Nächster Film
Freitag, 26. Juli 2019, 20.00 Uhr
In memoriam Doris Day (1922-2019)
LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME

Deutsche Titel: Tyrannische Liebe / Nachtclub-Affären Biopic-Musical mit Doris Day, James Cagney, Cameron Mitchell, Robert Keith, Tom Tully, Harry Bellaver
Chefkameramann: Arthur E. Arling
Musikalische Leitung: George Stoll
Song Arranger und Dirigent für Doris Day: Percy Faith
Drehbuch: Daniel Fuchs, Isobel Lennart
Producer: Joe Pasternak
Regie: Charles Vidor
USA 195, 122 Min.
Originalversion

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Love Me or Leave Me ist ein brillantes Biopic-Musical über die in den zwanziger und dreißigerJahren populäre amerikanische Nightclub- Sängerin Ruth Etting (1896-1978), gespielt von Doris Day in der vielleicht besten Performance ihrer Karriere. Oscar-Preisträger James Cagney ist gleichfalls sensationell als Chikagoer Mafia-Gangster- Martin ”The Gimp” Snyder. Regie führte Charles Vidor (Cover Girl, Gilda). Queens Lead-Gitarrist Brian May schrieb 2007 in einem Liebesbrief an Doris Day: ”She is technically unmatched, adorable, mind-blowingly expressive, and probably the best interpreter of a song I ever saw”.

Doris Day als Sängerin Ruth Etting, James Cagney als Martin „The Gimp” Snyder

Das dime-a-dance-Girl Ruth Etting lernt in einem kleinen Chikagoer Club den Mafia-Gangster Martin ”The Gimp” Snyder kennen, der ihr mit seinen Kontakten zur Nachtclubszene dabei helfen will, ein großer Star zu werden. Er verschafft ihr zahlreiche Engagements. Ruth, die zunehmend auf ihn angewiesen ist, lehnt eine enge Beziehung zu ihm ab. Er überredet den Pianisten Johnny Alderman, ihr Gesangsunterricht zu geben, und sehr bald bekommt sie eine Hauptrolle. Johnny, der sich wie Martin in sie verliebt hat, schlägt vor, daß sie Martin verläßt, doch ist sie der Meinung, daß er ihre Karriere fördern kann. Eine ihrer Shows führt zu einem Kontrakt mit den Ziegfeld Follies in New York, wo Ruth auf Anhieb Erfolg hat. Als ihm dort von den Theaterleuten nicht der Respekt entgegengebracht wird, den er aus Chikago gewohnt ist, wird er wütend. Doch Martins Erfolg schwindet in New York, und er fühlt sich ignoriert. Er will zu Ruths Enttäuschung sofort ihren Vertrag aufkündigen. Ruth liebt Martin zwar nicht, willigt aber aus Pflichtgefühl ein, ihn zu heiraten und die Follies zu verlassen. Ihrer Popularität tut dies keinen Abbruch, denn Martin widmet nun seine Zeit ganz Ruths Karriere. Als er für sie eine Rolle in einem Film aushandelt, reagiert sie zunächst verstimmt. Erst als sie erfährt, daß Johnny als Musikalischer Leiter des Films mit ihr arbeiteten wird, freut sie sich schließlich doch auf ihren ersten Leinwandauftritt. Als auch Martin entdeckt, daß Johnny an dem Film arbeitet, gerät er außer sich vor Wut. Ruth wirf ihm vor, nie etwas eigenständig im Leben erreicht zu haben, woraufhin er einen Nachtclub kauft, den er groß rausbringen will. Als sie sich weigert, ihre Filmkarriere aufzugeben, verliert Martin die Fassung und schlägt sie. Ruth teilt ihm mit, daß sie die Scheidung einreicht, was Martin tief verletzt. Johnny wird daraufhin nach einem Besuch bei Ruth von Martin niedergeschossen. Ruth besucht Martin im Gefängnis und erzählt ihm, daß sich Johnny im Krankenhaus befindet und sie ihn heiraten wird. Als der aus dem Gefängnis entlassene Martin in seinem neuen Nachtclub eintrifft, trifft er auf Ruth, die dort auftreten wird.

James Cagney, her co-star in Love Me or Leave Me, said ”Ms. Day had the ability to project the simple, direct idea without cluttering it.Ë® He compared her performance to Laurette Taylor’s in The Glass Menagerie on Broadway in 1945, widely hailed as one of the greatest performances ever given by an American actor. (The New York Times.)

