Clash by Night (1952)
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I like the contrast between Barbara Stanwyck and Marilyn Munroe in Clash by Night, and it's all about the women, this one, as the men do not deserve them in the least, but I guess prospects are poor in this small fishing town. Stanwyck is disappointed and bitter, and she marries out of convenience more than anything. Though she wants to be swept off her feet and, I'll say it, dominated, she ends up with a fairly timid husband, at least until he finds out about her inevitable affair and blows up. Meanwhile, Munroe plays a more naive, younger woman in a toxic relationship with a violent a-hole, but somehow comes off as more liberated, giving as good as she gets. In the world of the film (and the play it adapts), this might be construed as a good match. All in all, it makes for a gritty relationship drama, but it's still an artifact of its time, where women are more or less happy to be dominated and family is a value that triumphs over others. For all its texture and psychology, its subordination to '50s values means it ends rather abruptly, as if watching any more would put the lie to the resolution. Stanwyck's character can never be happy and it's a pipe dream that choosing EITHER man will lead to that. We turn away before we have to learn that essential truth. Pretty great dialog, and the acting is of course impeccable.
Ordinary material is greatly elevated by superb performances and typically skillful direction by Lang.
This movie reminds me of Tennessee Williams' screenplays. Clifford Odets is indeed considered to be one of the best writers.
I don't think this is a noir but it's good nonetheless. It's amazing to see the dynamics between Stanwyck and Monroe.
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In 3 official lists
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This movie ranks #80 in TSPDT's 100 Essential Noir Films
This movie ranks #80 in TSPDT's 1,000 Noir Films
This movie ranks #329 in Jonathan Rosenbaum's Essential Cinema