AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Clash by Night
Director: Fritz Lang (Dir)
Release Date:   Jun 1952
Premiere Information:   Los Angeles opening: 16 Jun 1952; New York opening: 18 Jun 1952
Production Date:   8 Oct--early Dec 1951; addl scenes late Jan 1952
Duration (in mins):   104-105
Duration (in feet):   9,432
Duration (in reels):   11
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Cast:   Barbara Stanwyck (Mae Doyle D'Amato)  
    Paul Douglas (Jerry D'Amato)  
    Robert Ryan [1909-1973] (Earl Pfeiffer)  
    Marilyn Monroe (Peggy)  
    J. Carrol Naish (Uncle Vince)  
    Silvio Minciotti (Papa D'Amato)  
  And introducing Keith Andes (Joe Doyle)  
    Diane Stewart (Gloria D'Amato)  
    Deborah Stewart (Gloria D'Amato)  
    Nancy Duke (Guest)  
    Sally Yarnell (Guest)  
    Irene Crosby (Guest)  
    Helen Hansen (Guest)  
    Dan Bernaducci (Guest)  
    Dick Coe (Guest)  
    Al Cavens (Guest)  
    Julius Tannen (Sad-eyed waiter)  
    Bert Stevens (Bartender)  
    Mario Siletti (Bartender)  
    William Bailey (Waiter)  
    Bill Slack (Customer)  
    Art Dupuis (Customer)  
    Frank Kreig (Art)  
    Tony Dante (Fisherman at pier)  
    Roy D'Armour    
    Gilbert Frye    

Summary: In a seaside Monterey bar, burly fisherman Jerry D'Amato becomes excited when he bumps into Mae Doyle, a girl from his youth who has just returned home. The sophisticated but unhappy Mae fails to recognize Jerry and goes off to find her younger brother Joe. Joe, who helps Jerry on his boat, is less than pleased by Mae's arrival, even though he has not seen her in ten years. When she admits that she made a mistake by becoming involved with an older man who turned out to be married, however, Joe's attitude softens a little. Joe's girl friend Peggy, who works at the local sardine cannery, is awestruck by the worldly Mae and confides that, like Mae before her, she yearns for excitement and does not want to be bossed around by a man. Later, at the fishing docks, the kind but awkward Jerry asks Joe about Mae's availability, and Joe encourages Jerry to invite her out. During their first date at the local movie theater, Jerry introduces Mae to his best friend, projectionist Earl Pfeiffer. Mae is attracted to the cynical Earl, but dismisses him sharply when he subjects her to a misogynistic tirade about his burlesque dancer wife. Sometime later, while on a night boat ride with Mae, Jerry brings up the subject of marriage, but Mae gently maintains that she is not the "wife type." However, after a disturbing, drunken flirtation with Earl, Mae, who has told Earl that she desires men who make her feel confident and alive, agrees to marry Jerry. At the wedding reception, Earl insists on kissing Mae, and when she resists his ardor, he storms off. Later, after the birth of Jerry and Mae's daughter Gloria, Jerry's freeloading uncle Vince complains that Mae is too controlling and accuses Jerry of being henpecked. That night, the now-divorced Earl shows up at the D'Amatos', drunk, and rants about women and marriage until he passes out in their living room. The next morning, before Jerry leaves for work, Mae surprises him by asking for a goodbye kiss. A hung-over Earl then wakes up and questions Mae about the health of her marriage. Sensing that she has resigned herself to a dull life with Jerry, Earl kisses her forcibly. Mae rebuffs him, but later, after a joyful Peggy comes by the D'Amatos' to announce her engagement to Joe, Earl again kisses Mae, who finally gives in to her passions. Sometime later, Jerry rescues his father from a barroom fight but cannot get the old man to discuss the argument. The vindictive Vince, however, informs Jerry that the town has been gossiping about Mae and Earl and that his father was defending the family name. Angry and indignant, Jerry drives Vince out of his house, then tries to force his father to talk. When Papa again refuses, Jerry searches Mae's things and finds some perfume and lingerie at the bottom of a drawer. As soon as Mae and Earl return to the house, having spent the day together, Jerry confronts them with the items. Mae finally confesses that she is having an affair with Earl but maintains that she was driven to it through boredom and loneliness. Deeply wounded, Jerry calls Mae and Earl "animals" and runs off. Earl advises Mae to leave town with him, but she is reluctant to go until she knows that Jerry is safe. Later, Mae finds Jerry at home and tells him that she is in love with Earl and is running away with him. Jerry tries to change Mae's mind, then screams threats when she reveals that she intends to take Gloria. Terrified of Jerry's wrath, Mae leaves the house without Gloria and goes to Joe's place to pack. While Joe condemns his sister's actions, Peggy offers her sympathy. Still enraged, Jerry, meanwhile, shows up at the movie theater and starts to choke Earl. Mae arrives in time to stop Jerry, who throws her across the room before coming to his senses. Soon after, Mae and Earl return to Jerry's to pick up Gloria, but discover the baby gone. When Papa condemns Mae and refuses to reveal where Jerry took Gloria, Mae starts to have second thoughts about leaving. Unconcerned, Earl insists that they can go without Gloria, prompting Mae to realize that she has spent her entire marriage running away from her responsibilities. Disgusted by Mae's expressions of guilt, Earl announces that he is departing, with or without her. In response, Mae declares that she is taking her chances with her husband and heads for Jerry's boat. There, Mae asks Jerry to forgive her and insists that she has changed. While admitting that he may never be able to trust her, Jerry accepts Mae's apologies and agrees to try again. Jerry then tells Mae that Gloria is asleep on the bunk, and she quietly goes to her baby. 

