Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 5, 2015


LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME (1955)  Director: Charles Vidor.

"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. ***.


angelman66 said...

Hi Bill - I love this one too. The scenes between Day and Cagney really sizzle and crackle with sexual tension--and when he finally forces her to "pay up" for all his help, it's truly harrowing. I wish Doris had done more dramatic roles in her career, she was very very good! This, and The Man Who Knew Too Much are my favorites. Cagney is magnificent in everything, and as versatile as his costar. I love those early Busby Berkeley musicals where he sings and dances with such charm...and he could alternate those with his iconic gangster roles just as effortlessly.

William said...

Yes, that's what's amazing about Cagney, he can be so appealing as a funny song and dance man and turn around and play vicious characters with equal aplomb. Day was always under-rated as a dramatic actress. I'm glad she didn't talk herself out of doing the picture!