You can cut the melodrama with a knife in this compelling but occasionally overblown drama directed by Fritz Lang and based on the play by Clifford Odets. Supported with the usual fine direction by Lang, Clash by Night is also the beneficiary of a remarkable performance by star Barbara Stanwyck, who delivers her biting, caustic dialogue with perfection. "What do you want, Joe, my life's history," she snaps miserably. "Here it is in four words: big ideas, small results." Alternating between bitterness and tenderness, Stanwyck delivers a character who could have been a disaster in the hands of a lesser actress. Paul Douglas, looking, sounding, and acting a lot like Lon Chaney Jr., provides a solid characterization of the simpleton who falls for Stanwyck, and Robert Ryan infuses his lecherous Earl with the requisite nasty disposition. Lang may have had trouble handling Marilyn Monroe, but the blonde bombshell is a pleasant, lighthearted addition in a supporting role. The script by Alfred Hayes is excellent, and feeds Stanwyck and Ryan with plenty of ripe dialogue, while building the story up to the inevitable "clash" foretold in the title. As a footnote in the politically incorrect department, Ryan does an atrocious Chinese impression.