Because Hollywood can’t resist a little bit of that razzmatazz, Guys and Dolls is getting another run at the silver screen courtesy of Lee Daniels’ The Butler and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay scribe Danny Strong. After two and a half years of negotiations, the musical is finally moving forward with the blessings (and relinquished rights) of Jo Loesser, the widow of songwriter Frank Loesser.
The original 1955 film looked back on the gangsters and gamblers of the 1920’s and 1930’s in New York City. As Nathan Detroit, Frank Sinatra attempts to open a floating craps game but struggles to find the funding. He sees the perfect opportunity to make some surefire cash when he runs into an old pal, a serial gambler named Sky Masterson (Marlon Brando). Detroit bets Masterson that he can’t get the wholesome Sarah Brown to go to dinner with him down in Havana — a challenge Masterson can’t resist. Both men are embroiled in their own shady dealings when they find themselves also falling in love with their respective lady loves; Masterson with Sarah Brown and Detroit with his long-suffering fianceé Adelaide.
With the script still yet to be written, the question of who will fill Brando and Sinatra’s wingtips remains. The film is, of course, based on the Tony Award-winning musical that you have either seen or been in at least twice between junior high and the end of high school. Naturally, whoever they cast in both parts need to be that special combination of old Hollywood tough guy charm, light on their feet and talented singers to boot. In tackling classic songs once crooned by Sinatra like “Luck Be a Lady,” it will be hard not to draw comparisons without a worthy singer to follow in his footsteps.
Earlier this year when the rights where acquired to the film, Fox indicated that they’d like Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Channing Tatum to take the honors. Over the years, actors like Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, and even Vin Diesel expressed interest in taking one of the leads. We’re well aware of Tatum’s dancing abilities at this point, and Gordon-Levitt, aka America’s Boyfriend, has the crooning and surprising tap dancing skills to carry the part. As Deadline pointed out, the two already sort of auditioned together at last year’s Oscars ceremony during two of the superfluous musical numbers with Seth MacFarlane that weren’t “We Saw Your Boobs.”
Without the script from Strong, casting has yet to be broached (please don’t let it be Seth MacFarlane; you know how much he loves singing Big Band). There hasn’t been any word at all on potential casting for the two female leads — Sarah and Adelaide — either. One, the straight-laced head of a mission, the other, a feisty lounge singer betrothed to a cunning gambler.
With no word surrounding Strong’s vision, it’s also possible that the film may stray away from its original setting and time period; see the in-progress Annie reboot for reference. Whatever Strong is cooking up, it’s the most creative development that has happened with the project in years. Though with Chicago executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron on board, its likely the film is going to get that same glitzy, dark razzle-dazzle that their other movie musical employed.