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W.S. Van Dyke
On a cruise to Cuba, Lulu Smith falls in love with Bob Grover. Back home, she breaks off the romance when he tells her he is married. Lulu has a baby, but doesn't tell Bob, who turns out to be a rising politician. She passes herself off as the baby's nanny. When Bob learns what is going on, he adopts the little girl, not telling his wife or anyone else where she came from. Lulu gets a job at a newspaper. Things get complicated when the editor gets the dirt on Grover, but also wants to marry Lulu. Written by
John Oswalt <email@example.com>
The Production Code Administration (PCA) refused Columbia's request for approval in 1935 for re-release, citing the adultery, which was a code violation. The production code was strictly enforced starting in mid-1934. See more »
The film begins in the present day, i.e. 1932. There is no attempt at period decor in any way; the automobiles, music, and clothing styles are all contemporary; twenty or thirty years pass by. The principals live out their lives, grow old, and die. Yet their surrounding environment never changes; it is still 1932. See more »
Stanwyck Finds Love - and a Married Man - on a Cruise
FORBIDDEN is a passable soap opera from 1932 notable for it's pre-code bluntness about adultery and illegitimacy (the movie was not allowed to be reissued just three years later after the formation of the Hays code.) Barbara Stanwyck stars as a twenty-something young matron well on her way to spinsterhood in her dead end job as a small town librarian. After almost a decade on the job she has had Enough and closes out her savings account of its $1,200 and invests the works in glamorizing herself and a ticket to a Havana cruise. Though now chic and fashionable, her inner librarian is unable to break through and meet any men on the ship until her accidental meeting with a fairly soused Adolphe Menjou.
Stanwyck and Menjou become inseparable and soon blossom into a full-fledged affair that continues back in the states (apparently Stanwyck has moved to the city). Halloween night finds the couple with their own trick or treat - Stanwyck learns Menjou is married just as she was planning to let him know she is with child.
This soap was directed by Frank Capra who occasionally goes on board on directorial "touches" like shooting scenes with faces hidden or from unusual angles but his direction is generally admirable. Stanwyck is terrific as always and what a surprise to see Adolphe Menjou is a romantic lead. Though only 40 at the time, he always seemed older than his years and was seldom cast in romantic male leads during the talkie era. Ralph Bellamy is the third wheel as per usual but this time around he is a surprisingly unpleasant and creepy one as the coarse newspaper man who aims to bring politician Menjou down - unaware they both are interested in Barbara.
I'm surprised no one has mentioned the obvious parallels between this story and the far more famous Bette Davis picture NOW VOYAGER made a decade later - a homely woman transforms herself into a beauty and goes on a cruise ship to find love only to have her beau be a married man. The "church mouse" side of Stanwyck's character is abandoned early in the story but it might have explained why she held on for decades for just a part of a man's love. (This film is one of those which while only spanning twenty years has the characters looking ready for the old age home when they would only be in their late forties.)
Viewers might be aghast at Menjou's description of his wife as an "invalid" - Dorothy Peterson gets around mighty fine, if with the help of a cane but presumably this is a discreet illusion to the fact that their relationship is no longer physical given her condition after the car wreck. Also watch for an early scene showing the meanness of Bellamy's character as he hits an office boy's head with an apple core
the kid has to force a smile since it's his boss but when turned away
he clearly mouths "son of a bitch" about Bellamy.
FORBIDDEN is not one of Stanwyck's better movies but it's entertaining and has several potent scenes from the excellent character setup of an young old maid on the way to work to the timid girl dining alone on a cruise ship to her final solution for ending Bellamy's hounding of Menjou and as such is definitely worth a look.
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