Barbara Stanwyck in Illicit (1931)

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Barbara Stanwyck in Illicit (1931)

Postby dfordoom » Wed May 16, 2007 12:30 pm

Illicit, in 1931, gave Barbara Stanwyck her first starring role. She plays a young woman, Anne Vincent, who doesn’t want to marry her boyfriend. She wants to keep living in sin, because that’s what they’ve been doing and she’s been thoroughly enjoying it, and because she believes marriage kills romance, and also because she doesn’t want to become a man’s property. As events unfold, and she finds herself pressured into marriage, it becomes obvious that most of her fears were justified. This is very much the kind of movie that the tightening up of the Hollywood Production Code in 1934 was intended to stop, with its guilt-free attitude towards sex and its very independent heroine. Stanwyck is delightful – funny and feisty and sweet and likeable at the same time. James Rennie is OK as her boyfriend, who turns out to be rather conventional. Ricardo Cortez is suave and slightly sinister as one of Anne’s ex-boyfriends who is still intermittently pursuing her. Joan Blondell, as so often, plays the heroine’s best friends and, as always, she lights the screen. Charles Butterworth plays an amusing perpetually drunken friend, the kind of role that is often annoying in these early sound pictures but Butterworth is quite wonderful, with a superb very dry wit and an air of dazed benevolence. Illicit is always entertaining and provides a nice mix of humour and romance. It’s also nice to see a movie which doesn’t make judgments on any of its characters. Even the “other woman” isn’t demonised. Recommended. And if you’re a fan of Barbara Stanwyck (and what right-thinking person isn’t) I recommend it even more highly.
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Postby MissGoddess » Wed May 16, 2007 2:20 pm

I keep missing this movie every time it airs on TCM, which isn't often enough. I really am eager to see it and it sounds like from your description of her character, Barbara had her persona established right from the start. Was this movie later recycled for Bette Davis as Ex-Lady?
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It should have been called LICIT . . .

Postby CoffeeDan » Wed May 16, 2007 4:17 pm

ILLICIT promised much more than it delivered, weighed down by a too-talky script. As I watched Barbara Stanwyck and James Rennie slog through their scenes, I kept wondering when Charles Butterworth and Joan Blondell would return -- a bad sign. (I did like Charlie's scene with the baby buggy, though.)

I much prefer the 1933 remake EX-LADY, with Bette Davis and Gene Raymond.
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Postby dfordoom » Wed May 16, 2007 6:21 pm

I'm sure I have EX-LADY somewhere. I distinctly remember recording it.
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