Forbidden (Capra, 1932)

Barbara Stanwyck performance of sheer suffering makes Forbidden a tolerable melodrama. Directed by a young Frank Capra, this story of unrequited love follows an ill conceived romance between a librarian named Lulu (Stanwyck) and a District Attorney (played with wooden ease by Adolphe Menjou). Throw in a jealous newspaper editor (Ralph Bellamy) and you’ve got a genuine love triangle, one with all the excitement of a root canal. Capra follows with these characters for decades, yet never sustains a complex resonance with them except for Lulu, whose pain and anguish include giving up her only child, sacrificing her life’s work, and standing by while her man ascends to the governorship with only a few kisses to show for. Sorry Mr. Capra, there’s no way this Phyllis Dietrichson should have waited twenty years to put a cap in somebody’s behind. She deserves a lot better.

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