Illicit, with Barbara Stanwyck, is easily a Pre-Code film! Stanwyck stars as Anne Vincent, a young woman in love with Dick Ives (James Rennie). Dick and Anne aren't married, but are openly living together. Dick has proposed multiple times, but Anne resists, seeing marriage as the death of love. Finally, Dick's father convinces her that marriage is the only way to avoid scandal. But, Anne soon finds that she and Dick are taking one another for granted, and though she still loves him, she is furious when she finds he has been out with his old girlfriend. And things begin to unravel from there.
It's rather shocking, really, to think of a couple in 1931 living together, and discussing a long-term relationship without a wedding ring. Sure, they do get married, but Anne is convinced for much of the movie that it is marriage that has destroyed her relationship with Dick. Stanwyck is just terrific here, both vulnerable and tough. An interesting casting note is Charlie Butterworth as Dick's gossipy friend Georgie. A drunk and a ne'er-do-well, Georgie is really one of the major reasons the marriage become troubled.
It's also good to see Ricardo Cortez (as Price Baines, Anne's old flame). Ricardo is such a slimy bad guy. It's a pleasure to watch him work to break up the marriage (and oh, yes, he certainly does try).
If you would like to have a taste of this delicious movie, try this clip:
Next time, another Francis Pre-Code gem.