Forbidden

The vitriol and hurt coursing through this prickly, scandalous pre-code melodrama from 1932 may wrong-foot those who had director Frank Capra pegged as head cheerleader for good ol’ American democracy and cheery, affirmative humanist values. A fizzed-up holiday romance between a thrillseeking, small town librarian (Barbara Stanwyck) and a raffish lawyer (Adolphe Menjou) with his eyes on the governorship goes south when he reveals he’s married to an invalid and his guilt won’t allow him to leave her. Stanwyck dutifully makes sacrifices at every turn believing that true love won’t fail her in the end, but the cynicism and hypocrisy of the men in her life (including Ralph Bellamy’s mercenary newshound) lead to ruin. What’s special about this little-known movie is the way that Capra endears you to these characters while refusing to make any judgements on their actions. We may pity Stanwyck (who is icily stunning in the lead), but we may also see her as engineer of her own downfall.

Release details

Rated: PG
Release date: Friday October 29 2010
Duration: 81 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Frank Capra
Screenwriter: Frank Capra, Jo Swerling
Cast: Barbara Stanwyck
Adolphe Menjou
Ralph Bellamy
Dorothy Peterson
Henry Armeta
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