Saturday, January 21, 2012

Clash by Night (1952)

It's hard to say, "I do," to marriage after watching this film.

Intimidation, separation, infidelity, squabbles, regret and unwanted children are the highpoints of tying the knot in director Fritz Lang's 1952 effort.


Mae Doyle (Barbara Stanwyck) returns to a fishing town after a 10-year absence. Her brother, Joe (Keith Andes), wonders what happened to her grand plans of marrying a rich fella.

"Big ideas, small results," she replies.

There's a suggestion she had an affair and things with the man's family turned ugly when he died and his estate was divvied up. Mae didn't land much of a cash send-off.

"Home is where you come when you're out of places," she says.

Jerry D'Amato (Paul Douglas, Panic in the Streets (Fox Film Noir)) remembers Mae. The single skipper of a fishing boat appears to have kept a torch burning for her return. He starts to call on her and falls fast.


Mae's upfront with the nice, but dim, Jerry. She warns him her kind of woman is not a great catch. Pain is sure to result if they become an item.

"Don't be so eager to make a mistake," Mae warns him in one of many sharp lines of dialogue in this 105-minute release.

Jerry doesn't take the bait and keeps fishing. They marry. All is well for the first year of marriage. Randy Earl Pfeiffer (Robert Ryan), now divorced from his burlesque dancing wife, tried to entice Mae before she married. He seduces her again -- and nabs the woman he loves.

Jerry doesn't think anything of his buddy, Earl, spending time with Mae. It's his conniving Uncle Vince (J. Carrol Naish) who finally reels in the truth for Jerry to see.

There's a suggestion early in the film that Jerry is a nice guy, but can do some damage with his fists if he wanted.

With Uncle Vince pumping him up, Jerry flips and wants blood.

The ending seems a bit of a tall tale given what's happened before. Decide for yourself.

Clash by Night marks another role for Marilyn Monroe before she hit the big time in the early 1950s.

Here, she's Peggy, Joe's girlfriend. Peggy is feisty and takes a shine to Mae's independent ways. But, she's repeatedly intimidated, or threatened with violence, if she doesn't follow Joe's wishes.

Clash by Night earns its aggressive title. There ain't a whole lot of happiness here.

RATING: 7/10

FUN FACTS: Keith Andes appeared in The Apple, an original Star Trek episode, in 1967.

Pop singer Tony Martin performs I Hear a Rhapsody. According to Internet Movie Database, Martin is still alive. He turns 100 in 2012. Happy birthday, Tony!

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