Clash by Night (1952)

Clash by Nightclash-by-night-movie-poster-1952-1020414114
Directed by Fritz Lang
Written by Alfred Hayes from a play by Clifford Odets
RKO Radio Pictures; Wald/Krasna Productions
First viewing/Amazon Instant

Peggy: Since when did you start recommending marriage?

Earl Pfeiffer: [Sardonically] Since I got my divorce.

If you did not know, you would never guess that Fritz Lang had directed this melodrama.

Jerry D’Amato (Paul Douglas) captains his Sicilian-American family’s fishing boat and looks after his drunken father and greedy uncle (J. Carroll Naish).  His best friend is the more flamboyant Earl Pfeiffer (Robert Ryan) who is the projectionist at the local movie theater. Mae Doyle (Barbara Stanwyck) comes back to the small seaside community after losing one too many times at love in the big city.  She spars with Earl but starts to go out with Jerry.  Eventually they marry and have a little girl.  There is a running subplot of the teenage romance between Mae’s brother Joe and Peggy (Marilyn Monroe).

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Earl gets a divorce (we never see his wife) and starts hanging around Jerry’s house more and more.  Although Mae adores the baby, her relationship with her husband leaves her bored and restless.  The inevitable occurs.

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This movie is relatively highly rated but was not for me.  I had a hard time getting past Paul Douglas as a simple Italian-American fisherman.  Perhaps to compensate for his miscasting, he overacts terribly in the climactic scenes. Stanwyck and Ryan were good as always and this is an opportunity to see Monroe coming into her own .  There is nothing about the story that we haven’t seen before many, many times.


Clip – Monroe on the beach

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