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Doris Day shines in a rare dramatic role as 1920s singing star Ruth Etting, whose fraught relationship with her mentor, manager and husband, gangster Marty Snyder (James Cagney), turns deadly as her star continues to rise.
Not be missed. Originally destined for dark-haired Ava Gardner, the plum role of 1920s stage star Ruth Etting landed with Doris Day, who seized the dramatic opportunity after a series of light musicals and gave the best performance of her career. While Day was denied a much-expected Academy Award® nomination, her co-star James Cagney won a post in the Best Actor race for his volatile role as Martin "Moe the Gimp" Snyder, the Chicago mobster who became Etting's first husband and manager, propelling her from taxi dancer to nightclub and then movie stardom. Increasingly abusive and possessive, Snyder becomes a nightmare for Etting, who feels trapped by gratitude but yearns to end the marriage so she can marry her piano player (Cameron Mitchell). Powerful and compelling, Love Me or Leave Me grants Day the chance to reveal her depth not only as a dramatic actress but as a singer, interpreting Etting's jazz classics with great taste and authenticity. Lavishly produced in colour and CinemaScope, a precursor to such films as Scorsese's New York, New York, Love Me or Leave Me remains one of the treasures of fifties Hollywood.