Illicit (film)

Illicit is a 1931 American pre-Code drama film directed by Archie Mayo and starring Barbara Stanwyck, James Rennie, Ricardo Cortez, and Natalie Moorhead. Based on a play by Edith Fitzgerald and Robert Riskin, the film is about a young couple living together out of wedlock because the woman does not believe in marriage. When they finally get married, both become unfaithful to each other. Illicit was produced and distributed by Warner Bros.[1]

Lobby card
Directed byArchie Mayo
Produced byDarryl F. Zanuck
Written by
Screenplay byHarvey F. Thew
Music by
CinematographyRobert Kurrle
Edited byWilliam Holmes
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Release date
  • February 14, 1931 (1931-02-14) (USA)
Running time
79 minutes
CountryUnited States


Anne Vincent is a woman who has modern ideas about love. She believes that marriage kills love and leads to unhappiness and, inevitably, divorce. Although her boyfriend, Dick Ives II, and his father, Dick Sr., try to persuade Anne to get married, she resists their arguments. She believes it is important for people to be individuals, and that when they marry, they tend to become too emotionally dependent on each other, rather than, as an old suitor says, "being responsible to no one but herself." Both Anne and Dick have prior romantic entanglements still in the picture. Margie True admits she still loves Dick, and they talk; he says she will find someone who loves her as much as he loves Anne.

Anne and Dick see each other until late at night, and go away for weekends together for a while without getting married. However, after word gets out about a weekend away, Dick pressures Anne, and eventually she caves in to avoid scandal. When the news becomes public, Anne receives a telegram from her ex-boyfriend, Price Baines, saying that he wants to visit her. Dick doesn't want Anne to see him, but she does so anyway. Price tries to persuade Anne not to get married, tells her that he is still in love with her, and warns her that she will be unhappy if she marries, but she has already made up her mind.

Anne marries Dick, and they start to behave like a typical married couple, meeting social expectations regarding attending events and visiting people. They seem to be unable to share the romantic time alone together that they did in the past. They tire of each other, avoid each other and fight over silly things. Eventually Anne tells Dick that they need to separate for a time. At first this rekindles the romance. But when Price Baines comes back into the picture, Dick becomes resentful, and starts to take an interest in Margie True, who tells him that she is still in love with him. Price Baines woos Anne aggressively. Ultimately, however, the separation makes Dick and Anne realize that there are no substitutes for each other, in spite of the costs involved.




  • "When Love Comes in the Moonlight" Played during the credits (from the Warner Bros. musical Oh Sailor Behave).
  • "Maybe It's Love" Sung by James Rennie and Barbara Stanwyck (from the Warner Bros. musical Maybe It's Love).
  • "Looking for the Lovelight in the Dark" Played on the radio (from the Warner Bros. musical Top Speed).
  • "Pretty Little You" Played on the radio (from the Warner Bros. film Son of the Gods).
  • "In the Land of Let's Pretend" Used in scoring (from the Warner Bros. musical On with the Show).
  • "Get Happy" Played in nightclub


The film survives intact and has been shown on television and cable. A copy is held in the Library of Congress collection.[2]


  1. The AFI Catalog of Feature Films 1893-1993: Illicit
  2. Catalog of Holdings The American Film Institute Collection and The United Artists Collection at The Library of Congress, (<-book title) p.87 c.1978 by The American Film Institute
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