A Stanwyck field day, in the kind of role she could do with her eyes closed, but because it's well-directed by Fritz Lang, the actress can let go with the snarls, venom, and wounded savagery we've come to expect and love. CLASH is a California cousin of Williams's STREETCAR but Stanwyck's Mae is tougher than Blanche; she's returned home a fallen woman to lick her big-city wounds, and Stanwyck gives it the commonness that Tallulah Bankhead had been too elegant for on Broadway. The story is essentially an Odets kitchen-sink triangle, with dangerous Ryan as resident trouble--he's terrific--and Douglas as the cuckholded spouse. The latter is the weak part of the triangle, but it still works.
In her first major role, Monroe gives a surprising turn as a young woman who, for the most part, is refreshingly independent. This is the lovely Monroe without the candy floss accoutrements; one watches CLASH sensing her career might have gone in a totally different direction had Fox marketed her in an adult manner. The steam she generates with the muscular Andes when Stanwyck and Ryan aren't clawing at each other's clothes makes CLASH BY NIGHT eminently watchable. And fun besides.