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Love Me or Leave Me (1955)

Passed | | Biography, Drama, Music | 10 June 1955 (USA)
A fictionalized account of the career of jazz singer Ruth Etting and her tempestuous marriage to gangster Marty Snyder, who helped propel her to stardom.

Director:

Charles Vidor

Writers:

Daniel Fuchs (screenplay), Isobel Lennart (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Doris Day ... Ruth Etting
James Cagney ... Martin Snyder
Cameron Mitchell ... Johnny Alderman
Robert Keith ... Bernard V. Loomis
Tom Tully ... Frobisher
Harry Bellaver ... Georgie
Richard Gaines ... Paul Hunter
Peter Leeds Peter Leeds ... Fred Taylor
Claude Stroud ... Eddie Fulton
Audrey Young ... Jingle Girl
John Harding John Harding ... Greg Trent
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Storyline

In 1920's Chicago, Ruth Etting wants to be a renowned singer, which is a far step away from her current work as a taxi dancer. Upon walking into the dance hall and seeing her, Chicago gangster Marty Snyder immediately falls for Ruth, and works toward being her lover, which he believes he can achieve by opening up singing opportunities for her. Ruth is initially wary of Marty, but makes it clear that she is not interested in him in a romantic sense. Regardless, he does help her professionally, and through his opportunities, which are achieved through intimidation and fear, Ruth does quickly start to gain a name as a singer, which she is able to do because of her talent and despite Marty's intimidation tactics. However, the greater her success, the more reliant she becomes on him. This becomes an issue in their relationship as she believes he can take her only so far before he becomes a liability, however he will never let her go that easily. The one person who tried and tries to get ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

You'll Love it!...The Big Lavish Musical of the Roaring Twenties! See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

10 June 1955 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Les pièges de la passion See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,760,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

3 Channel Stereo (Westrex Recording System) (5.0) (L-R)

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Of the sixty-two films he made, James Cagney wrote that he rated this among his top five. See more »

Goofs

In the film, Etting marries her "manager" Moe Snyder during her run with the Ziegfeld Follies of 1927. They actually married in 1922. See more »

Quotes

Martin Snyder: [Indignantly to Ruth] Now look here, you stupid little broad, do you know who I am? Do you think I let dames talk to me that way?
See more »

Connections

Featured in What a Difference a Day Made: Doris Day Superstar (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Everybody Loves My Baby (but My Baby Don't Love Nobody but Me)
(uncredited)
Music by Spencer Williams
Lyrics by Jack Palmer
Sung by Doris Day
See more »

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User Reviews

 
As Ruth Etting, Day delivers knockout performance, equally matched by Cagney
17 January 2004 | by bmacvSee all my reviews

Before she became America's top box-office star by playing its oldest virgin, Doris Day was an instinctive, if untutored, actress and an accomplished, popular singer. In Charles Vidor's Love Me Or Leave Me, she takes on the part of Ruth Etting, the troubled songstress from the jazz age, and her twin talents merge memorably. It's a faultless performance, all the more impressive for staying understated, scaled down.

Her co-star, James Cagney, takes the low road; as Marty (`The Gimp') Snyder, a lopsided fireplug of a man, he sizzles with resentment and ignites into rages. Strangely, his scenery-chewing complements Day's underplaying; the tension between their temperaments fuels this dark drama which occasionally resembles a musical but is closer at heart to film noir (Vidor, after all, directed Gilda).

A taxi-dancer in a Chicago dive, Day catches Cagney's eye (he holds the linen-laundering concession for the place). Finding she's not the quick pick-up he had in mind, he lands her a job in the kick-line at another nitery he services. When he finds out she wants to be a singer, he arranges for lessons with pianist Cameron Mitchell (who plays the thankless role of the loyal but shoved-aside lover). But Cagney, used to getting what he wants and to browbeating everybody around him into surrender, meets his match in Day. Her quiet determination proves every bit as strong as his bellowing bluster. When it looks like her star is in ascendancy, he becomes her manager, puts her on radio, and snares her a spot in New York as a headliner in the Ziegfeld Follies.

They settle into a grudge-match of a marriage, with guerrilla warfare erupting from both sides. (Cagney's Snyder is a marginally less disturbed version of his Cody Jarrett in White Heat.) One of their flashfire fights takes place in her dressing room after a show. Cagney knocks a vase of flowers across the room; Day extends her arm for him to unclasp a bracelet. They bicker some more, with Cagney losing the argument while Day nurses the drink that has become her ally. He leans over and tells her `You oughtta lay off that stuff – you're getting to look like an old bag.' It's the chilliest moment in the movie.

In the last third, Day answers a call from Hollywood, which lays the foundation for the unravelling of this messy, nerve-wracking relationship. And if the wrapping up grasps toward the sentimental (with a detour into the melodramatic), it doesn't quite take. Cagney, actor and character, hangs on like a bulldog with a bone. The Marty Snyders never change, and Cagney knows it; he stays the self-deluded small-time hood he started out as, who can't accept that he's driven away a woman he can't believe he loves so much.

Day, however, rises to a magnanimity that rings hollow. Her steely self-confidence about where her talents would bring her, and her casual callousness in using Cagney to help her get there, make her final gesture improbable. But when she takes the spotlight, singing `Mean to Me' or `Ten Cents A Dance' (with her feet planted provocatively – defiantly – apart), Day, actress and character, takes it by natural right. The voice isn't quite right – Etting's was reedy and tremulous, Day's big and secure – but the assurance and style are dead on.


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