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Clash by Night

4.3 out of 5 stars 72 customer reviews

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(Jul 05, 2005)
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Editorial Reviews

Mae Doyle is a good-time girl, but now times are bad. Weary of too much booze and too many men, she returns to her girlhood home, the fishing village of Monterey, California. There she finds security as the wife of a devoted and dull fisherman?and passion in the arms of his provocative best friend. Film noir master Fritz Lang (The Big Heat, Ministry of Fear) directs four towering talents - Barbara Stanwyck, Paul Douglas, Robert Ryan and rising star Marilyn Monroe - in a stark tale of lives burnished by human emotion and shattered by human failings. Intense and powerfully realistic, Clash by Night (from a Clifford Odets play) is about many towns, many families. Serene on the surface. Roiling with desperation underneath.

Special Features

  • Theatrical trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Ryan, Paul Douglas, Marilyn Monroe, J. Carrol Naish
  • Directors: Fritz Lang
  • Writers: Alfred Hayes, Clifford Odets
  • Producers: Harriet Parsons, Jerry Wald, Norman Krasna
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Turner Home Ent
  • DVD Release Date: July 5, 2005
  • Run Time: 105 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00097DY02
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,646 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Clash by Night" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
This review is for the 2005 Warner Brothers DVD.

The storyline revolves around Mae Doyle (Barbara Stanwick) who returns to a Northern California fishing community after a ten-year hiatus. She left that town hoping to find a wealthy or prestigious man to marry, but her dreams never materialized. Upon returning she runs into an old acquaintance, Jerry D'Amato (Paul Douglas), at a bar and they later start dating even though they have very little in common. Jerry is hardworking and stable, yet a boring simpleton. Mae is fickle and shallow. Jerry introduces Mae to his best friend Earl (Robert Ryan) who is cantankerous yet very extroverted - pretty much the exact opposite of Jerry. From this point on in the movie, the human dynamics these three people go all over the map and develop into an enthralling plot for the viewer.

I was initially taken off guard with the way the film ended, but I couldn't get it out of my head for the rest of the day and realized it took a very brave direction with the issues it confronted. Furthermore, the movie is probably more representative of today's social landscape than it was when the film was made and has some hard-hitting commentary for the consequences of people's actions. There is however, one scene that is clearly politically incorrect by today's standards where Earl imitates a Chinese person. The movie also contained some refreshing scenes of a young Marilyn Monroe who plays the girlfriend of Mae's brother. Overall I give the film a solid recommendation for viewing.

The DVD is remastered but not restored and as a result, the black and white transfer is sharp but occasionally tiny spots of film deterioration can be observed. The sound is fine.
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Format: DVD
Director Fritz Lang opens "Clash by Night" with a violent crashing of waves that sets the audience on edge and foreshadows the inner turbulence of the film's protagonist, Mae Doyle. This is followed by an extended documentary sequence that was filmed on location in Monterey, California, illustrating the daily routine in the fishing town. Boats come in with their catch; their crews unload the fish; and the cannery processes them. It's a memorable sequence, and I was surprised to find it in this relationship drama. Mae Doyle (Barbara Stanwyck) has returned to town after a 10-year absence that left her disillusioned with life, love and the plans she had. Her brother Joe (Keith Anders) works on a fishing boat owned by Jerry D'Amato (Paul Douglas), a cheerful, simple-minded man who is smitten with Mae. Joe's good friend Earl Pfeiffer (Robert Ryan) couldn't be more different. He's misogynistic, lecherous, and deeply needy. Mae is attracted and repulsed by the cynicism that she sees in Earl and shares with him. She'd like a man like Jerry to take care of her, but knows she could never be satisfied with that.

"Clash by Night" is based on the play by Clifford Odets, and it's fun to try to pick out the lines that sound like Odets by their affectedness. Usually the actors deliver the lines casually, so they don't sound too histrionic. I found that the film's strength is its documentary-like qualities, which don't end after the introductory sequence. The vignettes of working class life and conversations about family matters lend the film an authenticity that it really needs considering that Barbara Stanwyck' s glamour and forcefulness seem as out of place in that town as her character professes to feel.
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Format: VHS Tape
Interesting "little" 1950's film noir, with always terrific Stanwyck as the worn out bad girl who returns home, to what's left of her family, because she has nowhere else to go. Clifford Odets written morality tale, with as much dark, suggested sexual undercurrent as the early 1950's would allow. Set in the atmospheric California fishing coast, ala "Cannery Row". Especially interesting as early Marilyn Monroe vehicle. She is charasmatic and convincing as the simple and naieve but not stupid Peg, who is to marry Stanwycks characters brother, played by Keith Andes.Her innocent Peg is a perfect contrast to Stanwycks world-weary character. I always find Marilyns pre-star roles very interesting. Hind sight is 20/20, but to see her obvious talent and screen prescence, before she was an icon, it's easy to see that she was something special. She gives an excellant acting performance in this film, in which she was up against big-leaguers and old pros. This is the film M.M. was shooting when the news broke that she had posed for the then very scandalous nude calendar. Apparently the stars of this movie were getting irritated at all the focus on this little blonde girl, with one commenting "That blonde... is getting all the publicity!". Sometimes the "smaller" films can be more interesting than the big studio hits, and I consider this one of those. A moody, sensual movie, in the classic tradition of all those great black & white films of the 1940's & early '50's. Definatley worth a look.
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Format: DVD
Most reviewers of this film seem to have 'gotten it' with respect to the film's undeniable stance in both Robert Ryan and Fritz Lang's careers. Both celebrities enjoy considerable cult status, and they united for the film, which, along with Barbara Stanwyck's jaded portrait of a fallen woman, achieved a cinema realism that was rare in those days. The film was another example of RKO's attempts to bring outstanding films to the screen. One would be hard pressed to find another studio that so consistently sought artistic merit, dissimilar from studios like Warner Brothers, which catered more to mass interest.

The love triangle involving Ryan, Stanwyck and Paul Douglas, seems entirely plausible then and now. It is amazing to see that the sexual attraction between Ryan and Stanwyck was conveyed without the de rigueur explicit romp in the hay that predominates any film made in the last thirty years. If the viewer wants to see some real sexual tension without the overtness viewers are subjected to these days to get them to watch what's out there, simply watch the scene in which Ryan and Stanwyck engage in a short but heated embrace. One doesn't need to see anything more than Stanwyck's hand clutching Ryan's bare back underneath his T-shirt to envision what happens next.

The addition of secondary players, Marilyn Monroe and Keith Andes, likewise didn't need to achieve its sexual effect in the blatant manner employed in films these days. J. Carrol Naish's devilish Uncle Vince was also a tour de force for this wonderful character actor, and Silvio Minciotti effectively portrayed Paul Douglas's lonely widowed father.

Add to these dynamics a wonderful screenplay, sharply written and without a maudlin word to it.
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