Guys and Dolls [DVD]  starring: Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra, Vivian Blaine, Robert Keith
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Release date: 6th August, 2001
Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish
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This CinemaScope treatment of Frank Loesser's hit Broadway musical Guys and Dolls is a deeply rewarding visual and musical experience. Frank Sinatra turns in one of his best screen performances running a close second to Marlon Brando and Jean Simmons, looking adorable and singing sweetly. In essence this is a piece of photographed theatre mounted on a handsome scale. The striking set designs and a brilliantly executed soundtrack are courtesy of two Broadway craftsmen Oliver Smith and conductor Jay Blackton. Photographer Harry Stradling brings a meticulous eye for detail when his camera stationed on the auditorium side of the frame, peers into Miss Adelaide's bathroom cupboard as she views the lines of medicine bottles in her celebrated "lament". Sinatra, in his vocal prime, sings a new number to Adelaide (Vivian Blaine)--arranged by Nelson Riddle--and Brando and Simmons strike chords in all their scenes from their opening duet "I'll Know" through to their evening out at a Havana bistro where she gets pie-eyed on a Bacardi milk-shake, tipsily wondering "If I were a Bell". Stubby Kaye also from the Broadway cast recreates the show-stopping "Sit Down You're Rockin' the Boat". Michael Kidd's choreography for "Luck Be a Lady" is razor-sharp and superbly captured in the CinemaScope format, though the formalised staging of the opening ought to have been rethought for this medium. The biggest pity is that Loesser amended some of his lyrics and replaced several tunes from his original score with inferior material.
On the DVD: The DVD trailer hosted by Ed Sullivan makes much of the $1,000,000 cheque producer Samuel Goldwyn paid for the rights and the previews of the picture he obtained for his weekly television show. There's no denying that the remastered stereophonic soundtrack captures the Broadway sound to thrilling effect without it being overglamorised. The picture looks splendid too--never settle for the compromise version we've endured all these years on television! --Adrian Edwards