Clash by Night ★★★★

Intense, somewhat talky melodrama by the great Fritz Lang. "Clash By Night" was a stage play from the early 1940s by Clifford Odets. The original was set on Staten Island; here it is relocated to the fishing village of Monterey, California. I primarily watched this for the cast (Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Ryan, Marilyn Monroe). It didn't disappoint.

The story's about a woman (Stanwyck) returning to her working class seaside hometown after a 10-year affair with a married politician. Embittered and hardened, she winds up marrying a nice but naive boat captain (Paul Douglas) for security rather than love. But she quickly grows bored and has an affair with an equally-hardened local man (Ryan), who's a friend of Douglas. The script shows its stage roots, especially around the dialogue, but the actors are so good they carry it off. These are the type of roles both Stanwyck and Ryan excelled at. Paul Douglas is less effective, although there's some great character acting by veteran J. Carrol Naish. A subplot involves Stanwyck's brother (played by the hunky Keith Andes, surprisingly good) and his girlfriend (Monroe - always a pleasure to watch).

Well-directed and photographed, it nonetheless has a unsatisfactory and abrupt ending, apparently changed from the stage play to satisfy the censors. Some final interesting tidbits: The stage production starred Tallulah Bankhead, and Robert Ryan (here the lover) played the younger brother in the original Broadway play.

I watched this on the Watch TCM app.