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The Sign of the Cross (1932)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, History  |  10 February 1933 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 1,430 users  
Reviews: 57 user | 15 critic

A Roman soldier becomes torn between his love for a Christian woman and his loyalty to Emperor Nero.


(as Cecil B. De Mille)


(screen play), (screen play), 3 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »
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Jesus Christ faces religious and political oppression during his ministry and in the days before his death and resurrection.

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ian Keith ...
Arthur Hohl ...
Harry Beresford ...
Tommy Conlon ...
Ferdinand Gottschalk ...
Vivian Tobin ...
William V. Mong ...
Joyzelle Joyner ...
Ancaria (as Joyzelle)
Richard Alexander ...
Clarence Burton ...


After burning Rome, Emperor Nero decides to blame the Christians, and issues the edict that they are all to be caught and sent to the arena. Two old Christians are caught, and about to be hauled off, when Marcus, the highest military official in Rome, comes upon them. When he sees their stepdaughter Mercia, he instantly falls in love with her and frees them. Marcus pursues Mercia, which gets him into trouble with Emperor (for being easy on Christians) and with the Empress, who loves him and is jealous. Written by John Oswalt <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A picture which will proudly lead all the entertainments the world has ever seen


Drama | History


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

10 February 1933 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Im Zeichen des Kreuzes  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(without intermission)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


One of over 700 Paramount productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by MCA ever since. The 1944 re-release version was chosen for this television package and was not replaced with the original uncut version until the 1990's. See more »


A gorilla is seen menacing a chained Christian woman in the arena but in reality gorilla's where not seen until 1856-59 when explorer Paul Du Chaillu became the first westerner to see a live gorilla during his travel through western equatorial Africa . See more »


[the Empress, soaking naked in a tub of ass's milk and calling to her handmaiden]
Poppaea: Dacia, you're a butterfly with the sting of a wasp. Take off your clothes. Get in here and tell me all about it.
See more »


Featured in American Grindhouse (2010) See more »


Christian Hymn No.1
(1932) (uncredited)
Music and Lyrics by Rudolph G. Kopp
Sung a cappella by Christians at the meeting
Reprised by them after their capture and at the arena
Sung a cappella by Elissa Landi and Tommy Conlon
Played and sung offscreen at the end
See more »

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User Reviews

The earlier "Sign of the Cross"
1 December 2006 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

"The Sign of the Cross" was originally a play by Wilson Barrett, who had bought the English rights to "Quo Vadis" from Henrik Sienkiewicz and shortened and simplified the plot. My great-grandfather William Haggar's theatrical company performed the play in the 1890s, changing the title to "The Shadow of the Cross" to avoid having to pay a copyright fee of £3 3s. per performance. When William went into making films to show to his own audiences on the fairgrounds, after three years of gradually lengthening films, in 1904 he made "The Sign of the Cross", in an epic 700 feet (lasting about 11 minutes), which A.C. Bromhead, the founder of Gaumont-GB, later recalled, in a lecture to the British Kinematograph Society, amazed everyone by its length. William's film was then duped and shown in the USA in 1905 by Sigmund Lubin. For a biography of William Haggar and more details of his film career, see my book, "William Haggar, fairground film-maker", to be published in May 2007 by Accent Press Ltd., and visit

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