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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Love Me Or Leave Me (1955)

A struggling singer (Doris Day) in 1920s Chicago finds a mentor in a thug (James Cagney) who runs a protection racket. She uses him to help her jump start her career which soon takes off. But she quickly finds that he has other ideas and he won't be so easy to get rid of. Loosely based on the life of singer Ruth Etting and her relationship with Moe Snyder. It suffers from the usual tried and true biopic predictability: struggle and hardship, followed by success, then comes heartbreak and problems, overcoming the setbacks etc. But the two central performances by Day and Cagney are excellent, among the best in both their long careers. The relationship of Day and Cagney form the core of the film and it's interesting to see Day play a rather manipulative character using an older man as her "sugar daddy" on her climb to the top only to find she can't control him the way she thought she could. Cagney manages to make his bully rather pathetic and fearsome at the same time. The film is crammed with popular standards associated with Etting's career, the musical highlight being the spectacular Ziegfeld Follies number, Shaking The Blues Away which showcases Day's dancing ability. Directed by Charles Vidor (GILDA). With Cameron Mitchell, Robert Keith, Harry Bellaver and Tom Tully.  

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