Production Company: Wald-Krasna Productions, Inc.  
  RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.  
Distribution Company: RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.  
Director: Fritz Lang (Dir)
  Edward Donahoe (Asst dir)
Producer: Jerry Wald (Pres)
  Norman Krasna (Pres)
  Harriet Parsons (Prod)
Writer: Alfred Hayes (Scr)
  David Dortort (Contr to trmt)
Photography: Nicholas Musuraca (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Albert S. D'Agostino (Art dir)
  Carroll Clark (Art dir)
Film Editor: George Amy (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Darrell Silvera (Set dec)
  Jack Mills (Set dec)
Costumes: Michael Woulfe (Ward)
Music: Roy Webb (Mus)
  C. Bakaleinikoff (Mus dir)
Sound: Jean L. Speak (Sd)
  Clem Portman (Sd)
Special Effects: Harold Wellman (Spec eff)
Make Up: Mel Berns (Makeup artist)
  Larry Germain (Hairstylist)
Production Misc: Norman Cook (Prod mgr)
  Lou Shapiro (Loc mgr)
Country: United States
Language: English

Songs: "I Hear a Rhapsody," words and music by Dick Gasparre, Jack Baker and George Fragos, sung by Tony Martin.
Composer: Jack Baker
  George Fragos
  Dick Gasparre
Source Text: Based on the play Clash by Night by Clifford Odets, as produced by Billy Rose (New York, 29 Dec 1941).
Authors: Billy Rose
  Clifford Odets

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Wald-Krasna Productions, Inc. 28/5/1952 dd/mm/yyyy LP1766

PCA NO: 15599
Physical Properties: Sd: RCA Sound System

Genre: Drama
Subjects (Major): Disillusionment
Subjects (Minor): Bars
  Brothers and sisters
  Factory workers
  Fathers and sons
  Italian Americans
  Motion picture projectionists
  Motion picture theaters

Note: Many aspects of the story were changed for the screen version of Clifford Odets' play, which starred Tallulah Bankhead and Lee J. Cobb on Broadway. In the play, the action takes place in Depression-ravaged Staten Island, NY, and the characters are Polish American. At the end of the play, the cuckolded husband kills his wife's lover. Robert Ryan, who plays "Earl Pfeiffer" in the film, appeared in the Broadway production as "Joe Doyle."
       In Dec 1950, HR announced that RKO was borrowing Joan Crawford from Warner Bros. for the production. According to modern sources, Jeff Chandler and Mala Powers were first considered for the roles of "Earl" and "Peggy." Modern sources note that director Fritz Lang spent one week rehearsing the three main actors before principal photography. Although Keith Andes' onscreen credit includes the statement "and introducing," he had previously appeared in the 1947 RKO film The Farmer's Daughter and the 1949 Film Classics' release Project X (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 ). RKO borrowed Marilyn Monroe from Twentieth Century-Fox for the production. Although not her first "above-title" film, Clash by Night was Monroe's first significant dramatic role and garnered her much praise. The HR reviewer commented, "Marilyn Monroe proves she deserves starring status with her excellent interpretation," while the DV reviewer noted that, "Miss Monroe...has an ease of delivery which makes her a cinch for popularity, given the right roles."
       According to HR news items, background footage and exterior scenes were shot in Monterey, CA. The film opens with a series of shots depicting life in and around the Monterey shore. In a modern interview, Lang described how he and cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca spent several days photographing Monterey's marine life, fishing boats and sardine canneries to create the documentary-like opening. Lang also shot footage of the annual Blessing of the Fleet ceremonies in San Pedro, CA, but that scene was not included in the final film. A Jun 1952 DV item stated that William H. Mooring, film critic for the Los Angeles Catholic newspaper The Tidings , prevailed upon producers Jerry Wald and Harriet Parsons to delete two scenes from the script. Both scenes, which Mooring felt ridiculed religion and belittled the Church, had to do with the Blessing of the Fleet ceremony.
       Barbara Stanwyck won the Motion Picture Exhibitor's "Laurel" award for her performance in the picture. After the film's release, the song "I Hear a Rhapsody" became a hit for Tony Martin. Modern sources add Bob Ewing ( Makeup artist ), Tony Lombardo ( Prop master ) and Marjorie Plecher ( Supv of Monroe's ward ) to the crew. On 13 Jun 1957, the CBS television network broadcast an adaptation of Odets' play on its Playhouse 90 program. John Frankenheimer directed Kim Stanley, E. G. Marshall and Lloyd Bridges in the production. The BBC network broadcast another version on 14 Jul 1959, starring Sam Wanamaker and Patricia Neal. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   24 May 1952.   
Daily Variety   14 May 52   p. 3.
Daily Variety   3 Jun 1952.   
Film Daily   16 May 52   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   27 Dec 50   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   22 Jun 51   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   16 Aug 51   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   31 Aug 51   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   5 Oct 51   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   8 Oct 51   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   7 Dec 51   p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter   10 Dec 51   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   21 Jan 52   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   14 May 52   p. 3.
Look   3 Jun 52   pp. 106-08.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   17 May 52   p. 1366.
New York Times   18 Jun 52   p. 31.
New York Times   19 Jun 52   p. 32.
New Yorker   28 Jun 1952.   
Newsweek   2 Jun 1952.   
Time   9 Jun 1952.   
Variety   14 May 52   p. 6.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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