Clash by Night (1952)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

The opening credits appearing over a turbulent ocean serve as a foreshadowing of things to come in this standard-issue love triangle that shifts into high drama thanks to taut direction by Fritz Lang and a sizzling performance by Barbara Stanwyck. Returning to live with her brother, Joe (Keith Andes), at her family's home in a small fishing village, Mae Doyle (Stanwyck) has reached rock bottom. Reeling from the pain of her previous romances, Mae slowly pieces things together and begins dating … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Mystery & Suspense, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Clifford Odets, Lawrence V. Hayes, Alfred Hayes, David Dortort
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jul 5, 2005


as Mae Doyle D'Amato

as Jerry D'Amato

as Earl Pfeiffer

as Uncle Vince

as Joe Doyle

as Sad-Eyed Waiter

as Fisherman at Pier

as Guest

as Guest

as Bartender

as Bartender

as Customer

as Customer
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Clash by Night

All Critics (15) | Top Critics (4)

Clifford Odets' Clash by Night, presented on Broadway over a decade earlier, reaches the screen in a rather aimless drama of lust and passion.

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

The Clifford Odets screenplay seems to have roused the realist in director Fritz Lang: the backwater atmosphere is as authentic as it is oppressive.

Full Review… | February 9, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

A very Langian picture of the dangerous undercurrents in emotional relationships, excellently acted by the three principals.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

It lacks conviction and distinction despite its hard-working principals.

Full Review… | March 25, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

What is surprising is that this inexpensive RKO melodrama is from once revered émigré director Fritz Lang, who fails to disguise the inherent dullness of the original material or to mask the obvious studio backdrops and poor matching front projection.

Full Review… | October 15, 2014
Radio Times

A Stanwyck field day, in the kind of role she could do with her eyes closed, but because it's well-directed by Fritz Lang, the actress can let go with the snarls, venom, and wounded savagery we've come to expect and love.

Full Review… | October 15, 2014
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Audience Reviews for Clash by Night


The potential ultimate noir coupling of Stanwyck and Ryan results in this solid but not quite socko near-noir.

DVD features great Bogdanovich talk thru - for which, to judge by his level of enthusiasm and preparation, Peter was compensated a sandwich, a soda and chips.

Bob Stinson

Super Reviewer

Come on, what hot blooded, wire bra-ed bombshell wouldn't choose the dashing Robert Ryan over the lumpy Paul Douglas? Except, of course, when Douglas is a kind-hearted, lovable teddy bear and Ryan is a self absorbed, misogynist prick.

Barbara Stanwyck was a master at playing flawed characters and her Mae Doyle is about as flawed as they come. Bad girl, good film, great actress.

Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

fritz lang's "clash by night" is a psychological drama about the paradoxical mentality of female perplexity about life and its harboring cease. babara stanwyck would be the individualistic rebel lady who drifts everywhere to seek her dreams even eventually she winds up with "big dreams, small results"

stanwyck plays mae doyle, a woman who wanders from home for 10 years, a prodigal daughter retreats back to her homeland with one bitter remark "home is the place to go when you run out of places", a woman who wants her man to "fight off the blizzards the floods" just to make her feel "confident"....a egoist who abides nothing but motivated by her anguishes to live and explore the world with novelty. a woman who claims that she would never be satisfied enough to give any man happiness since her character is webbed with too much ambivalent affirmations to be genuinely tamed by any man, and mae shrewdly sneers at the world with her sass and sharply sardonic wits until she meets her fellow rebel earl (robert ryan) who is a cynical grudgy man embittered with spousal tumults, uttering quibs like "wouldn't you wanna cut a beautiful dame up?" "i like the woman who stays on ceiling when i throw all of them above"...a volcanic man with enough individuality to rival mae....and this resistant ambiguity also arouses mae's animosity.....thus she chooses to marry her another suitor jerry with the clumsy looks of ape but has a generous heart of gold despite his simple-mindedness cannot provide the thrilling kicks of life mae's always craving for.

it might appear somehow melodramatic but the script offers plenty of wisecracking wisdom between the lines to depict each character with enough distinctive contour of humanity. and the episode of marilyn monroe who plays the girlfriend of mae's brother is also quite pleasantly juxtaposed with her talks of feminism and refusal of being trapped as cannary in marriage....

inevitably mae's being lured away by charismatic earl who whispers love with more refined skills than stupified jerry....ultimately mae succumbs to her sense of feminine duty instead of her intense drive of egoism....accurately speaking, she lifts up the veil of her selfism to ripe into mature womanhood since the world is not always "her disappointment, her unhappiness"...

only brilliantly talented stanwyck could incarnate into such fickle role with multiple outbursts of complexity conviningly....only stanwyck has enough charisma to redeem this character with comprehensible pathos...a well-performed stagy flick upon the theme of woman and her choices over the crossroad of life.

Veronique Kwak

Super Reviewer

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