Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5. USA, 1955. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Story by Daniel Fuchs, Screenplay by Daniel Fuchs, Isobel Lennart. Cinematography by Arthur E. Arling. Produced by Joe Pasternak. Production Design by Cedric Gibbons, Urie McCleary. Costume Design by Helen Rose. Film Editing by Ralph E. Winters. Academy Awards 1955.
Fictionalized biography of singer Ruth Etting makes for a very dark musical (for its time) and provides Doris Day with one of her richest roles. She plays Etting from her early days in the roaring twenties when the opportunity to make it big through the connection of a successful hood (James Cagney) seems like a great idea. Not long after he gets her in high places, however, she realizes that she’s made a deal with the devil that she won’t soon break, costing her the love of a good man (Cameron Mitchell) and some pretty sweet gigs. She does succeed in the business, however, becoming a huge star on records, stage and even a few Hollywood appearances, but the bulk of her success takes place during the worst of her misery, married to Cagney and unhappy the entire time. Cagney’s energy, twenty-four years after his explosive entrance to cinema in The Public Enemy, is in incredible form, a mesmerizing performance that makes a hateful thug into a human being, and Day matches him as a tough gal who can’t help but appreciate the good times. Full of wonderful song and dance numbers, showing off a sexier Day than had been seen before, with knockout numbers including her Ziegfeld Follies performance of “Shaking The Blues Away” (kicking Ann Miller’s ass in the Easter Parade version) and “Ten Cents A Dance”.