Clash by Night - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Clash by Night Reviews

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September 8, 2017
Curiously overtalky film about the pains, perils and philandering gong on in a fishng village. All the aciting here s first rate, but the story seems recycled, hardly anything happens n the first half and the dialogue s a bit too much coming out of the mouths of simple fishng folk lol
½ July 10, 2017
A sad yet realistic love melodrama set in a fishing town.
July 8, 2017
Stanwyck, Paul Douglas, Robert Ryan ok movie
February 14, 2014
At times this feels much more "raw" than A Streetcar Named Desire, and better, too. Paul Douglas is terrific in this, Monroe shines in a small role, and Robert Ryan is slightly miscast in what should be a better and more intense role.
½ November 16, 2013
Fritz Lang's reworking of Clifford Odets' play (which I haven't read) probably adds an extra layer of DOOM to the proceedings, arising from the preordained destinies of the people based on their personality types (which they themselves frequently acknowledge). There is jaded, selfish Barbara Stanwyck, unwilling to commit to the traditional female roles (although she tries anyway). There is gentle bear Paul Douglas, a tolerant sentimental and perhaps foolish fisherman who she marries. There is wicked Robert Ryan, swaggering sarcastic mean-spirited but insecure, with whom she rebels. (Marilyn Monroe is here too as the impressionable young girl who looks up to Stanwyck). Although stagey at times with sometimes ostentatious dialogue (a la Odets), by the end, the characters feel lived in and real, their choices natural. Lang won't quite commit to the ending shown here, but I'd imagine that he doesn't believe it either.
½ March 23, 2013
Barbara Stanwyck may just be the best actor who never won an Oscar, male or female. (And Peter O'Toole.) She is terrific in this. So glad she won multiple Emmys for her tv roles.
½ March 20, 2013
Where They Have to Take You In

Maybe Marilyn Monroe would have had a better career if she'd been allowed to play the kind of bad girls Barbara Stanwyck made her name playing. Okay, and if she'd had someone really seriously working on her self esteem instead of taking advantage of it, but I've always felt Marilyn's psychological issues were complicated, possibly too complicated for the mental health treatment options of the time. I think serious concentration on her self esteem issues, however, would have enabled her to make fewer mistakes, and I think one of the great mistakes of her career was that she was pigeonholed as just another dizzy blonde. I'm not saying putting her in that slot was wrong, but I think she did her best work when she wasn't playing the Marilyn Monroe Character. She worked best when she played characters who were touched with, well, similar pasts to her own, ones that weren't all light and joy.

Mae Doyle (Stanwyck) is returning home again after many years away. She doesn't want to, but she doesn't have much of a choice. She had been the mistress of a wealthy man, but he died, and though he left her money, his wife successfully challenged the will. The only home she has left is with her brother, Joe (Keith Andes, who looks a bit like Hugo Weaving). This means returning to the small fishing village (Monterey, in the movie, but somewhere on Staten Island in the play). When there, Mae becomes the focus of interest of several men. She finds herself strangely drawn to Earl Pfeiffer (Robert Ryan), but he's married. She lets herself agree to marry Jerry D'Amato (Paul Douglas), who is older and kinder. She doesn't think she will be the right wife for him, but at the same time, she thinks it's better than any other chance at life she has. Besides, her brother wants to marry his girlfriend, Peggy (Monroe), and he's worried that perhaps Peggy is listening a little too much to Mae.

What he really ought to be worried about is that she'll listen to Mae when Mae talks about how attracted she is to Earl and why he's no good for her. Earl and Joe have an awful lot in common, and it isn't good. There's a scene where Peggy is looking at some of the other attractive men in the area, and Joe ropes a towel around her neck and basically play-strangles her until she gives all her attention to him. And it doesn't seem that playful. Earl, when talking about the kind of woman he'd stay with, suggests throwing all women at the ceiling and living with whichever one sticks to it. That's odd and troubling phrasing. Mae clearly loves Earl quite a lot, but he still doesn't treat her very well. He disparages her feelings. He has no respect for her intelligence, not that the film gives us a lot to go on about how much she has. He loves that she looks like Barbara Stanwyck and has Barbara Stanwyck's gift for banter and toughness, but how long would that last?

Mae's biggest problem is that there is no real way out for her. No matter how intelligent she may or may not be, she definitely isn't educated. She's a girl from a fishing town, where someone can unironically say that someone else is "in the movie business" because he runs the projector at the theatre. She's tired of marriage after a year, no matter how much she loves her daughter, but when she came back home, she knew she wouldn't have much else to do with the rest of her life. She isn't trained to have a job. She isn't educated--if she has more than a high school diploma, that would be surprising for a woman from her time and background. She can spend the rest of her life gutting fish, but that doesn't hold much appeal, either. She gets married, because she doesn't know what else there is for a woman like her to do. Even though she knows she's going to hurt Jerry, she feels she has no option left. At least Jerry is kind to her, which is rare for the men in her life.

