Illicit - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Illicit Reviews

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Antonius Block
Super Reviewer
½ May 29, 2017
This film starts off strong enough, with Barbara Stanwyck playing James Rennie's lover and some charming early scenes. In a bit of a twist, she's the one not interested in marriage, as she believes it will destroy their happiness. It's clearly a pre-Code (and modern!) premise, and the baby-faced Stanwyck is adorable as she exclaims 'And we're both a riot in our underwear!' while talking about things they have in common. There are also some cute moments provided by their friend, a toper (Charles Butterworth), and when Stanwyck and Rennie are talking on the phone together. The film is not quite as good as it could have been, though, as the plot is predictable (they get married, and sure enough, they both cheat), and the conflicting emotions are not reflected well enough in any of the cast's acting. You have to give it credit for the premise though, and It's worth watching for Stanwyck and Butterworth.
½ April 8, 2017
"Can romance survive marriage?" Barbara Stanwyck plays a young woman who she and her beau are contemplating marriage, but worry it's going to basically kill their sex life. Although this is a pre-code film, it's not that racy outside of a few moments, such as at a lingerie party (buying, not wearing), when a friend of Stanwyck's states, "Once a girl is headed to the altar, she becomes so conventional." That's about as racy as it gets, although Stanwyck and her beau do have some affectionate scenes that probably wouldn't fly later with the Hayes Office. Stanwyck elevates this below average film at least average.
½ August 5, 2014
good pre-code early talkie
½ July 22, 2012
there are moments of brilliance, particularly from the dialogue and barbara stanwyk's performance, but for the most part, "illicit" isn't very good.
Super Reviewer
April 11, 2012
After allowing herself to be pressured into marriage, liberal society girl Stanwyck's fears of the "sacred institution" are realised.

She and Rennie are a young couple with much affection for each other who shack up at the weekend unbeknownst to their society peers, or so they think. Butterworth, entertaining in the obligatory drunken buffoon role, informs them that tongues, and disapproving fingers, have begun to wag. Stanwyck is an independent girl and couldn't give two hoots what society thinks of her but Rennie is uneasy; "don't tell me you don't love the pussyfooting" she jokes. When Rennie's father turns up at their hotel room Stanwyck gives into his pressure to conform despite her belief that marriage will put a strain on the relationship. Of course her fears are affirmed as Rennie begins carousing with predatory blond Moorhead.
Stanwyck has always been one of my favorite actresses and she's at her sultry best here, prowling around in figure-hugging backless gowns, an ass like a bag of panthers. She became known for playing strong women and in her formative years here she plays as independent a female as could have been represented at the time, standing up to society but ultimately broken by it.
Archie Mayo is a forgotten director, wrongly in this writer's view. He directed one of my favorite thirties pictures "The Petrified Forest" where he made stars out of no less than Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart. Despite the stagey nature of this script, he manages to inject some visual flair into the proceedings. The moment when Stanwyck realises she is being cheated on is handled effectively with a simple tracking shot into her expressive eyes.
It's an early role for Joan Blondell too who doesn't get much to do save stand around looking cute, a task she's well up to.
Ultimately the mores of it's time halt this movie from realising it's potential but I recommend it for fans of both Stanwyck and pre-coders.
½ May 10, 2010
Can you imagine, a 1931 Hollywood movie dealing with the pros and cons of getting married? Ann and Vincent are young, rich and very much in love, but the girl has "theories" and is convinced that marriage will kill all the spontaneity and playfulness of their relationship (which, to the great scandal of "society", includes sleeping together‚?¶). When Ann and Dick finally give in to the pressures of their friends and family and get married, serious jelousy and other problems of course follow... Apart from its "modern" subject matter, this movie is also notable for the excellent performance of a very young and pretty Barbara Stanwyck and the fantastic - though sometimes eccentric - clothes worn by the ladies.
½ June 27, 2009
Gets complicated some of the time
½ June 27, 2009
Gets complicated some of the time
October 7, 2008
god stuff but a little slow in spots
½ October 1, 2008
I heart Barbara Stanwyck. Precode Hollywood is ridiculously progressive about women. Good stuff.
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