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Clash By Night
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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.
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Fritz Lang directed this drama set in a West Coast fishing village. After some years away, Mae Doyle (Stanwyck) unhappily returns home. In desperation and boredom, she marries boat operator Jerry D'Amato (Douglas), a good-natured simple bear of a man. Feeling stifled by domesticity, Mae gets involved in a torrid affair with Earl Pfeiffer (Ryan). When Jerry finds he's been betrayed, it tears their marriage apart. Mae must decide if she wants an uncertain future with the passionate Earl or the stability of life with Jerry and their baby girl.
Parenthetical number preceding title is a 1 to 10 IMDb viewer poll rating.
(7.1) Clash By Night (1952) - Barbara Stanwyck/Paul Douglas/Robert Ryan/Marilyn Monroe/J. Carrol Naish/Keith Andes/Silvio Minciotti
Set in the time it was made, in the fishing village of Monterrey, California, we are given a glimpse of the rough-and-tumble everyday lives of blue-collar workers. It's kind of depressing, like Pensacola, Florida. Poor people fight loudly and don't have a lot of class, like Robert Ryan with his Asian impersonation (which even I, who enjoy an ethnic joke every now and then, who doesn't?, thought was offensive). But then, that was totally in character of him to do so, being the ne'er-do-well drifter he was. The only reason Stanwyck slept with him was out of boredom and he was probably good in the sack, too (she had slept with a politician, after all); Paul Douglas, though sweet, was probably too gentle for her. She liked 'em rough and dangerous.
The imagery in this was stunning (some would say including Marilyn Monroe, but I never thought she was that good-looking--give me Jean Simmons anyday). I used to think Marilyn couldn't act, but it was obvious once she became famous, they put her in garbage like "Gentleman Prefer Blondes" and the like, but her performance in "Niagara" and "Don't Bother to Knock", the latter, although not one of my favorite films, was one of her best performances because she was essentially playing herself.
Anyway, back to my review. The moral of the story is that just because we say we're this or that, warning people that this is the way we are, you'll just have to take me as I am, isn't a license to hurt people, because Mae still chose to marry Jerry and make a baby with him and whether she likes it or not, Gloria (the baby) is her responsibility now and she owes it to Jerry to try to work things out. She wouldn't be happy with Earl and she knows it, because even though she may think she loves him, he was just convenient, just as she was for him. I think he just liked sticking it to Jerry, who he had no respect for because he saw him as weak. He preyed upon Mae's dissatisfaction with her oppressive life.
Keith Andes (who is a dead ringer for Skip Homeier, who appeared in a few "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" episodes) played her boorish, and probably physically abusive brother, who marries Marilyn, finishes off this great cast. This film is in my top twenty-five of the greatest movies ever, I cannot recommend it enough. It draws you in and holds you there, and makes you think about it long after the credits have rolled. Wonderful, wonderful film.
Nothing really deep here. Just get into your jammies, open a box of bonbons, and
settle back happily to see Stanwyck, Douglas, Ryan and Monroe do their stuff.