"Guys and Dolls" 1955 movie -- why Sinatra for Nathan Detroit?

A part I once played myself in a community theater production, BTW, so it makes me wonder: You’ve managed to sign the world’s most famous singer for your musical, and you give him the part with almost no singing?

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen the musical, and I’ve never seen the movie, but Nathan Detroit is the protagonist, right? Of course the star is going to get that part. He at least sings, “Luck Be a Lady” doesn’t he?

Not only no singing, but originally written for someone (Sam Levene) who couldn’t sing a lick. “Sue Me” has that run up ("Get a lawyer and … ") because Levene couldn’t get anywhere near the right note without it.

I think Sinatra signed with the idea of playing Sky Masterson, who gets some very good songs to sing. The producers decided Brando was a better choice – he was at the time a slightly bigger star, and had replaced Sinatra as a heartthrob so gave him the role. They also made some changes to give Sinatra more to sing: a new song and a part in “Fugue for Tinhorns.” I suspect that wasn’t much comfort to Sinatra: he would have loved to do “Luck Be a Lady.”

Nathan was also supposed to be older than Sky, and Sinatra was Older than Brando (though not as old as he should have been).

Right, Sky Masterson is the protagonist. :smack: He’s the one who marries the “If I Were Bell” girl, right? I’d like to change my answer to, “I don’t know.” I’ll just sit here in the corner and not make any more noise.

Are you saying Marlon Brando did sing. I’ve got to see this movie!

The Sky Masterson character has several songs. Marlon Brando played Sky. It’s a charitable view to say Brando sings.


He “dances” too.

Sinatra’s musical career was in a slump in the early '50s. Just yesterday I ran across a quote from Mitch Miller, referring to his coming on board as a talent scout for Columbia in 1950, noting “Sinatra we couldn’t give away even though he made good records.” Columbia dropped Sinatra in 1952. Meanwhile, he was a big hit as a non-singing actor in From Here to Eternity in 1953, for which he won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. So it’s little surprise that he got picked for a role that was more acting than singing. Around the same time he was just starting his musical comeback with his Nelson Riddle collaborations for Capitol.

I read a biography of Gene Kelly that said he really wanted to play Sky Masterson in the movie. I think he would have been better than Brando in the role.

Actually, Guys and Dolls has two stories, so both Sinatra and Brando were the male protagonists (Jeanne Simmons and Vivian Blaine were the female ones).

You might as well question why Tom Cruise as cast was Lestat… :smiley:

Oh, we all know that one. Because Lestat sucks.



Not to hijack w/ Interview with a Vampire talk too much, but when I first saw Interview I liked it. Then I read the book and ran out and saw the movie again… and hated it. And couldn’t believe how terrible Tom Cruise was at playing the LeStat I’d just read in the book.

And then I read the second book, “The Vampire Lestat” and I thought “Ohhh… Tom Cruise read ahead before he starred in this, and he nailed it.”

Regarding Guys & Dolls, they did change a few songs not normally sung by Nathan to have Frank sing them (or at least part of them) in the movie. I’m blanking on the song titles though.

Sinatra saw himself as Sky Masterson as well, but took the role of Nathan anyway when it was clear nobody was going to make the director an offer he couldn’t refuse.

He did record all of Sky’s songs on his albums andLuck Be A Ladybecame one of his standards.

Maybe somebody will remake the movie and cast Ronan Farrow as Sky.

Nathan was added t “Fugue for Tinhorns” and a new song, “Adelaide,” was added for him.

I don’t think he’s on “Fugue for Tinhorns,” he was added to “Guys & Dolls”
Brando works as Sky Masterson. I really can’t imagine Sinatra being a better fit for part (even given the whole singing issue).

You have got to see this movie. It’s everything a movie musical should be.

I agee that Brando was a better choice for Sky. He was younger and more the leading man type. His singing was better than anyone expected.

Wait until you see Rod Steiger in Oklahoma!

Yeah, his career was kinda in the toilet until Waltz woke up to find a horse’s head in his bed…

Clint Eastwood in Paint Your Wagon is my favorite.

(They call the wind “do you feel lucky, punk.”)