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MatchFlick Member Reviews
Love Me or Leave Me
1 review

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Movie Details

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Directed By
Charles Vidor

Cast:
Doris Day, James Cagney, Cameron Mitchell, Robert Keith

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Love Me or Leave Me (1955)
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Movie Review by Derringer
October 6th, 2008

A FINE TRIBUTE TO 20'S TORCH-SINGER - RUTH ETTING

Favorite Movie Quote: "Shad-dap, you stupid, little broad!"

Contrary to popular belief, I don't shock easily. Well. I don't. So, as anyone can well imagine, it certainly came as quite an unexpected shock-er-oo for me when I found myself becoming absolutely enthralled (tha'ts right ENTHRALLED!) with MISS DORIS DAY's singing in this flick. Now, that was a monumental shock, indeed!

I mean, OK, I already knew damn well that The Original Sunny-Beam Girl, herself, MISS DORIS DAY, could actually carry a tune, alright. (I've heard her warble and chirp away in a couple of other flicks) But, I'd never realized that one of the biggest/little sucks in movie-land history could really belt it out, big time, like DAY did in LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME (LMOLM). Man-Oh-Man, there were a couple of real dynamite tunes in LMOLM (TEN CENTS A DANCE, SHAKIN' THE BLUES AWAY) where DORIS's impressive vocal talents, literally, knocked me out. And I ain't an easy dude to knock out. I'm not. Why, I totally wondered after being witness to DORIS's performances here, has this woman with these mighty fine vocal chords been singing such a load of cream-puffed crap up until now? Why?

LMOLM is pretty much a musical, bio-flick about Roaring 20's songstress, Ruth Etting. It covers the highlights of her career from between 1926-1932. In this period of time Ruth became one of the top 10 female torch-singers in the country. And I'm talking about coast to coast, right across the entire USA here. Ruth was in hot demand, both on radio and live on stage. Some of the greatest songwriters of that era were, literally, penning tunes specifically arranged for Ruth, and her unique singing style.

It was crystal clear, right from the start, that Ruth Etting's singing career would've, most likely, never amounted to anything much had it not been for Chicago racketeer, Martin Snyder (a.k.a. 'The Gimp', on account of his club-foot). This limping ape (played brilliantly by JAMES CAGNEY) was a tough-minded, shrewd 'business'- operator who actually resorted to strong-arm tactics to initially boost Etting's career. "Let Ruth sing at your club, or I'll ruin you," was Martin Snyder's familiar motto. He even employed the hired-muscle to enforce this. What a charmer.

Pushy, domineering, jealous, and obsessive, Snyder maintained a strangle-hold grip on Ruth's life, promising her the world if she would only marry him. Eventually Ruth agreed. And in return Snyder gave her top billing at The Ziegfeld Follies. And then, when his aggressively-obnoxious behaviour resulted in Ruth's dismissal from the Follies, he gave her Hollywood stardom, where she performed several musical numbers in 2 forgetable 'Talkies'.

Martin Snyder would ultimately end up in prison over the attempted murder, by shooting, of Ruth's devoted music arranger, Johnny Alderman, whom Snyder accused, in a jealous rage, of having an afffair with his wife. Johnny and Ruth were, indeed, having an affair, alright. Had been for years. (Golly. Gee. Don't you think that these hush-hush type affairs are just so romantic? I do.)

Following Snyder's release from prison, Ruth divorced him, pronto, and then immediately married the very guy that Snyder went to prison over. My-Oh-My, now, isn't that a slap in the face for ya? Gratitude never looked so fresh and rosy-cheeked as this before.

By 1933 Ruth Etting's singing career was waning seriously. Record sales were plummeting. The scandalous sensation caused by Martin Snyder's trigger-happy finger the year before didn't help matters much, either. But apart from that, Ruth's particular style of torch-singing was now totally out of vogue with the new, big-band, hep-cats of the thriving 30's. An attempt at a musical come-back in 1936 proved to be a disastrous financial failure for both Ruth and her promoters.

If you enjoy high-caliber entertainment from the fabulous 50's, the era that gave us WEST SIDE STORY & SINGING IN THE RAIN, then check out LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME. It'll certainly be worth your while.

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