Overlooked Noir: ‘Clash By Night’

Publicity shot for 'Clash by Night', with Keith Andes
Publicity shot for ‘Clash by Night’, with Keith Andes

One of my favourite early MM films, Clash By Night (1952), is included in a list of 30 Overlooked Noir Films That Are Worth Watching, compiled by Arnab Sen over at Taste of Cinema.

“Another case where the film is essentially two films linked with one another, Clash by Night tells the story of Mae Doyle (Barbara Stanwyck) who returns home after ten years to move back into her family’s home where her brother and his wife are living. Mae then starts dating the very likeable Jerry (Paul Douglas). But, Jerry’s friend Earl Pfeiffer (Robert Ryan), a man who is equally unlikable, starts to take an interest in her.

Barbara Stanwyck plays a woman with a mysterious past who spent ten years ‘back East.’ Robert Ryan once again is typecast, this time not as a villain, but as an obsessive, violent and unsettled man who is fascinated by Mae. Paul Douglas plays Jerry, a happy go lucky sort of person who cannot handle confrontation. The film is also notable for starring Marilyn Monroe, who plays Mae’s sister-in-law in a supporting role.

In spite of the film having a typical noir plot, it’s a very uncharacteristic melodramatic film noir by Lang and probably the most uncharacteristic noir in the list. It is also not set in some big, dangerous American city but rather in the fishing village of Monterey, California. Directed by Fritz Lang after his underrated western Rancho Notorious, the film was based on the play Clash by Night by Clifford Odets.”

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