Working with MARLON BRANDO so enraged FRANK SINATRA he wanted to punch him in the mouth!
Despite it’s now classic status the filming of tuner “Guys and Dolls” in 1955 set its two top stars on a collision course of hate.
Starring in the film musical based on writer Damon Runyon’s tales of gangland New York and it’s bizarre array of colorful New Yawk characters were King of the Method Actors, Brando, and Rat Pack chairman, Sinatra.
As hostilities mounted, the cast and crew were soon divided between Brando backers (including director Joseph Mankiewicz and romantic lead Jean Simmons) and Frank’s supporters. By the end of shooting Marlon and Frank were only addressing one another via their flunkies.
Reportedly, Frank had signed to play the part of Nathan Detroit but soon realized Brando had the better part as Sky Masterson – scoring as both the romantic lead and getting to belt out the best number “Luck Be A Lady”.
"I wanted to play Masterson," Frank told Newsweek. "I mean nothing disparaging about Marlon Brando, but Masterson didn't fit him and he knew it."
Co-star Regis Toomey recalled that Sinatra “was snotty and very difficult, as he really didn't want to do ‘the role’."
Trying to unruffle his co-star’s feathers Brando approached Sinatra asking for help with the musical numbers, He suggested they hang out to run lines and practise harmonizing together to polish their shtick.
Sinatra balked, telling Brando he didn't go for "that Method crap" and refused. He referred to Brando as "Mumbles" and "the world’s most over-rated actor."
Sinatra claimed to press that he had been promised Brando’s part in “On the Waterfront” (1954) which netted Brando the Oscar. Brando got back at Frank saying, "Frank's the kind of guy, when he dies, he's going to heaven and give God a bad time for making him bald."
Throughout his career Sinatra was known for refusing to rehearse and would go nuts if the director wanted more than a single take.
"I don't buy this take and retake jazz," he said. "The key to good acting on screen is spontaneity, and there's something you lose a little with each take."
But Brando's approach was to rehearse, revise, improvise and discover each nuance, getting totally into his character’s beat. This, naturally, drove Frank nuts!
Seeing that this succeeded in raising Frank’s ire, Brando exploited this.
He’d do an entire scene between them perfectly and then purposefully blow it on the last line – forcing retake after retake.
In the "Do we have a bet?" sequence, Sinatra was supposed to chow down on Mindy's cheesecake while Brando said his lines – which he’d “accidentally” blow at the end of the shot.
With every retake, Sinatra was steaming as he was given yet another piece of fresh cheesecake to eat. After eight tries, Frank was more than sick of Brando – he was nauseous.
When the ninth take was blown, Frank exploded in rage. He jabbed his fork into the table, screaming, "These f**king New York actors! How MUCH cheesecake do you think I can eat?!"
But Frank had the last laugh as Brando was no professional singer and a novice to the techniques of filming musicals.
Lip syncing to a pre-recorded track had Brando going bananas.
Brando wrote in his autobiography, "They sewed my words together on one song so tightly that when I mouthed it in front of the camera, I nearly asphyxiated myself because I couldn't breathe while trying to synchronize my lips."