Guys and Dolls



Classic Sinatra/Brando musical is a whole lot of fun.
  • Review Date: January 10, 2005
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Musical
  • Release Year: 1955
  • Running Time: 150 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive role models

Portrayal of Adelaide as hopelessly waiting to marry Nathan would earn her a spot on the Sally Jesse Raphael show today.

Not applicable

Very oblique reference to the face of the hotel clerk when an unmarried couple checks in; "Take Back Your Mink" song about a girl who accepts a lot of gifts from a man but is not "one of those girls."

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Sky gets Sarah drunk in Havana by arranging for her drink to be spiked with liquor.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that overall this is a family-friendly classic movie musical, but characters do lie and gamble. Also, Nathan gets missionary Adelaide drunk by telling her that her frothy rum drink is "sweet milk."

What's the story?

The musical GUYS AND DOLLS takes place among the small-time underworld characters of New York. Nathan Detroit (Frank Sinatra) runs a \"floating crap game.\" But he doesn't have enough money to book the next location. And, his (very) long- term fianceƩ, showgirl Adelaide (Vivian Blaine), is so distressed over his failure to marry her that she has developed a psychosomatic cold. Trying to get the money he needs, Nathan makes a bet with Sky Masterson (Marlon Brando). After Sky brags that he can get any \"doll\" to go out with him, Nathan challenges him to ask Sarah Brown (Jean Simmons), the local mission worker. Sky persuades Sarah to go to Havana for dinner, and, after he spikes her drink with liquor, they have a wonderful time and she starts to fall for him. When they get back, however, she finds that the crap game was held in the mission, and feels betrayed. In order to persuade her that his intentions are honorable, Sky rolls the dice in the crap game against the \"souls\" of the other players, and when he wins, they must all go to a meeting at the mission, the two couples get married, and everyone lives happily ever after.

Is it any good?


This musical classic, based on the stories of Damon Runyon, is a lot of fun, despite the fact that two of the leads are not singers and none of them can dance. But Brando and Simmons do surprisingly well, especially in the scenes set in Havana, and the movie is brash and splashy enough to be thoroughly entertaining.

Themes worth discussing include honesty in relationships and in competition (Harry the Horse cheats and threatens the other players) and how people decide whether to align themselves with (or between) the two extremes presented by the mission workers and the grifters and gamblers.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how Adelaide says she has developed a cold from waiting for Nathan to marry her. How do people get physically sick from unhappiness or worry? What is the meaning of Sky's father's advice about the deck of cards? Is that good advice? Who changes the most in this movie? How can you tell?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 3, 1955
DVD release date:April 18, 2000
Cast:Frank Sinatra, Jean Simmons, Marlon Brando
Director:Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Run time:150 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written bysarahkay89 November 17, 2010

Great classic. Tweens and up will enjoy.

I have always loved old movies...especially musicals. This is an excellent production. The messages for kids are a little iffy...alcohol use (one character gets very drunk) and gambling is a big theme throughout the movie (crap-shoot). Technically the main characters are gang members and keep dodging the police. And one of the woman co-stars is a night club dancer/singer who does a couple somewhat questionable dance numbers. However, the end is happy with the them all reforming their ways and getting married. : )
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 10 years old July 9, 2012

Good, Classic Movie

I happen to be performing this play, and it's very good, but you have to know your kid.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written byDoctor Who Lover March 14, 2012

Great Musical

Great movie, not as good as the play, I'm in the play. Pet me papa is an inapropriate song, along with Take Back Your Mink. Nathon and Adelade are not married, but have been engaged for 14 years. Sky gets Sarah drunk in Havana, Cuba. Fist fight in the bar, pretty fake though.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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