Sunday, February 9, 2014

Clash by Night (1952)

Director: Fritz Lang

Writers: Alfred Hayes, Clifford Odets

Composer: Roy Webb

Starring: Barbara Stanwyck, Paul Douglas, Robert Ryan, Marilyn Monroe, J. Carrol Naish, Silvio Minciotti, Keith Andes

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Livin' in my house! Lovin' another man! Is that what you call bein' honest? That's just givin' it a nice name!

Plot: The bitter and cynical Mae Doyle returns to the fishing village where she was raised after deceptive loves and life in New York. She meets her brother, the fisherman Joe Doyle, and he lodges her in his home. Mae is courted by Jerry D'Amato, a good and naive man that owns the boat where Joe works, and he introduces his brutal friend Earl Pfeiffer, who works as theater's projectionist and is cheated by his wife. She does not like Earl and his jokes, but Jerry considers him his friend and they frequently see each other. Mae decides to accept the proposal of Jerry and they get married and one year later they have a baby girl. When the wife of Earl leaves him, he becomes depressed and Mae, who is bored with her loveless marriage, has an affair with him.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Barbara Stanwyck knows how to play a bad news dame and Robert Ryan all too well knew how to treat 'em.  Their performances are what you'd expect from these two seasoned actors that are comfortable in film noir roles.  The big surprise for me was Paul Douglas as the hard working, hapless husband, Jerry.  He's terrific.  It's neat seeing Monroe in an early role.  She's scrummy.  And the rest of the cast does a fine job, too.  The story is pretty tame when you think about film noir pictures.  I'm not entirely convinced this is one despite everyone else saying the contrary.  I suppose if you take into account Stanwyck is a cheating spouse and Ryan is the hard boiled man who can put her in her place if she gets out of line, then there are some elements of noir but not completely.  There's no crime and this isn't a thriller but it's still a fine film helmed by the great Fritz Lang.  The ending surprised me, too.  I kept waiting for Stanwyck...well, I won't spoil it.  It's worth watching for the performances of some Hollywood greats but it's not compelling enough for me to give it another shot.

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