow the fold And stray no more... Put down the bottle And we'll say no more"); the sanctimonious lady then preached about the unhappiness of the lives of most people involved with rampant drinking and gambling: ("You who drink too much, you who gamble at cards and dice and horse gambling dens and bookie joints")
  • in the next scene, Harry the Horse (Sheldon Leonard) was looking for the location of Nathan Detroit's most recent Big Crap Game; he briefly met up with Nicely-Nicely and Benny, and claimed he had a $5,000 reward (for turning in his own father) and was interested in gambling it away in Detroit's crap game: (Nicely-Nicely: "There's a lot of loose money around now and everybody's looking for some action")
  • in the main story, Broadway denizen and financially-challenged gambler Nathan Detroit (Frank Sinatra) was known for organizing and running "The Oldest Established Permanent Floating Crap Game" in New York; Nathan was struggling to find a new venue or location to run his unlicensed, long-running, famous, high-stakes, illegal gambling crap game that moved from location to location to avoid prosecution; he was facing pressure and intense "heat" from NYPD Lieutenant Brannigan (Robert Keith); Nathan boasted about his career's expertise to his cohorts or partners Benny and Nicely-Nicely: "I have been running the crap game since I was a juvenile delinquent"; in a barber shop, Nathan sang with his cohorts: "The Oldest Established (Permanent Floating Crap Game)"

Nathan Detroit (Frank Sinatra): "I have been running the crap game since I was a juvenile delinquent"

