"A guy without a doll? Well, if a guy does not have a doll, who would holler on him? A doll is a necessity!"Guys and Dolls is a 1950 musical comedy with lyrics by by Frank Loesser and a book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows. It was based heavily on two short stories by Damon Runyon, "The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown" and "Blood Pressure", with smaller elements from his other stories. The original Broadway production was nominated for five Tony awards, winning all of them, including Best Musical and Best Actor in a Musical (Robert Alda as Sky Masterson).The plot centers on Sky Masterson, a chronic high-rolling gambler, and Sarah Brown, a mission worker in New York City. When fellow gambler Nathan Detroit finds himself in need of $1,000, Nathan bets Sky he cannot get Sarah to go to Havana with him. Hilarity Ensues. Other players include Adelaide, Nathan's long-suffering long-time fiancee, Sarah's uncle Arvide, and an ensemble of gamblers hanging around Nathan including Nicely-Nicely Johnson, Benny Southstreet, and Harry the Horse.Its most famous song is "Luck Be a Lady", with "Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat" in a close second.Adapted into a movie by Joseph L. Mankiewicz in 1955, with Marlon Brando as Sky, Jean Simmons as Sister Sarah, and Frank Sinatra as Nathan.
— Nathan Detroit
Includes examples of:
- Absurdly High-Stakes Game: Not only does "Sky" Masterson get his name from this, there's also his high-stakes roll at the craps game - $1,000 for every man, against their souls (and attendance at the Save-a-Soul mission).
- Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Enough for a big ol' dance number during the final craps game - it's absurdly spacious even by the standards of absurdly spacious sewers...
- Affably Evil: Harry the Horse is a generally affable and pleasant fellow in spite of being a crook and a gambler, but when with Big Jule, he can get a little sinister, especially when he backs up Big Jule's cheating. This is pretty much true of all the gamblers except for Big Jules, but Harry the Horse is more notable.
- All Musicals Are Adaptations: In this case an adaptation of short stories by Damon Runyon, most importantly, "The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown" and "Blood Pressure", although characters are pulled from several others, as well.
- Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: A drunk Sarah keeps coming on to Sky, but he decides to take her back to New York because he doesn't want to "win with loaded dice".
- The Bet: Sky bets Nathan that he can take "any doll you pick" to Havana for the weekend. Nathan picks Sarah, a missionary from the Save-A-Soul Mission (an expy of the Salvation Army).
- Big Bad: Downplayed. While Harry the Horse isn't the one causing the whole conflict of the film, he was the one who invited Big Jule to the crap game, who is notorious for cheating in crap games. Therefore he had a hand in delaying Nathan in eloping with Adelaide, and cleaning him out of his money through Big Jule's cheating.
- Beta Couple: In terms of general role, Nathan and Adelaide; but both in stage time and importance to the story, they're pretty much equal. The emotional climax ("Marry the Man Today") is, after all, about both couples, and the end of the show only comes when Nathan and Adelaide are actually married.
- Commitment Issues: Nathan has been engaged to Adelaide for over a decade.
- Deadly Road Trip: Not so much deadly as pickpocketing unwary tourists.
- Deconfirmed Bachelor: Sky Masterson.Sky: "I suppose one of these days you'll be getting married."Nathan: "We all gotta go sometime."Sky: " But, Nathan, we can fight it. The companionship of a doll is pleasant even for a period running into months. But for a close relationship that can last through our life, no doll can take the place of aces back to back."
- Nathan himself, who despite being engaged to Adelaide has managed to put off the wedding for fourteen years. Despite this, he seems to take it for granted that they'll get married eventually, and Benny Southstreet comments that it's a shame he "had to go and fall in love with his own fiancée."
- Despair Event Horizon: Nathan crosses it in the sewer, as to run this craps game, he's been forced to promise to elope, and ends up broke in a sewer for his troubles.
- Dialogue Reversal: "Chemistry?" "Yeah, chemistry."
