CLASH BY NIGHT —–hard-breathing 1952 triangle melodrama is dated but tolerable thanks to its cast. Morally dubious drifter Barbara Stanwyck ends up back in her home burg and in due course is courted by well-meaning hulk Paul Douglas. Erstwhile pal, a cynical Robert Ryan, has a go at Babs, and a bad time is had by all. Co-star Marilyn Monroe shows off her figure at the beach and J. Carrol Naish offers the best characterization as Douglas’ uncle.
Directed by Fritz Lang, from a Clifford Odets play. MMs famous calendar pictures, done several years earlier, came out during filming, which added some spark to the publicity. Good dialogue as insults are sparred, but it’s a dullish production visually. 105 minutes long, it came in 70th for the money earners of the year. With Silvio Minciotti and Keith Andes. *
* In his biography of Robert Ryan, J.R.Jones notes Monroe’s chronic tardiness and unpreparedness and her reliance on her acting coach/shadow Natasha Lytess earned the scorn of director Lang and, quoting Stanwyck “drove Bob Ryan, Paul Douglas and myself out of our minds…but she didn’t do it viciously, and there was a sort of magic about her we all recognized at once.” Co-star Keith Andes said Babs grew so frustrated with MM “who would always come in late and all fucked up. Stanwyck finally said ‘Look, unless she’s working, keep her off the set. I don’t want her around.’ After all, Barbara was a good-humored woman but she was also a professional.”