In the 1955 film version of Guys and Dolls, there is a series of scenes which take place in Cuba. One of the odd features of this sequence is a series of four digit numbers on the various walls around the area, as per the screenshot below (or this clip).

Wall with numbers

What do these represent? Are they reflective of an actual feature of Havana, or simply something that the director put in?

  • If anyone has a better screenshot, that would be great - that's just the best I was able to find, and it's only mediocre.
    – Bobson
    Jan 10, 2014 at 2:06
  • 2
    Any chance they are automobile licence plates? There are some places/people who put these on the wall for ambience. Jan 10, 2014 at 4:29
  • @JamesMcLeod - It's possible - but only 4 digit plates? And they were seriously all over that area. If that was a thing in Havana at the time, then that would count as "Reflective of an actual feature" and make for a good answer.
    – Bobson
    Jan 10, 2014 at 6:02
  • They might also be intended to suggest a numbers den (or "bolito," as it would have been called in Havana). Jan 10, 2014 at 18:21
  • 1
    @JohnP - Good idea. Thanks for the static capture, and I've just replaced my original very dark image with it.
    – Bobson
    Sep 10, 2019 at 17:10

1 Answer 1


They’re lottery numbers - they’re also prevalent in ‘Our Man in Havana’ based on Graham Greene’s novel. It was part of the superstitious culture of Cuba that people would look for auspicious or lucky numbered tickets being sold, so vendors would prominently post potentially favourable numbers they had for sale.

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