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  • boblipton1 January 2008
    Ruth Etting was a Broadway star who made occasional passes at the movies, but they never took. An interesting biopic, LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME, starring Doris Day as Miss Etting and stolen by Jimmy Cagney was made in the mid-fifties at MGM (not Warners). How much truth is involved is a matter of conjecture.

    In this one there is a plot as she and her agent try to get her to see an impresario who can give her a break. She sing three songs. There is also one interlude in which the Canova family appears. It is Judy Canova's first screen appearance.

    The director of this short film is Joseph Henabery, who basically operated out of the old Vitaphone studio in Brooklyn until it went into war work. One of D.W. Griffith's disciples, he tells a bit of his story in Kevin Brownlow's THE PARADE'S GONE BY.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This particular short subject that starred Ruth Etting plays like a mini-musical. It has a plot of sorts with Ruth as a singing cigarette girl trying to get a break and of course eventually doing so.

    Etting sings three songs in her intimate style from the Twenties. She and Helen Morgan were the main female song stylists of the Roaring Twenties, between them they counted for a ton of hit songs, familiar even to this generation.

    Ruth sings Shine On Harvest Moon, I Cried For You and I Wanna Be Loved. The last I happen to have her recording of. She took it over from Nora Bayes who introduced it, when Bayes died in 1928 it became part of the Etting repertoire.

    I couldn't help but notice how non-intimate Ruth got with any of her cast members. No romance of any kind, not a hint of a producer's casting couch in this one. No doubt due to the influence of her very jealous husband Marty Snyder. That story as we all know is told in the film Love Me Or Leave Me with James Cagney and Doris Day playing the married Snyders.

    The Song Of Fame is a good introduction to Ruth Etting.
  • Ruth Etting was a star...just not in Hollywood, where she made just a few appearances. Instead, her songs were huge hits and she sold tons of records. She's best remembered today as the subject of a very fictionalized biopic, "Love Me or Leave Me". Here in "The Song of Fame" you have a rare chance to see her on film and she sings several of her big hits. Unfortunately, this short film also features the first appearance by Judy Canova and her family...and they are just godawful and I have no idea how she ever became famous. THAT I can understand.

    The story begins with Ruth working as a singing cigarette girl in a nightclub. She hopes to be discovered and her agent swears that some big talent scout will come see her act. But to speed up the process, she and her agent plan on auditioning for the guy...whether he likes it or not!

    Every time Etting was on the screen, I enjoyed it. She had a lovely voice and my assumption is that she didn't become a screen star because she was a bit old here--nearly 40. It's a shame, but 38 was considered old for leading ladies back in the day...and perhaps things haven't changed that much.

    On the other hand, I have no idea why they put the Canova family in this short. Their style is the complete opposite of Etting's. Ruth was classy and smooth...and Judy was anything but either! Unless you've heard her sing, you probably think I am exaggerating but I think she's about the most annoying singer of the 1930s and 40s....and a terrible complement to Etting.

    Overall, worth seeing...just do the dishes or take a bathroom break when the Canovas come on screen. They are THAT bad....but the rest is quite lovely.