Forbidden (1932 film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed byFrank Capra
Produced by
Screenplay byJo Swerling
Story byFrank Capra
Based onBack Street
1931 novel
by Fannie Hurst
CinematographyJoseph Walker
Edited byMaurice Wright
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • January 15, 1932 (1932-01-15) (USA)
Running time
83 minutes
CountryUnited States

Forbidden is a 1932 American pre-Code melodrama film directed by Frank Capra and starring Barbara Stanwyck, Adolphe Menjou, and Ralph Bellamy. Based on the novel Back Street by Fannie Hurst, with a screenplay by Jo Swerling, the film is about a young librarian who falls in love with a married man while on a sea cruise.[1]


Librarian Lulu Smith shows up late to work for the first time in eight years—the victim of Spring fever. Frustrated by her loneliness, she withdraws her life savings and buys a ticket for a romantic cruise to Havana—the "land of romance". On the ship, she meets Bob Grover, a lawyer with political ambitions, who mistook her room 66 for his room 99 after a few too many drinks. They have dinner together, and soon they develop a romantic attraction. In Havana, they spend their time together gambling and having fun. When he asks why she came to Havana, she answers, "To meet you".

After they return, Lulu takes a job as a clerical assistant for the Daily Record newspaper, where she is pursued by brash reporter Al Holland. But Lulu is "sappy" over Bob. A few months into their affair, Bob comes to Lulu's apartment for dinner, bringing two Halloween masks with which they have fun. She is eager to reveal that she is pregnant with their child. Their merriment is interrupted by a phone call from Al, whose proposal to Lulu prompts Bob to confess that he is married to an invalid wife whom he cannot abandon. Lulu wants to continue their affair, but Bob refuses to let her waste her life on him. Upset at his confession, Lulu throws him out of her apartment without telling him that she is pregnant. A few months later, Lulu gives birth to a baby girl.

Two years later, Bob has become district attorney and Al is now city editor of the newspaper. After Bob hires a detective to find Lulu, he comes to her apartment, where Lulu introduces him to his daughter Roberta. Soon after, while Lulu and Roberta are waiting to meet Bob, Al suddenly appears and questions her about Roberta. When Bob arrives, Lulu tells Al that the baby is Bob's adopted daughter in order to protect Bob's reputation. She also tells Al that she is the baby's governess. Bob adopts Roberta, taking her home the next day to present to his wife, Helen, who just returned from a health cure in Vienna. Helen is delighted with the child but questions Lulu's ability to care for the baby. Lulu runs out, and when Bob catches up with her, she tries to break up their relationship for good—but she cannot leave him.

Turning to Al for a job, Lulu becomes the "advice to the lovelorn" columnist for his newspaper. Al tries to get information about Bob and Roberta in order to undermine Bob's political career, but Lulu refuses to say anything. Years pass, and Lulu follows Bob's career as he becomes mayor, congressman, and eventually senator. She also follows her daughter becoming a beautiful debutante. Lulu is still working at the newspaper for Al, who has become managing editor. He still pursues her, but she remains in love with Bob.

On the night Bob is nominated for governor, he comes to Lulu's apartment, disheartened and ashamed of the hypocrisy of his secret life. When he threatens to confess the truth to the public, Lulu talks him out of tearing down his career. The next day, Lulu asks Al to marry her in an effort to prevent Bob from destroying his political life. On the night of Bob's election, Al reveals to Lulu that he knows all about her, Bob, and Roberta. When she tries to retrieve a personal letter that he intercepted, Al hits her across the face. Faced with the threat of Bob's destruction, Lulu shoots Al dead to prevent him from publishing the story.

One year later, Lulu receives a pardon from Bob after serving a short jail term. She visits Bob who is on his deathbed, and he shows her his new will, which reveals everything about their relationship and leaves her half of his estate. After he dies, however, Lulu tears up the will in order to protect Bob and their daughter Roberta, who is engaged to be married.


Lobby card

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Forbidden (1932)". The New York Times. Retrieved January 26, 2013.

External links[edit]