- Dirty Cop: Brannigan is implied to have been in Nathan's pocket prior to the events of the show - we can assume from Nathan's line in "The Oldest Established" that Brannigan allowed Detroit to use the back of the police station to run the game. What exactly changed this is a mystery.
- Embarrassing First Name: If my first name was Obadiah? I'd call myself "Sky" too.
- Family-Friendly Stripper: The performers in the Hot Box. Word of God says it's pretty much a toned-down strip club.
- Fixing the Game: Big Jule's dice have had the spots removed. But he remembers where they were and is happy to tell you what he rolled.
- Hypochondria: Nathan Detroit's fiancee Adelaide is a hypochondriac, as shown in the song "Adelaide's Lament."
- I Can Change My Beloved: "Marry the Man Today" ("and change his ways tomorrow!") is all about this, and indeed it seems to work out well enough for Sarah.
- I Need to Go Iron My Dog: Nathan actually did have to go to a prayer meeting, but Adelaide still doesn't believe him.
- Kiss-Kiss-Slap: After some verbal sparring, Sarah Brown looks like she'll be won over by Sky randomly making out with her, but then she hits him. Hard. She's okay with kissing him later, though.
- Ladykiller in Love: Possibly Sky with Sarah; we don't see him with any other women over the course of the play, but he implies that he could take any doll to Havana if he wished, and he's supremely confident that he can win Sarah over.
- Milholland Relationship Moment: When Sky confesses about The Bet.
- Mobile Kiosk: The opening scene has a pitchman and his female accomplice whose pitch is a box with fixed legs.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: If it wasn't for Harry the Horse saying that Big Jule can't make a pass to save his soul with his blank dice, Sky wouldn't have been able to make good on the deal he made with the Mission about getting in 12 genuine sinners, and then he wouldn't have reconciled with and married Sarah, and Nathan wouldn't have married Adelaide.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Many of the gamblers, including Sky.
- Opinion-Changing Dream: During the scene when the gamblers are attending the revival at the Save-A-Soul mission because Sky won a bet, Nicely-Nicely Johnson recounts a dream he had that turned him from his wild gambling ways, "Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat". (Clip from the 2011 Broadway revival is here; the 1992 Broadway revival (performed by Walter Bobbie) is here.) The trope is subverted, in that Nicely didn't change his ways and may not (probably didn't, in fact) even have such a dream at all.
- Overly Narrow Superlative: "It's the oldest established permanent floating craps game in New York."
- Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud: Not a stage direction but Adelaide manages something similar when singing from a medical journal in "Adelaide's Lament":(spoken) It says here:
The female remaining single,
Just in the legal sense,
Shows a neurotic tendency see Note.
(spoken)Tendency see note?
Oh, "see note!"
- Rewritten Pop Version: A gambling-free version of "Fugue For Tinhorns" called "Three-Cornered Tune"
- Schmuck Bait: illustrated in the advice Sky Masterson got from his father;"One of these days in your travels, a guy is going to come to you and show you a nice, brand new deck of cards on which the seal has not yet been broken. This man is going to offer to bet you that he can make the jack of spades jump out of that deck and squirt cider in your ear. Now son, you do not take this bet, for as sure as you stand there, you are going to wind up with an earful of cider."
- Later, when Nathan cons him into betting that he could take Sister Sarah to Havana, Sky looks up and says, "Daddy, I got cider in my ear."
- Second Face Smoke: During the title song, there's a sight gag where a doll who's been shopping does this to her hapless guy who carries all her packages and lights her cigarette.
- Sidekick Song:
- "Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat" for Nicely-Nicely.
- "More I Cannot Wish You" for Arvide.
- And the title song for Nicely-Nicely (again) and Benny. Nathan took it over for The Movie version, because...well, if you have Frank Sinatra in a part that only has two major songs, wouldn't you shoehorn him into everything else you possibly can?
- Unsuspectingly Soused: Sarah after drinking Dulce de Leche.
- Verbal Tic Name: Nicely-Nicely Johnson.
- Westminster Chimes: The play-out of "If I Were A Bell".