Guys and Dolls

Guys And Dolls is a successful 1950 musical. It had a long run on Broadway (1200 performances) and was filmed in 1955 starring Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra and Jean Simmons (debuted on November 3, 1955). The words and music were written by Frank Loesser and the book was by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows.

It is based upon "The Idyll Of Miss Sarah Brown", a short story by Damon Runyon. It also borrows characters and plot elements from other stories by him, most notably "Pick the Winner".



Although there are detail differences between the stage and movie versions, the plot is essentially based around the activities of New York petty criminals and professional gamblers. Nathan Detroit makes a living by running an (illegal) "floating crap game", despite constant encouragement to "go straight" by Miss Adelaide, a nightclub singer to whom he has been engaged for fourteen years.

Sky Masterson is also a gambler, who will lay a bet on almost anything. He is unwillingly drawn by Nathan into trying to win a bet by taking Sarah Brown, a sister at the Save a Soul Mission, to dinner in Havana, Cuba.

Most of the characters are generally portrayed as preying on society's weakness for gambling, but are not prone to regular violence.

There is a suggestion that Nathan Detroit may be Jewish, due to his frequent use of Yinglish idioms, especially in the song "Sue me".

The Musical numbers

  • "Fugue for Tinhorns" (Opening trio: "I got the horse right here, the name is Paul Revere...")
  • "Follow the Fold" (the Mission hymn)
  • "The Oldest Established" ("...Permanent Floating Crap Game in New York")
  • "I'll Know" ("...when my love comes along")
  • "A Bushel and a Peck" (not in the film) This song was a top-ten hit for Perry Como and Betty Hutton in 1950.
  • "Pet Me Poppa" (a production number for Adelaide added for the film)
  • "Adelaide's Lament" ("A person could develop a cold")
  • "Guys and Dolls" ("When you see a guy reach for stars in the sky, you can bet that he's doing it for some doll...")
  • "Adelaide" (added for the film)
  • (Havana dance number)
  • "If I Were a Bell"
  • "My Time of Day" (a bluesy chromatic ballad, not in the film) (Susan Loesser called it "an odd, frequently modulating melody. You won't walk out of the theatre humming this one... My father always loved this song, and so do I. It's a love song to my father's city and to the hours that belonged to him, when he would rise at 4:00 a.m. and write, and pace, and smoke, and doodle, and scheme, and contemplate the romance business.")
  • "I've Never Been in Love Before" (not in the film)
  • "A Woman In Love" (added for the film)
  • "Take Back Your Mink" (the classic night club production number for Adelaide)
  • "More I Cannot Wish You" (a sentimental Irish song, not in the film)
  • (Crapshooters' ballet)
  • "Luck Be a Lady"
  • "Sue Me" (Duet)
  • "Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat" (production number for the gamblers at the Mission)
  • "Marry the Man Today" (not in the film)

Broadway Production

The show opened at the 46th Street Theatre on November 24, 1950.


London Production

The show opened at the Coliseum on May 28, 1953 and ran for 555 performances.


Goldwyn movie production 1955

The movie version was directed by Joseph Mankiewicz.



Guys and Dolls has been performed all over the globe.

  • A 1992 revival, starring Josie de Guzman as Sarah Brown and Peter Gallagher as Sky Masterson, but with Nathan Lane and Faith Prince stealing the show as the perennially-engaged Nathan Detroit and Miss Adelaide, ran for nearly three years (1143 performances) and rewrote the standard for Guys and Dolls, with a crack orchestra, with Edward Strauss conducting, that outperformed the original pit band. The recording is a rival for definitive with the (re-mastered) original cast recording.

External links


  • Susan Loesser (1993): A Most Remarkable Fella: Frank Loesser and the Guys and Dolls in His Life. Donald I. Fine, New York.

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