Guys and Dolls (1955)
What were once lavish studio sets and well-choreographed sing-and-dance numbers now come off as respectively contrived and stilted in this romantic musical. Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra gained more attention for their off-screen feud – which stemmed from Sinatra's jealousy of Brando's status and lead role combined with Brando's unwillingness to let anyone win a battle of testosterone or pride with him – than for their interplay on-screen, which is more or less non-existent. The two stars are not the real problem here, however; Sinatra is reliable as always and Brando both sings surprisingly well and has quite a bit of chemistry with his co-star Jean Simmons. The problem is rather the film's slight script and dated conflict between good (here meaning righteous and piety) and bad (here meaning debauched). This dicothomy may have served a purpose back in 1955, but today it feels sophomoric and reduces the drama to Sunday school level, effectively dampening any sort of sexual tension Brando and Simmon's may have cooked up. The film's best assets are a few quipsy exchanges and a couple of enjoyable musical numbers, but it's not enough to keep Guys and Dolls relevant sixty years on.