Nathan With His Cohorts, Singing: "The Oldest Established (Permanent Floating Crap Game)" in New York
  • Nathan explained how he had been offered an opportunity to stage his crap game at the Biltmore Garage by its owner Joey Biltmore for a $1,000 cash advance and security deposit, but didn't have the money; at the same time, Nathan's frustrated and wacky girlfriend-fiancee (to whom he had been engaged for 14 years) - star performer and singer at the Hot Box Club Miss Adelaide (Vivian Blaine), was pressuring him to finally get married and elope, and to quit his gambling enterprise and become a normal businessman; because Nathan was broke, he couldn't even purchase an anniversary gift for Miss Adelaide
  • Nathan was hopeful when he heard that an old acquaintance - slick, high-rolling, free-wheeling, big-city gambler Sky Masterson (a slightly miscast Marlon Brando in his musical debut - who sang with his own voice), was having a steak breakfast nearby at Mindy's Restaurant, who often made "crazy bets" and could be tricked into betting on almost anything
  • at the restaurant, Nathan first wagered $1,000 (the amount of the deposit he needed) with Sky over whether more cheesecake or strudel had been sold by Mindy's the day before, but Sky became suspicious and declined to take the bet; then, after Sky claimed that all women were alike: ("Figuring weight for age, all dolls are the far as the eye can see"), and boastfully claimed he could convince any female to join him for a dinner date in Havana the next day: ("If I wish to take a doll to Havana, the supply is more than Woolworth's has got beads....There's only one class - indivisible and interchangeable. A doll is a doll. All dolls, any doll, you name her"), Nathan thought of another betting opportunity
  • the Save-A-Soul Mission Band happened to be marching by the front of the restaurant, prompting Nathan to tempt Sky with a $1,000 dollar bet - that he couldn't successfully romance/seduce Nathan's choice of any "doll" as his date in Havana; after Sky accepted the bet, Nathan pointed out through the window an unlikely doll as Sky's date - the prudish, virginal, ultra-religious and straight Sister Sarah Brown from the Mission
  • realizing that he had made a risky "sucker bet" and had become a humiliated "chump," Sky went to the mission to acquire the date, where he told Sarah and her uncle Arvide Abernathy (Regis Toomey) that he was a repentant but successful gambler and unhappy sinner who desperately needed salvation: ("Do you take sinners here?"); Sarah became very skeptical of his truthfulness and trustworthiness, in addition to his dubious claims about Bible knowledge: ("I imagine there's only one thing that's been in as many different hotel rooms as I have: the Gideon Bible. Never tangle with me on the Good Book. I must've read it through at least a dozen times")
  • Sky accused her of failing in her spiritual mission: "You are stuck with a store full of repentance and no customers. And without sinners to repent, what is repentance? It doesn't exist. So you're stuck with a store full of nothing"
  • Sky proposed a trade (a "business transaction") to help her out - he would give Sarah his marker (a written IOU pledge or guarantee) that he could recruit a dozen genuine sinners into her Broadway-branch Mission two days later for her Thursday-midnight prayer meeting: ("I am in a position to supply you with the raw material you need for your work, namely sinners"); in exchange, she would agree to have dinner with him the next night (Wednesday) in his favorite restaurant (El Café Cabana which happened to be in Havana)
  • angered by his invitation, Sarah threatened to tear up his marker; he accused her of being the one with improper "sinful thoughts" and of hating all men, and then asked her to describe the man of her dreams; Sister Sarah claimed that she was only attracted to "upright, downright, forthright square(s)" (as he described them); they both shared in the singing of "I'll Know" (about the right partner coming along)
  • afterwards, he grabbed and kissed her; after a short delay, she slapped him hard across the face; he responded: "Well, that makes it necessary for me to drop back again. Matthew 5:39. Oh, don't bother looking it up, it's the bit about the other cheek"; Sarah declined Sky's persistent offer that he would pick her up at noon the next day
  • a confident Nathan phoned Joey Biltmore to assure him that a bet of $1,000 with Sky Masterson was guaranteed to help pay the deposit, but it would be a few days until he could acquire the money; meanwhile at the Hot Box nightclub, Miss Adelaide was performing ("A Bushel and a Peck") with a group of chorus girls known as the Alley Kittens; in her dressing room afterwards, she was still pressuring fiancee Nathan to get married by announcing that her upcoming club's raise would allow them to be financially stable; she also told him how her mother in Rhode Island wrongly believed that they had been married for many years, and had 5 children
  • when Laverne (Veda Ann Borg), one of Miss Adelaide's dancer-friends referred to Nathan's newest crap game, Adelaide suspected that Nathan had been lying to her and had broken his promises; she decided to break up with Nathan ("Get out of my life, Nathan Detroit!"); she began to believe that she had developed a chronic, psychosomatic cold due to their frustrating up-and-down relationship ("from waiting around for that plain little band of gold") - in her dressing room, she sang: "Adelaide's Lament"
  • on the street, Sky was given a cold "brush-off" by Sister Sarah with her mission's band; Nicely-Nicely and Benny who had been observing, tried to give the encouraging news to the recently-rejected Nathan, that he would probably win his bet against Sky so that the crap game could go on ("the thousand for Joey Biltmore is practically in your pocket")
  • the title song - "Guys and Dolls" - was sung by Nathan with his two cohorts while walking down the street, about how "guys" all over the world often fell in love with "dolls": ("The guy's only doin' it For some doll"); Nathan confessed that he was the most recent, weakened victim by a female: "Love is the thing that has licked them And it looks like I'm just another victim"
  • when Sky arrived to pick up Sister Sarah the next day, he met General Matilda Cartwright (Kathryn Givney), her stern regional director from Boston, who was threatening to shut down her mostly-unattended branch that wasn't attracting enough sinners; after Sky protested the closing of the mission for at least 36 hours, Sarah reversed herself and changed her mind, and she gladly accepted Sky's offer for a date, and promised to guarantee that there would be at least 12 genuine sinners in her mission the following evening; the General said she would postpone her decision if there was "a chance of finding definite progress and a sizable turnout"
  • meanwhile, gamblers were assembling in town in anticipation of Nathan's big crap game, but Nathan was still uncertain whether he had won or lost his bet with Sky, and had not yet secured a location; he feared that he would be destined to marry Adelaide, change his ways and go straight; he reluctantly agreed to elopement-marriage ("OK, deal me in") and sang "Adelaide": ("Ever-Iovin' Adelaide Is takin' a chance on me Takin' a chance I'll be respectable and nice Give up cards and dice And go for shoes and rice")
  • after flying from New York to Havana, Cuba for their date, at Racardo's outdoor cafe, Sky ordered several milk drinks for her (potently spiked with Bacardi rum - ordered by Sky as "Dulce de Leche") to loosen up the prim, prudish, and proper Sarah: (she joked: "That Bacardi flavor, it certainly makes a difference, doesn't it?...This would be a wonderful way to get children to drink milk")

