"Luck Be A Lady" is a song so indelibly associate with legendary crooner Frank Sinatra that it's sometimes hard to remember that in the classic 1955 film version of "Guys and Dolls" it was sung by co-star Marlon Brando rather than Frank.
Brando, who was hardly the gods' gift to song, reportedly struggled mightily with the musical elements of the film, and the version of "Luck Be A Lady" that we hear in the movie is a patchwork of many takes spliced together to make one usable song.
Ten years after the film version of "Guys and Dolls" was released, Sinatra got some of his own back when he recorded the song for his album Sinatra '65: The Singer Today, quickly adopting it as one of his signature pieces.
Today the song endures as a classic. I was first introduced to it as a boy seeing the film of "Guys and Dolls," during which I fancied that in the end Sky would grow bored with his stick in the mud Salvation Army sergeant, and Nathan, having reach the point where he couldn't handle Adelaide's whining for a moment longer (I after all, could barely survive one song), would take his hand and the two wastrels would stroll their way down Broadway, together forever. It's possible that I was a slightly naive child.
Watching Brando's rendition of this song however, it is inconceivable to me how anyone could be surprised that he batted for the boys' team, at least some of the time. I know that there're cultural differences due to the film being nearly a half-century old, not to mention that musicals bring out a bit of the queen in everyone, but there are moments in this film when he really comes off as a bit of a faygeleh.
I don't feel like I can feature "Luck Be A Lady" without at least acknowledging that it's hardly the most forward thinking song in the history of musical theater when it comes to women. There's nothing like an all male chorus defining what it means to be a "lady" after all. Still, underlying misogyny and all, this song remains a standard against which other Broadway songs are measured, and there's no shortage of versions out there.
Here are a small sample, let us know which you prefer in the comments: