Friday, June 24, 2011

Juliet Goodfriend: Why I Love GUYS AND DOLLS

We all have our favorite movies. Sometimes they inspire us, or remind us of sharing a popcorn bucket with someone special, or make us laugh even though we can deliver the lines ourselves in our sleep. One of the wonderful things about working at BMFI is that we get to share some of our favorite films with you; we hope they might become some of your favorites, too. BMFI's President, Juliet Goodfriend, contributes the first in a series of posts written by BMFI staff and volunteers about the movies they love that are showing this summer at BMFI.

Why I Love Guys and Dolls
Juliet Goodfriend, BMFI President

My memory of Guys and Dolls precedes the movie. I think my parents went to the try-outs for [the stage production of] Guys and Dolls in Philadelphia in 1950. As they did with every musical they saw, they brought home sheet music from the performance and my brother, sister, father, mother, and I sang the songs as Mom played them on the piano. So the music became imbedded in my memory, in my very being.

Well, when the movie came out I saw it first (and subsequently two more times) at the Erlen Theater on Ogontz Avenue in Philadelphia in 1955. That theater had a midnight blue ceiling with gold stars and around the edges of the auditorium was the silhouette of a Spanish--or was it a Moorish?--city. It was very exotic and romantic. 

Hearing Frank Sinatra's golden tones blended in my imagination with Marlon Brando's gorgeous "bad boy" looks and kept me rapt through all three viewings.  I imagined someone was singing those love songs to me.  Not "someone"--no, Marlon himself! Even if his voice did not compare with Sinatra's, his earnest, apologetic, and strangely innocent singing and dialogue won my heart. The story? The plot? Oh, not nearly so important as the songs.... they still work magic for me.

Join Juliet at Bryn Mawr Film Institute's sing-along screening of Guys and Dolls on Wednesday, June 29 at 7:00pm. Free popcorn if you wear a costume!

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