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Clash by Night (1952)

Approved | | Drama, Film-Noir, Romance | 6 June 1952 (USA)
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2:25 | Trailer
Mae Doyle comes back to her hometown a cynical woman. Her brother Joe fears that his love, fish cannery worker Peggy, may wind up like Mae. Mae marries Jerry and has a baby; she is happy but restless, drawn to Jerry's friend Earl.

Director:

Fritz Lang

Writers:

Alfred Hayes (screenplay), Clifford Odets (play)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Barbara Stanwyck ... Mae Doyle D'Amato
Paul Douglas ... Jerry D'Amato
Robert Ryan ... Earl Pfeiffer
Marilyn Monroe ... Peggy
J. Carrol Naish ... Uncle Vince
Silvio Minciotti Silvio Minciotti ... Papa D'Amato
Keith Andes ... Joe Doyle
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Storyline

The bitter and cynical Mae Doyle returns to the fishing village where she was raised after deceptive loves and life in New York. She meets her brother, the fisherman Joe Doyle, and he lodges her in his home. Mae is courted by Jerry D'Amato, a good and naive man that owns the boat where Joe works, and he introduces his brutal friend Earl Pfeiffer, who works as theater's projectionist and is cheated by his wife. She does not like Earl and his jokes, but Jerry considers him his friend and they frequently see each other. Mae decides to accept the proposal of Jerry and they get married and one year later they have a baby girl. When the wife of Earl leaves him, he becomes depressed and Mae, who is bored with her loveless marriage, has an affair with him. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Beautifully Outspoken! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Italian

Release Date:

6 June 1952 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Vor dem neuen Tag See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Robert Ryan also worked in the original 1941 Broadway production, which ran for 49 performances at the Belasco Theatre. He played Joe Doyle's character, played in the movie by Keith Andes. See more »

Goofs

At the beach Earl asks Mae...."Where did you get those blue, blue eyes?" Barbara Stanwyck in fact had brown eyes. See more »

Quotes

Mae Doyle: You don't know a thing about me.
Jerry D'Amato: That ain't important.
Mae Doyle: People have funny things swimming around inside of them.
See more »

Crazy Credits

and introducing Keith Andes See more »

Connections

Featured in Marilyn Monroe: Beyond the Legend (1987) See more »

Soundtracks

I Hear a Rhapsody
Sung by Tony Martin
Written by George Fragos (uncredited), Jack Baker (uncredited) and Dick Gasparre (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

Fritz Lang in Malibu
6 December 2003 | by gleywongSee all my reviews

Why did Fritz Lang want to make this movie? Did he select the cast? "Clash by Night" was part of the recent TCM tribute to Lang, and following after the early European masterpieces, "Metropolis," and "M," one wonders how much Lang modified and compromised his early filmmaking ideals and style in resettling in Hollywood and jockey for financial support. I've not seen or read the original Odets play on which the film is based, but whatever Lang's reason for choosing it, one has to ask how the finished movie fits into Lang's output, especially the stark, powerful, stylized early pieces. A couple of features stand out: Lang always had a message-- nothing was mere observation -- that shaped the plot and characters' motivations. If Good and Evil stand out too sharply in black and white terms, Lang is still intent on sharp analysis of the turns and twists on the road to Good or Evil. Forces beyond individual characters' control are harnessed and made part of the characters motivations. Then Lang sets them on their inevitable course, and we watch, sometimes in shock or agony.

In "Clash," the imagery-- contrasting shots of sea, clouds, birds,etc, register his endorsement of the natural order of things as Good. In Metropolis, the natural order of humanity toward others was stamped out by the drive for materialism and industrial supremacy, Evil (historically predicating Nazism), symbolized always by the grinding and spouting machinery. All of the characters are tuned to a high pitch and respond with intensity. Lang's style of directing brought out the extremes -- the fortissimos-- in his actors, no matter whom he cast. Lang must have been an extraordinarily demanding director to elicit such razor-edge performances from his actors.

The fact that all the actors in "Clash" are familiar to us from other films meant Lang had to pit them against each other to an even keener degree. They are all desperate for something, whether they reveal it on the surface or not. For an actress like Stanwyck, this was an easily achieved emotional state, and she had to accept the concept of "aging" in her role. If anything, Lang forced her to keep her hard edges up a bit too much, allowing some softening only in the rather quick ending. This bit of character transformation happens only after she sees the true desperation that she's driven Paul Douglas to in the final scene in the film room.

Ah, yes, the film room. If that isn't an obvious set piece, I don't know what is. Ryan, as the third wheel, runs the projectors. Much of his dialogue is double-edged. And Ryan's character is the most desperate, the least yielding, even to Stanwyck, making his profession as a film projectionist ironic and something artificial, compared to the "natural" metier of Douglas and his father's as fishermen. They draw on the bounty of nature and so symbolize -- purposely and obviously -- pure goodness in human nature. Douglas gives a generous, sweet-tough-guy performance that is Ryan's match. Douglas never guesses what temptation he presents to his wife Stanwyck when he casually invites his best friend to stay with them. This generosity extends in particular to his overlooking faults, whether of his leeching uncle or his friend's sarcstic selfishness.

The role of the father, as a link to the Old Country and its solid gold ways is well-placed. His speech at the wedding puts his character in a nutshell: God made love, God made wine, God made friends, let everyone enjoy them, or some such pithy message. For a filmmaker like Lang, and other transplanted Europeans, the sacrifice of deep roots of their heritage and language could only be compensated for by an equally deep absorption of the customs and values of the New Country. Emigré geniuses like Lang, Wilder, or von Stroheim, never left anything behind, they reabsorbed and refashioned their material through their sharp perception of human nature in this new context. I think that is why we feel this movie to be beyond mere melodrama. I couldn't stop watching it -- the characters caught me in their predicament: they reach a universal dimension in the very simplicity and obviousness of their situations and temptations. Lang's role was to push them to that level recognition in themselves.

Even the seemingly secondary characters like Stanwyck's brother and his girlfriend, the latter played surprisingly and delightfully by a young Marilyn Monroe, give strong performances. Marilyn already shows her subtlety and emotional vulnerability. Her spontaneous response to Stanwyck's return to her brother's apartment at the beginning revealed a genuine charm, and she provided a needed sparkle in this otherwise grim film.

So why see "Clash"? Even a secondary work by a master bears his mark, and to see the mark and its features in the context of film history is still a worthwhile effort.

Of Four ****, three ***.


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