This is one of those movies that made me glad I don't actually live in the era in which they were made. We see Mae's wedding reception, and they're handing out cigars. The smoke is so thick that I initially thought we were watching a flashback. The edges of the picture are fuzzy and indistinct, because there's so much smoke. While I don't think anyone would quite approve of Earl--or Jerry--beating Mae, it is clear that everyone seems to think that what Mae wants isn't as important as what the men in her life want. Joe is her younger brother, but he's in charge of the household. She probably sees that the way he's treating Peggy is worrying, but she wouldn't say anything, because she's lived her whole life believing that it's just how men treat women. True, we don't know anything about her relationship with the married politician, but we know that it was an unequal relationship, and she ended it no better off than she'd started. She doesn't love her old hometown, but she doesn't really know anything else.
January 15, 2013
Interesting characters and setting...Stanwyck, Douglas and Ryan are terrific--Bruising Drama!!
August 31, 2012
god, so much better than one might think after reading the synopsis. Also, Monroe is great in this one too.
½ August 30, 2012
Barbara Stanwyck plays Mae Doyle, a woman who outgrew her small fishing village hometown the day she was born. She comes back to live with her younger brother after the last of her men has run out of money or found someone younger. To set the tone for this movie she gives a great quote about why she came back, "home is where you come when you run out of places." The main story revolves around Mae and two local men; Jerry, Paul Douglas, a gentle slow fisher, and Earl, Robert Ryan, a hard-drinking, married, projectionist. Mae is attracted to Earl but since he reminds her of her past she becomes involved with Jerry, they get married and have a child. But Mae is unhappy and unwilling to give up her past and has an affair with Earl, which Jerry finds out and leaves with the child. It takes some tense moments but Mae realizes what she wants and convinces Jerry to take her back. The three stars shine in this gripping love-triangle drama. The sense of desperation is enhanced with the relationship between Mae's brother and his girlfriend, Peggy, played by Marilyn Monroe, who is very pretty but is working in the fish cannery, something Mae was sure to avoid. Follows a belief that the grass may not always be greener on the other side.
August 3, 2012
great steamy melodrama
December 20, 2011
Clash By Night is an intriguing film. It is about a woman who comes back to her hometown a cynical woman. Barbara Stanwyck and Paul Douglas give excellent performances. The screenplay has a few flaws but still good. Fritz Lang did a great job directing this movie. I enjoyed watching this motion picture because of the drama. Clash By Night is a must see.
½ October 24, 2011
The ending is a bit muddled but this is a fantastic film. It's wonderfully composed with impeccable camera placement, and the atmosphere is intense. It has some great performances too.
Super Reviewer
½ August 20, 2011
In "Clash by Night," Mae(Barbara Stanwyck) has returned to Monterey after a ten year absence to be reunited with her younger brother Joe(Keith Andes) and meets his girlfriend Peggy(Marilyn Monroe) who work in the local cannery. Jerry(Paul Douglas), who owns his own fishing boat, runs across Mae in a bar where he has found his elderly father(Silvio Minciotti) who his uncle Vince(J. Carrol Naish) was supposed to have been looking after. Jerry wonders aloud if he has a chance with her. It turns out that yes he does and they go out for a date to the movies where he introduces her to his pal Earl(Robert Ryan) who works there as a projectionist.

Directed by Fritz Lang, "Clash by Night" is a compelling slice of life movie, performed well by its eclectic cast, that is set in an insular community that has to work hard for everything that it gets. Jerry is his own boss and is considered a success. With that comes added responsibilities like taking care of his older relatives. At the same time, he looks up to Earl who has the slightest of connections to show business and through that to the outside world. That's where Mae just returned from, jaded from her experiences.
August 18, 2011
I really didn't like this movie. Mae (Stanwyck) comes to her hometown to start a new life, and decides to live with her brother (Andes) and his girlfriend (Monroe). A hot spot is the fishing dock, and there she meets Jerry (Douglas). They start dating, and though she doesn't love him, she thinks it would be a good idea if she marries him to get support and protection. When they finally do though, she finds herself falling for Jerry's friend Earle (Ryan). They start having an affair, but then Jerry finds out ... "Clash by Night" is very obviously a vehicle for both Stanwyck and Monroe. It definitely shows how well Stanwyck does in drama, and proves that Monroe could once in a while step away from comedies. While I liked these aspects, I did not like how soapy this movie was. Yes, the acting is excellent, but seeing so many other Fritz Lang movies, I can say I was very disappointed. This is supposedly a film noir, but I'm not sure how it even qualifies. It's more of a melodrama, and though I like those, it just is not as good. There's too much overacting, especially from Robert Ryan (which is shocking) and Keith Andes. "Clash by Night" to me, is just a typical soaper. For some good melodramas, I'd head over to some Greta Garbo movies.
½ April 5, 2011
A jaded woman returns to her hometown and soon sets things stirring by some of the menfolk. Will she be able to choose and if she does, will she stick with it?

It's really the excellent, film noir-ish cinematography and above all, Stanwyck's portrayal that make this film above run of the mill. Other than that it's "notable" for being the first film where Marilyn Monroe's name is above the title, although alterations to her character eventually ended her up with playing yet another bit part, but at least she got to do some acting here, and from here on her career truly took off.

Worth mentioning as well I think is Paul Douglas; who is certainly not the most glamorous or handsome star (good heavens, no, he isn't!). When he's playing the good old doofus part of his character, he feels a bit hammy to me, but when he later on loses his shit, Douglas channels all the overflowing emotions so intensely that he's positively scary.
Super Reviewer
December 3, 2010
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.
½ September 28, 2010
Sep 2010 - I was very much disappointed at the story and its very conservative point. I cannot tell if this is a conservative side of Lang (and I hope it is not) or merely an attempt to secure the box office success of the movie. The demonization of liberal views for women is in fact intolerable. So what remains is a bit of Lang's technic, his mastery in showing his characters at times of desperation and finally a very good performance by Barbara Stanwyck.
½ July 25, 2010
this is my 2nd time watching it. kinda got bored in the middle of it. robert ryan's chinese imitation left me speechless. seen him in 3 movies now where he plays the racist
½ May 1, 2010
Some unbelievable one liners in this classy film. Love, passion, lust, betrayal, responsibiltiy, trust, betrayal - pretty much has it all and no happy ending - well maybe
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