Love Me Or Leave Me (1955)


Charles Vidor's "Love Me Or Leave Me" an accomplished gangster biopic with music, offers James Cagney and Doris Day some of the best roles of their long and fruitful careers in their first outing at MGM.
Structured as a rise-and-fall saga, Daniel Fuchs and Isobel Lennart's screenplay (based on Fuch's Oscar-winning story) centers on the rise of jazz singer and dancer Ruth Etting (Day) from a country girl, through the honky tonks, to become a Ziegfeld star.
Etting, a Nabraska farm girl, is singing in a small, obscure Chicago nightclub, when she meets Martin ("The Gimp") Snyder, a racketeering laundryman. Turning into a Svengali, Snyder promotes Etting's career in showbiz and her salary jumps from the meager $25 to the impressive $2,500 a week.
He then forces her into marriage, which ultimately drives her to drinking and despair. Even so, their troubled (hot and cold) relationships last 17 years. When Etting finally confronts him with a divorce, Marty shoots her accompanist, Johnny Alderman (Cameron Mitchell).
Some hardcore fans didn't like the film because they felt that it was more a musical film than a crime-gangster in the mold of Cagney's previous efforts.
The N.Y. Times was praiseworthy: "One must admit that Cagney and Day do their job extremely well and make an uncommonly interesting and dramatic couple for a musical film." Other reviewers also liked the film, which was quite popular at the box-office.
Hitchcock was so impressed with Doris Day's work here that he cast her as the female lead in his 1956, "The Man Who Knew Too Much," opposite Jimmy Stewart.
As usual, it was Cagney's skill at giving the hard-boiled muscular great vividness and gutter gallantry that made it possible to stand him and even like him. Cagney received his third (and last) Best Actor Oscar nomination for this part. He had first been nominated in 1938 for "Angels With Dirty Faces," and had won the Best Actor Oscar in 1943 for the musical bio, "Yankee Doodle Dandy."
Oscar Nominations: 5
Actor: James Cagney
Story: Daniel Fuchs
Screenplay: Daniel Fuchs and Isobel Lennart
Sound Recording: Wesley C. Miller
Song: "I'll Never Stop Loving You," music by Nicholas Brodszky, lyrics by Sammy Cohn
Scoring of a Musical Picture: Percey Faith and George Stoll.
Ruth Etting (Doris Day)
Martin "The Gimp" Snyder (James Cagney)
Cameron Mitchell (Johnny Alderman
Robert Keith (Bernard V. Loomis)
Frobisher (Tom Tully)
Paul Hunter (Harry Bellaver)
Produced by Joe Pasternak
Directed by Charles Vidor
Camera: Arthur E. Arling
Running time: 122 Minutes