Ordering "Bacardi" Milk Drinks

Sarah On a Personal Salvation Mission to Be With Sky

Surrendering To a Kiss With Sky
  • after several drinks, an aroused Sister Sarah came closer and closer to his lips before an intimate kiss -- telling the "full time sinner" that she wanted to be with him as a "full-time job"; he asked: "A one-woman mission for the personal salvation of me?" - she promised him that he wouldn't be fighting sin alone anymore because she was on a mission to faithfully be with him: "I'm gonna be with you...Day and night, night and day....Whatever you do, wherever you go...I wanna be with you...anytime, anywhere..."
  • in the noisy restaurant over dinner, as mambo music played and couples danced, Sky was seductively tempted by a red-dressed Cuban dancer to join with her on the mambo dance floor; the jealous Sarah instigated a vicious fist-fighting and destructive chair-throwing brawl with her and other locals until it was broken up by the police
Sarah with Sky: "If I Were a Bell"
  • after the brawl ended, Sarah sobered up next to a pool of water near a church bell that was ringing in a courtyard; she openly revealed her feelings of happiness and love for him as she sang: "If I Were a Bell": ("Ask me how to describe This whole beautiful thing Well, if I were a bell I'd go ding-dong-ding-dong..."); she fell into his arms for embraces and a kiss as the song ended; feeling guilty for having enticed her to accept a date motivated by a crude wager, Sky admitted his deception (and partially revealed he was also in love with her); she thought he was "mixed-up," and responded that she wouldn't have met him otherwise: "Why not? You're a gambler. And darling, you are also a chump"
  • once they returned to New York by plane at dawn, they took a taxi to Times Square and walked to the front of the Save-A-Soul Mission, where Sky and Sarah sang a duet together "A Woman in Love" about their newfound, reciprocal love: ("Your eyes are the eyes Of a woman in love And, oh, how they give you away...Your eyes are the eyes Of a man who's in love"); they were unaware that Nathan was using the empty Save-A-Soul mission for another one of his crap games
  • sirens blared as Lt. Brannigan was about to raid the mission that was filled with dozens of gamblers, who were warned by Nicely-Nicely just in time to evade the police; Sarah was accused by Brannigan of arranging for the gamblers to be there in her absence; she inaccurately but suspiciously blamed Sky for using her and arranging the crap game, and although he was innocent and denied the accusations, the love between them rapidly cooled and they broke up
  • Arvide tried to convince Sarah that Sky had nothing to do with setting up the "filthy crap game" in the Mission during her absence with him in Havana; Arvide knew that Sarah's heart was with Sky and urged her to let herself fall in love with him: ("And I never saw until now how much in love with him you are...Why would anyone wanna get over the one thing you hope for from the minute you're born and remember until the day you die?...Why? Because it's the greatest reward that woman or man can have on this earth? To love and to be loved?"); however, Sarah was resistant to him because she was worried that his gambling connections would lead to future police arrests
  • when Sky arrived and again promised to deliver "sinners" to her mission, to win his bet with Nathan, Arvide warned Sky that he must fulfill his part of the bet: "If you don't make that marker good, I'm gonna buzz it all over town you're a welcher"
  • in the meantime, Nathan had cancelled his elopement plans with Adelaide, due to her continued resistance to his gambling; he was out promoting a 24-hour crap game located in an underground city sewer against armed Chicago hoodlum Big Jule (B.S. Pully); Nathan was cleaned out of all of his money against the dice-cheating tactics of Big Jule; Sky entered, knocked down Big Jule with two punches and disarmed him, and then deceitfully told Nathan that he had lost their Havana bet; he paid off the $1,000 dollar stake to Nathan
  • Sky decided to make a very bold, daring, risky, and all-or-nothing roll of the dice bet against Big Jule and the other gamblers; he proposed that a loss would mean that he would pay $1,000 dollars to each of the gamblers, but a win would immediately require all of them to attend Sarah's Thursday-night midnight prayer meeting: ("One roll. And on that roll I'm gonna bet each of you $1000 against your soul. One thousand cash against a marker for your soul. If I win, all of you show up at the mission tonight")
  • before the dice-roll (off-screen), he murmured to himself: "I got a lot more than money ridin' on this one," and then sang the most well-known song-dance number of the film: "Luck Be a Lady," to ask for help: ("Luck, be a lady tonight Luck, if you've ever been A lady to begin with Luck, be a lady tonight")
  • before arriving at the Mission, Nathan spoke to Adelaide - and told her that they couldn't elope before 12 midnight because he was obligated to go to a prayer meeting; she complained about all his lies as he vowed his love for her, as they sang "Sue Me" together: ("Call a lawyer and sue me, sue me What can you do me? I love you Give a holler and hate me, hate me Go ahead, hate me, I love you")

