(1946)3Craig ButlerAlthough it has been cited as an inspiration for Martin Scorsese's New York, New York, The Man I Love has little in common with the latter film save for a basic situation involving a romance between musicians. Man is hardly a great film, but it's an enjoyable, if essentially sappy, little melodrama. The story is a Mulligan's stew with a little bit of this and a bit of that thrown in. There's plenty of music (including some nice "switch-singing" by Peg La Centra, standing in for Ida Lupino), lots of family troubles, a tough heroine who's really vulnerable when you dig far enough down, smoke-filled rooms, and a number of underworld types. It doesn't really add up to a satisfying whole, but Lupino's galvanizing central performance holds the film together. Whether hiding misty eyes or standing foursquare against the world, Lupino demands the viewer's attention and gives back plenty in return. Robert Alda is a bit weak, but Bruce Bennett has some good moments. The direction is uneven, and too prone to indulging the excesses of the screenplay, but it's generally okay, and there's an undeniable appeal to a lot of the nightclub scenes. Man has its flaws, but as long as Lupino is around, they don't matter too much.
Ida "Don't mess with me" Lupino takes a job as a singer in Robert Alda's seedy Santa Monica nitery. Lupino ignores Alda's advances to cultivate a romance with pianist Bruce Bennett. Alda uses his connections with the Mob to break up the relationship--and also, hopefully, to break up Bennett into little pieces. Logic is not the film's strong suit, but it scores on atmosphere and tension. Man I Love served as the inspiration for Martin Scorcese's much-later New York, New York.