Thursday, March 5, 2015
LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME
"You'll never be sorry." -- Ruth
"What do you mean? I'm sorry already." -- Martin
The more or less true story of twenties singer Ruth Etting (Doris Day) and her difficult relationship to her manager and eventual husband, Martin Snyder (James Cagney). Love Me or Leave Me presents a story that was probably old even in its day and continues up until Sonny and Cher and beyond: the ambitious gal who falls in with a man who can help her and who thinks that she owes him her success and wants to control her. Cagney [Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye] is simply excellent in his highly unpleasant portrait of Snyder, although on more than one occasion he manages the significant feat of making the man sympathetic. Day [Pillow Talk] is right on top of things with Cagney and is also excellent, never overdoing things as other actresses might have done. The biggest surprise comes from Cameron Mitchell [light years from The Toolbox Murders] who is also outstanding as Johnny, the pianist who falls in love with Ruth and vice versa. Day was a talented singer, but she isn't quite a torch singer, and while she has a couple of good numbers -- such as "I'll Never Stop Loving You" and "Look Around" -- you can hear the difference between Day in the movie and Etting's recording of "Ten Cents a Dance." Despite some sentimental hogwash at the end, this is a very good biography.
Verdict: Day and Cagney in top form. ***.