Metro's concept of the Ruth Etting story [from a screen story by Daniel Fuchs] embodies one of the two basic Hollywood filmusical formulae: and-then-I-wrote or and-then-I-sang. While it's not the usual songsmith cavalcade (Etting was and is depicted essentially as a song delineator), it does blend so rich a medley of some of the more popular standards of the 1920s that it's virtually a salute to ASCAP.

Metro’s concept of the Ruth Etting story [from a screen story by Daniel Fuchs] embodies one of the two basic Hollywood filmusical formulae: and-then-I-wrote or and-then-I-sang. While it’s not the usual songsmith cavalcade (Etting was and is depicted essentially as a song delineator), it does blend so rich a medley of some of the more popular standards of the 1920s that it’s virtually a salute to ASCAP.

The off-beat aspects of the strange real-life relationship of Etting and ‘Col.’ Moe (here called Martin) Snyder has been caught with an honesty and realism that borders on creating mixed emotions. In short, Doris Day as Etting, is so consumed by ambition as to blot out the nefarious antecedents of ‘The Gimp,’ so ably played by James Cagney. His personation of the clubfooted Chicago hoodlum and muscle-man is the Cagney of the Warner Bros. gangster pictures of the early 1930s – hard-bitten, cruel, sadistic and unrelenting.

It becomes difficult betimes to know for whom to root. Their ‘marriage’ is a strange thing. Her recourse to the bottle; her dull-eyed acceptance of the somewhat unholy nuptial alliance; her consuming ambition to scale the heights; her careful decorum vis-a-vis pianist-arranger Johnny Alderman (well played by Cameron Mitchell); the patience of the agent (Robert Keith, another good job); the dogged faithfulness of Harry Bellaver as the dimwit stooge-bodyguard, and the rest of it, make for an arresting chunk of celluloid.

Musically there’s almost too much but Day does uncork a flock of socko standards, and two good new ones, ‘I’ll Never Stop Loving You’ (Brodzky-Cahn) and ‘Never Look Back’ (by Chilton Price).

Under Metro filming, in CinemaScope and color, it’s a rich canvas of the Roaring 20s with gutsy and excellent performances.

Love Me or Leave Me

Production

M-G-M. Director Charles Vidor; Producer Joe Pasternak; Screenplay Daniel Fuchs, Isobel Lennart; Camera Arthur E. Arling; Editor Ralph E. Winters; Music George Stoll (sup.), Percy Faith (arr.); Art Director Cedric Gibbons, Urie McCleary

Crew

(Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1955. Running time: 122 MIN.

With

Doris Day James Cagney Cameron Mitchell Robert Keith Tom Tully Harry Bellaver
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