19 user 8 critic

Illicit (1931)

A young couple lives together out of wedlock, but they find that they're ahead of their time.


Archie Mayo


Edith Fitzgerald (by), Robert Riskin (by) | 1 more credit »


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Complete credited cast:
Barbara Stanwyck ... Anne Vincent
James Rennie ... 'Dick' Ives II
Ricardo Cortez ... Price Baines
Natalie Moorhead ... Margie True
Charles Butterworth ... Georgie Evans
Joan Blondell ... Helen 'Duckie' Childers
Claude Gillingwater ... Ives Sr.


Ann, a young lady of scandalously "advanced" ideas, has been living in near-sin with blueblood lover Dick, due to her conviction that marriage will destroy their love. Finally, social pressure forces them to marry; in due course, it looks as if Ann was right. Her solution: to separate and return to dating. Can this marriage be saved? Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


She dared! See more »


Drama | Romance


Unrated | See all certifications »






Release Date:

14 February 1931 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ilícito See more »


Box Office


$249,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono (Brunswick Radios Used Exclusively)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The radio seen in the Ives' Manhattan townhouse - an obvious product placement with the close-up - is a Brunswick Panatrope model S-31 made by the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company of Chicago. It also includes a 78 rpm turntable on top. In good working and cosmetic condition in 2017 it could be worth $250 or more. However, at the time, it was state-of-the-art and quite expensive with a MSRP of $700 ($10,700 in 2017). See more »


As Dick and Anne are walking out of the kitchen, about five minutes into the film, a moving shadow of the boom microphone is visible on the wall to the left. See more »


Anne Vincent Ives: What's new in the world of slander?
Helen 'Duckie' Childers: Innumerable things. Innumerable.
See more »


Version of Ex-Lady (1933) See more »


Get Happy
(1930) (uncredited)
Music by Harold Arlen
Background music at the Club Lido
See more »

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User Reviews

Precode film with good performances
31 August 2006 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

The plot of "Illicit" is similar to the plot of an early Bette Davis film called "Ex-Lady" made two years after this one. They should be similar - Edith Fitzgerald wrote both of them. "Ex-Lady" was based on an unproduced play, and "Illicit" actually was a play. Both concern women who don't want to get married and men who do. Anne (Stanwyck)(like Davis) is an unconventional free spirit afraid that marriage will destroy the romance she has with Dick (James Rennie). However, word gets around that the two have been weekending in Connecticut, and Dick's father (Claude Gillingwater) convinces her to agree to marry Dick. Thanks to an old girlfriend of Dick's and an old beau of Anne's, trouble brews in paradise once the rings are exchanged.

This is an early sound film, so the rhythm is off, and some of the sound has an echo. However, a few pauses that are a little too long don't really impede the fine acting. Stanwyck is wonderful and gives indication of the wonderful star she will become. She's funny, vivacious, and likable. Charles Butterworth plays a drunken friend very convincingly, and Claude Gillingwater is dignified yet warm as Dick's father. Rennie makes an attractive lover turned husband for Stanwyck. Joan Blondell has a small role as a friend.

The film is interesting because it's early Stanwyck, but also because of the independent woman angle which soon will fade from view with the ushering in of the code. Once the '40s hit, the independent woman became an uptight career woman wearing a tailored suit, her hair up, and sporting a stern attitude. Young, carefree non-virgins became a thing of the past. But these precode films are what helped mold the strong images of Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, and Barbara Stanwyck and are worth watching.

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