Based on a popular stage play, Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em is a topical drama about two flapper sisters — one “good” and one “bad” — who work as shop girls in a department store. A popular and critical success, the film marked a turning point in Louise Brooks’ film career. Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em was the last movie Brooks made on the East Coast. Soon, she would leave for Hollywood and Paramount’s studio on the West Coast.
The Chicago Tribune named the film one of the six best movies of the month. Its critic, Mae Tinee, proclaimed, “Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em is one of the snappiest little comedy dramas of the season. Full of human interest. Splendidly directed. Acted beautifully.” Dorothy Herzog, film critic for the New York Daily Mirror (and Evelyn Brent’s later romantic partner) penned similarly, “A featherweight comedy drama that should register with the public because of the fine work done by the principals and its amusing gags. . . . Louise Brooks gives the best performance of her flicker career as the selfish, snappily dressed, alive number — Janie. Miss Brooks sizzles through this celluloider, a flapper lurer with a Ziegfeld figure and come-on eyes.”
Critics across the country thought Brooks stole the show. The Los Angeles Record wrote, “Evelyn Brent is nominally starred in Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em, but the work of Louise Brooks, suave enticing newcomer to the Lasky fold, stands out most. The flippant, self-centered little shop girl is given sly and knowing interpretation by Miss Brooks, who is, if memory serves aright, a graduate of that great American institute of learning, the Follies.” The Kansas City Times went further, “Louise Brooks does another of her flapper parts and is a good deal more realistic than the widely heralded Clara Bow. Miss Brooks uses the dumb bell rather than the spit-fire method. But she always gets what she wants.”
And once again, New York critics singled out the actress, lavishing praise on Brooks with the film almost an after-thought. The New York Herald Tribune critic opined, “Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em . . . did manage to accomplish one thing. It has silenced, for the time being at least, the charge that Louise Brooks cannot act. Her portrayal of the predatory shop girl of the Abbott-Weaver tale was one of the bright spots of recent film histrionism.”
John S. Cohen Jr. of the New York Sun added, “The real surprise of the film is Louise Brooks. With practically all connoisseurs of beauty in the throes of adulation over her generally effectiveness, Miss Brooks has not heretofore impressed anyone as a roomful (as Lorelei says) of Duses. But in Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em, unless I too have simply fallen under her spell, she gives an uncannily effective impersonation of a bad little notion counter vampire. Even her excellent acting, however, cannot approach in effectiveness the scenes where, in ‘Scandals’ attire, she does what we may call a mean Charleston.”
“While Mame Walsh is away on vacation, her younger sister, Janie, begins a flirtation with Mame’s sweetheart, Bill Billingsley, who clerks in the same department store where they work. Mame stages a surprise party for Bill, at which she plans to accept his proposal, until she sees Janie secretly kissing him and announces she will adopt Janie’s philosophy of “love ’em and leave ’em.” She begins an obvious flirtation with Lem Woodruff, a petty crook and gambler. Janie, meanwhile, having dissipated the funds of the department store’s welfare club in racetrack betting, tries to recover her losses with Lem’s help. Miss Streeter, the club president, threatens to prosecute, and Janie places the blame on Mame. The store masquerade finds Janie dancing with doubt-torn Bill and flirting with manager McGonigle, thereby winning promotions for all; and Mame, retrieving the club funds from Lem, is reunited with Bill.”
Production took place January 3 through 29, 1926. The film was shot at Paramount’s Astoria Studios on Long Island (located at 3412 36th Street in the Astoria neighborhood in Queens), and on location (in Central Park ?) and inside an actual NYC department store.
Under its American title, Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em, documented screenings of the film took place in British Malaysia (Singapore), Canada, China, Czechoslovakia, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, and the British Isles (England, Isle of Man, and Scotland). Elsewhere, this motion picture was known to have been shown under other-language titles including Amalos y dejalos (Argentina); Se corrió una fija (Argentina); Zwei Madel und ein Mann (Austria); Een Galant uitstaller (Belgium); Amal-as e deixal-as (Brazil); Láska ’em a odejít ’em (Czechoslovakia); Het Meisje van ‘t Warenhaus (Dutch East Indies); Oekesed võisfejad (Estonia); Le galant etalagiste (France); 百貨店 (Japan); Le galant Etalagiste! Liebe im Warenhaus! (Luxembourg); Het Meisje Van ‘T Warenhuis (The Netherlands); Meisjes die je Vergeet (The Netherlands); Kobieto nie grzesz (Poland); Amá-las e deixá-las (Portugal); Ama-O E Deixa-O (in Portuguese-American newspapers); and and ¡Amalos & y déjalos! (Spain).
The film is extant. Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em has been released for home video (from a 16mm reduction print) on VHS and DVD.
RELATED ARTICLES & REVIEWS:
— “Love Em and Leave Em screens in Fremont, CA,” by Thomas Gladysz (examiner.com, October 1, 2010).
— “Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em (1926): Problem Child,” by Nitrate Diva (blog, November 14, 2013).