Doris Day als Sängerin Ruth Etting, James Cagney als Martin „The Gimp” Snyder

Love Me or Leave Me doesn’t fit into an auteur theory bucket since Vidor, mostly remembered for turning Rita Hayworth into a supernova with Gilda - didn’t ”mark” his films with a particular stamp. He wasn’t prolific, but his career included screwball comedies, horror films, crime stories, and musicals, and films as diverse as Ladies in Retirement, Cover Girl, Gilda, Farewell to Arms, and Love Me or Leave Me. Doing what was ”expected of him” yielded wonderful results.

Love Me or Leave Me is the story of Ruth Etting, a singing star in the 1920s and ’30s, who got her start in Chicago nightclubs, which is where local gangster Martin Snyder first saw her. Snyder had ties to show business, and took over managing her career. The two married in 1922. He was a violent and controlling man, with a pronounced limp from a childhood accident, and later she said that she stayed with him out of a mixture of fear and pity. In October, 1938, separated from Etting and insanely jealous, he shot her new lover (and piano accompanist) Myrl Alderman. Alderman did not die from his wound, and he and Etting married in December 1938 (and stayed married until his death in 1966).

The script for Love Me or Leave Me by Isobel Lennart and Daniel Fuchs sticks pretty closely to the facts, with some minor whitewashing of realities not acceptable in 1950s film. Love Me or Leave Me is a strange film, a hybrid of conflicting genres which never quite merges into a whole, but is part of the film’s unnerving power. In its own 1950s way, Love Me or Leave Me is as frightening as Bob Fosse’s Star 80, about a similar type of relationship. While James Cagney and Doris Day both give tour de force performances, it’s a career best for Day. Cameron Mitchell finds a lot of subtlety in the thankless role of Johnny, the piano player who takes a bullet, segueing from being just another guy making a pass at her to a platonic friend and supporter to worried witness.


Shaking the Blues Away (Irving Berlin), gesungen und getanzt von Doris Day

It was Cagney’s idea to cast Day. Doris Day was a blonde thoroughbred, and a legitimate triple-threat, but underrated as an actress (and remains so now - where’s her Lifetime Achievement Award?). Nothing Day had done up to that point challenged her like the role of Ruth Etting. The following year, in Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much, she got the chance again, and the excruciating scene where she fights against the effects of the sleeping pills is a high watermark in her career. Love Me or Leave Me is filled with musical numbers (all of them were Etting hits, except for two new songs written for the film.) The songs range from quiet ballads to huge production numbers with tuxedoed chorus boys. Each song is placed in the story to reflect on the action (”Ten Cents a Dance,” coming right after Ruth caves in and marries Martin, is brutal commentary.) Vidor, gifted with musical numbers, sometimes knew the best choice was to plant the camera in one spot, and let Day sell it. She does.

But it is in the emotional arc of the character where Day’s work really shines. From the first moment she is seen on screen, kicking the shins of a dance partner who gets ”fresh” with her, we know who she is. When Snyder appears at her dressing room door, she does not cringe from his leer, but barks, ”Gotta good look?” It’s clear - even though there’s no language to support it - that Ruth has been ”messed with” by men probably from the moment she developed breasts. Watch her body language when men touch her. She’s been pawed her whole life. She sees Martin for who he is, but she’s tough, she thinks she can handle him. She wouldn’t be the first woman to make such a grave error. Ruth knows she owes Martin her career, and he guilts her into staying with him, marrying him (in a violent scene, it’s suggested he rapes her into submission.) Martin doesn’t ”gaslight” Ruth. Instead, he breaks her spirit (and then hates the ”broken” Ruth he’s stuck with). Day masterfully tracks this journey: how the light goes out of her eyes, her posture collapses, her speaking voice flattens. She is a weak animal subdued by a strong one.


Doris Day (als Ruth Etting), Cameron Mitchell (als Johnny Alderman)

Cagney made his name playing tough guys during his years at Warner Brothers. But Martin is not a retread of Cody Jarrett or Tom Powers. When he first appears, coming into the nightclub where Ruth works as a dance ”hostess,” his shadow is seen before he is, so gigantic it looms over an entire wall. Cagney comes around the corner, dwarfed by his own shadow. This evocative shot has both visual and thematic power - vidence of how carefully Vidor worked as a director, in particular with character entrances: Rita Hayworth’s entrance as Gilda remains one of the most famous character introductions in cinema! Martin is a short insecure man who will do whatever it takes to seem bigger than he is. Cagney’s physical work with the limp is phenomenal. For such a graceful man, he is believably awkward, lumbering across rooms, hauling himself up stairs. Cagney shows us Martin’s insecurities, without once making a plea for our sympathy.

