LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME features Doris Day giving THE performance of her entire career. Forget "Calamity Jane" and "Pillow Talk". If you want to see the sheer artistry and dramatic power of Day, not to mention some fabulous musical numbers, look no further than this gem. The film was based around the strange real-life personal/professional relationship of 1920s songbird Ruth Etting, and gangland personality Marty 'The Gimp' Snyder.
The story opens in Chicago during the 1920s. Small-time chorus girl Ruth Etting (Doris Day) meets gangland hustler Marty 'The Gimp' Snyder (James Cagney) who decides to help kickstart her singing career. Pretty soon, Etting has flown Chicago for the greener pastures of New York's "Ziegfeld Follies", but is forced to leave when Marty realises he'll lose all control of her. Hollywood beckons, but the stormy and violent relationship of Ruth and Marty endures...with horrifying consequences.
For the first (and only) time in his long career, James Cagney insisted Day's name be billed above his in the opening titles. This was indeed Day's breakthrough Hollywood role after years of playing the prim ingenue of musicals like "Lucky Me", "April in Paris", and "Lullaby of Broadway".
Musical arranger/conductor Percy Faith went back to the original hits of Ruth Etting and chose the ones which were best-suited to Day's voice ("My Blue Heaven", "Mean to Me", "Ten Cents a Dance", "I Cried for You"). In addition, two brand-new numbers were written especially for the film ("Never Look Back", and "I'll Never Stop Loving You"). Percy Faith also perfectly recreated the classic jazz and big-band sounds of the 20s' and 30s' with his orchestrations, performed so thrillingly by the resident M-G-M Studio Orchestra.
The new DVD release of the film also features two rare VitaPhone shorts starring the real Ruth Etting ("Roseland", and "A Modern Cinderella"); plus the 1955 M-G-M promotional featurette "A Salute to the Theatres", hosted by George Murphy and featuring clips from many of the main 1955 films (including "Love Me or Leave Me", "Jupiter's Darling", "The Glass Slipper", "The Prodigal", and more).