Time: 150 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
Academy Award nominations for Best Score, Art Direction, Cinematography and Costume Design.
BOTTOM LINE: Sinatra and Brando turn on the charm in this musical about love, honor and gambling on the streets of Manhattan. Sinatra plays Nathan Detroit, a two-bit hustler who arranges illegal, big money crap games and is eternally engaged to a nightclub performer (Blaine). Brando is Sky Masterson, an unusually lucky gambler who gets suckered into a bet with Nathan he can't possibly win. He must lure Sarah (Simmons), a cold-hearted missionary, to Havana, Cuba for dinner or pay Nathan the money he desperately needs to stake his next game. Sky only has 24 hours to succeed or sacrifice the cash. What he doesn't count on is losing his heart as well.
The plot bounces back and forth between the two couples and their love and career woes. The usual romantic angles get a boost from the saint/sinner debate. However, the stories don't really mesh and the mood is uneven, but the acting, especially by Simmons, dialogue and singing keep things entertaining. Brando does more singing than Sinatra, which is a real shame since Marlon isn't exactly known for his pipes. He good looks and charm almost make up for it. One certainly can't blame the usually virtuous Sister Sarah for falling for him. Simmons pulls off this difficult role with grace, intelligence and charm despite playing an uptight virgin.
The musical numbers and art direction are the best parts of the film: energetic, vibrant and romantic, especially the dance/brawl in Cuba. All in all, this is a well-produced musical with some great moments, just not enough to make it overly memorable.