Earlier, In His Song "Adelaide," Nathan Agreed to Marriage (Elopement) with Adelaide

Nathan with Adelaide: "Sue Me"
  • at the Mission, Sarah - who felt she had failed, was totally shocked when the large group of "sinners" arrived with Sky just after midnight - obviously, he had won the dice-roll, and General Cartwright was very pleased; during the service, it was shocking and moving when Nicely-Nicely was truly converted and authentically redeemed from being a sinner, after recalling a dream about being on a boat to heaven: ("Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat")

The Sinners-Gamblers at the Prayer Meeting

Nicely-Nicely: ("Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat")

Lt. Brannigan: "Aren't these the men?"
  • after Nicely-Nicely's conversion, Lt. Brannigan (who had burst into the meeting) reported to General Cartwright that there had been a late night crap game there that the 'sinners' had participated in: ("Aren't these the men?"), but Sarah denied the fact: ("You must be mistaken, Lieutenant. I never saw these gentlemen before in my life")
  • after the Lieutenant departed, Nathan confessed that the crap game held at the Mission could not be blamed on anyone associated with the Mission; he also privately told Sarah that Sky had lost the Cuba bet: ("The guy told me he did not take the doll away"); she was puzzled because she obviously knew that Sky won the bet; now realizing and knowing that he loved her, she ran off to find him
  • the film concluded with preparations for a double-marriage in Times Square the next day between Nathan and Miss Adelaide, and Sky with Sarah; participants included gangsters, and Adelaide's troupe of dancers; Nicely-Nicely had joined the Save a Soul Mission and was romantically involved with Sarah's regional supervisor Gen. Cartwright; Arvide presided over the ceremony and provided the film's last line of dialogue ("I hereby pronounce you men and wives") after which cheers erupted

Horse-Betters: "Fugue for Tinhorns"

Sgt and Save-A-Soul Mission Sister Sarah Brown (Jean Simmons): "Follow the Fold"

(l to r): Nicely-Nicely, Harry the Horse, Benny - Looking For Nathan Detroit's 'Crap Game'

NYPD Lieut. Brannigan (Robert Keith) Turning Up "The Heat"

Nathan With Fiancee of 14 Years Miss Adelaide (Vivian Blaine) - Nightclub Performer

Sky Masterson (Marlon Brando) in Mindy's Restaurant

Sky's Bet with Nathan - A Havana Dinner Date with Sister Sarah Brown

Sister Sarah and Her Uncle Arvide at the Save-A-Soul Mission with Sky

"I'll Know" - Followed by Sky's Unwanted Kiss and Sarah's Slap

Miss Adelaide Performing On Stage in the Hot Box Club: "A Bushel and a Peck"

Backstage in Adelaide's Dressing Room - She Pressured Nathan about Marriage and His Gambling Habits

"Adelaide's Lament"

"Guys and Dolls"

Sky Convincing General Cartwright To Keep Sarah's Empty Mission Branch Open for 36 More Hours

Sky's Flirtations with Sexy Dancer in Havana Before a Brawl Broke Out

Sky and Sarah: "A Woman in Love"

Arvide Threatening Sky to Make Good On His Marker with Sarah

Nathan Detroit's Dice-Game with Chicago Gangster Big Jule (B.S. Pully)

Sky Singing "Luck Be a Lady" Before His Risky Dice-Roll Bet

Double-Wedding in Times Square


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