Day and Cagney are both so stripped bare here, and their scenes together shatter the conventional musical genre and move into truly harrowing territory. Their fights shiver with a real sense of danger. During one dreadful confrontation, Ruth screams at Martin, ”Do you think you own me?” and the emotion is a tidal wave rising from Day’s toes. Cagney’s genius is in allowing us to see that underneath Martin’s rage is self-loathing: What’s wrong with me? Why doesn’t she like me As an actor, you are required to reveal your ugliness, your shame, your pain, your pettiness. Cagney’s willingness to do that is what makes the performance a towering one, and what makes Cagney. He was nominated for Best Actor for his performance. Other nominations for the film included Best Screenplay, Best Sound, Best OriginaL Song; and Best Score. Daniel Fuchs won for Best Story. Doris Day wasn’t nominated at all.

Sheila O'Malley: TCM Diary

USA 1954. Produktionsfirma: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Producer: Joe Pasternak. Regie: Charles Vidor. Regieassistenz: Ridgeway Callod. Drehbuch: Daniel Fuchs, Isobel Lennart. Originalstory: Daniel Fuchs. Chefkameramann: Arthur E. Arling. Art Directors: Cedric Gibbons, Urie McCleary. Set Decoration: Jack D. Moore, Edwin B. Willis. Kostüme: Helen Rose. Frisuren: Sydney Guilaroff. Maske: William Tuttle. Schnitt: Ralph E. Winters. Musikalische Leitung: George Stoll. Musikberatung: Irving Aaronson. Farbberater: Alvord Eiseman. Song Arranger und Dirigent für Doris Day: Percy Faith. Musikberatung: Irving Aaronson. Special Effects: Warren Newcombe. Supervisor Tonaufnahme: Wesley C. Miller. Choreografie: Alex Romero.

Darsteller: Doris Day (Ruth Etting), James Cagney (Martin ”The Gimp” Snyder), Cameron Mitchell (Alderman), Robert Keith (Bernard V. Loomis), Tom Tully (Frobisher), Harry Bellaver (Georgie), Richard Gaines (Paul Hunter), Peter Leeds (Fred Taylor), Claude Stroud (Eddie Fulton), Aubrey Young (Jingle Girl), John Harding (Greg Tent), Dorothy Abbott (Dancer), Phil Schumacher (Bouncer), Otto Reichow (Second Bouncer), Henry Kulky (Bouncer), Jay Adler (Orry), Mauritz Hugo (Irate Customer), Veda Ann Borg (Hostess), Claire Carleton (Claire), Benny Burt (Stage Manager), Robert B. Carson (Mr. Brelston, Radio Station Manager), James Drury (Assistant Director), Richard Simmons (Dance Director), Michael Kostrick (Assistant Director), Roy Engel (Propman), Dale Van Sickel, Johnny Day (Stagehands), Larri Thomas, Patti Nestor, Winoa Smith, Shirley Wilson (Chorus Girls), Robert Malcolm (Doorman), Robert Stephenson (Waiter), Paul McGuire (Drapery Man), Barry Regan (Guard), Jimmy Cross, Henry Randolph (Photographers), Chet Brandenberg (Chauffeur).

Originalformat: 35mm, Cinema Scope: Bildseitenverhältnis: 1:2,55. Eastman Color. Drehzeit: Dezember 1954. Atelier: M-G-M Studios, Culver City, Calif. Uraufführung: 26.5.1955, New York, NY. Deutscher Kinostart: 16.3.1956; Kinoverleih: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer-Filmgesellschaft; Erstausstrahlung im deutschen Fernsehen: 1.1.1973. (jeweils synchronisiert).

Songs: ”Mean to Me” von Roy Turk und Fred Ahlert; ”Never Look Back” von Chilton Price; ”Shaking the Blues Away” von Irving Berlin; ”Love Me or Leave Me” von Walter Donaldson und Gus Kahn; ”Sam, the Old Accordion Man” und ”At Sundown” von Walter Donaldson, ”Everybody Loves My Baby” von Jack Palmer und Spencer Williams; ”Stay on the Right Side, Sister” von Joe McCarthy und James Monaco; „It All Depends on You” von B.G. DeSylva, Lew Brown und Ray Henderson; ”Ten Cents a Dance” von Richard Rodgers und Lorenz Hart; ”I’ll Never Stop Loving You” von Nicholas Brodzky und Sammy Cahn; ”My Blue Heaven” von Walter Donaldson und Richard Whiting; ”Has Anybody Seen My Gal?”

Auszeichnungen: Oscar für die beste Originalstory und weitere fünf Oscar-Nominierungen (Hauptdarsteller James Cagney; Drehbuch, Musik für ein Musical, Sound, Song I’ll Never Stop Loving You); Nominierung für den Preis der Directors Guild of America (Charles Vidor); Nominierung für den Preis der Writers Guild of America für das beste amerikanische Musical des Jahres.