Saturday, 4 December 2010

Look, who's gone Hollywood!

When Hollywood is doing a biographical film, you can be sure that they'll put a lot Hollywood in it - and so did Daniel Fuchs and Isobel Lennart when they were writing the screenplay for LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME (1955), which was directed by Charles Vidor and is about famous 1920ies singing star Ruth Etting. Though Daniel Fuchs earned an Acadamy Award for best writing, motion picture story and a Writers Guild of America Award for best written american musical.

In a nutshell:

Chicago, 1920ies. Martin “Marty –the Gimp” Snyder (James Cagney) is a big shot in – not so clean – laundry business. He knows what he wants – and he wants ex-taxi-dancer Ruth Etting (Doris Day). Ruth knows what she wants, too: She wants a career as a singer – a real big number. In this case Marty is a great help: he gets her a job as a singer, starts her radio career, puts her into the Ziegfeld Follies and brings her Hollywood to star in the movies. And then there is Johnny (Cameron Mitchell), a pianist, who was interested in Ruth. Now he is a Hollywood conductor - and Ruth is going to work with him. What will Marty do about that?

  • James Cagney asked for Doris Day to do the female lead in this film - they had worked together previously on WESTPOINT STORY (1950). LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME is the only film he - as a star - accepted second billing - he thought Ruth Etting was the central character in this film and Doris Day should be payed with a top billing for her work - and he sure was right about that.
  • Joe Pasternack who produced LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME has a short and uncredited cameo as a producer.
  • Ruth Etting wanted Jane Powell to be in the female lead - but the studio didn't to put cute Miss Powell into a Nightclub scenery..
  • You may know Harry Bellaver (Georgie) as Det. Frank Acaro from TV-series NAKED CITY (1958-63) or from ANOTHER THIN MAN (1939) from THE THIN MAN SERIES where he played "Creeps" Binder - you may remember the baby party? Sometimes I get the feeling that you could relate almost any classic film to one of the THIN MAN SERIES.. ;")
  • Jane Russell was asked to do the Ruth Etting character - but she refused.
  • Veda Ann Borg has an uncredited appearance as dance hall hostess.
  • Doris Day wrote later that she first did not want to take this role, because of it's vulgarity. After the film-release she received many fan letters which were not so polite about her playing such a dislikeable person. She answered every letter herself and declared that there was an difference between herself and her roles. In my opinion it is commandable that she did that.
  • The German titles for this film are NACHTCLUB-AFFÄREN (lit.: "Nightclub affairs") and TYRANNISCHE LIEBE (lit. "Tyrannic Love").
  • MGM's favoured Ava Gardner to play Doris Day's part - but she refused, accordingly because she did not want to be dubbed again.
  • Ruth Etting later stated that she never worked as a taxi-dancer.
  • James Cagney said that this film would be - out of all his films - in his top five.
  • According to Doris Day most of the more violent scenes between James Cangey and her were cut out.

Scene to see:

Every scene between Doris Day and James Cagney is most exquisite but to choose one: The fighting scene after the Ziegfeld show which ends in a (faded out) rape. Doris Day and James Cagney did brilliant fight scenes!!

See the beauty in it:

The blue dress Doris Day changes in after her first Ziegfeld number – the colour is amazing!

Murphy’s Law:

  • The clothes and cars aren’t always true to the era.
  • The Ziegfeld Follies NEVER billed any performers name over the show title.

Sing a song:

My favourite song is “10 cents a dance” – but there are several very good songs in this movie, like: “Shakin’ the blues away”, "Stay on the right sight, sister" and many more.

Here you have the real Ruth Etting singing for you:

Quotes Corner:

“I’m what make you tick. Don’t you ever forget that!”

I think this is one of the films Groucho Marx was referring to when he stated that he knew Doris Day “before she became a virgin.” ;”)
This film contains two of my all-time favourite actors: Doris Day (who I also appreciate as a truly gifted singer) and James Cagney. In my opinion Doris Day is a marvelous actress who is at her best when she gets the chance to act in a more dramatic role. James Cagney is indeed doing a thing that he was always good in: the gangster. I am feeling somewhat sorry for Marty who has the saddest part in this film’s trio. Though as a teenager I was fallen for Uncle Buck of HIGH CHAPARELL and I do like Cameron Mitchell – I think it wouldn’t have hurt the film when he was changed against any other young handsome actor. I don’t have a candidate for that on hand but I have not the feeling that he is putting something extremely special into this role – but to be fair: that would have been an enormous task to any actor opposite these two stars. ;”)

“You can put it down that I got the greatest respect for Miss Etting as an artist.”

The End? Wait and watch.

Yours (well and) truly

Frl. Irene


  1. Welcome to Sally from Flying down to Hollywood ! Please go and visit her blog! (I am participating on Sally's wonderful 12 days of christmas movies project and about to do a review on one of my favourite christmas films: WE'RE NO ANGELS")
    I hope you'll have a good time visiting my blog!

  2. Err.. It seems like the link to Sally's Blog
    does not work so you'll have the adress here:

    I am sorry.

  3. Great blog and an interesting piece on "Love Me or Leave Me", which I published an article on yesterday:

    So we must have both been thinking about it at the same time,

  4. Thank you, Bryan (who doesn't blog much)!
    That article of yours is amazing.
    Quite a coincidence, isn't it?!

  5. Yes, isn't it? And published the same day! Some of your comments I hadn't heard before (she didn't want to do it, for example) I knew it had upset some fans who preferred her to remain 'Doris Day' and tended to forget she was an actress. It's still a great film today but possibly the number of songs prevented it getting the critical acting acclaim it deserved, although James Cagney was nominated for best actor for his role.


  6. you gotta love Doris Day!! Your blog is so much fun! I found you on vavoom vintage's link up list! I'm your newest follower :)

  7. Doris Day! Love her!
    What a fun post!
    Thanks for popping by my blog! I'll be popping back here a bit!!

  8. Gee, Bryan! That Acadamy Award Nomination - it seems that I am ALWAYS leaving some ínformation out.. ;"$

    Yes, Carrie - I DO! :") Thank you very much!

    Hi, Helga! Pop when ever you want to! ;")

  9. I love this movie (and James Cagney, and Doris Day)! Thanks for all the behind-the-scenes factoids, good work.

  10. Thank you very much, zeldafitz79 - factoids are my purpose on life. ;")


I really appreciate your comments - I'll read them all and if I can think of an answer I'll post it. :")