IMDb > The Sign of the Cross (1932)
The Sign of the Cross
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The Sign of the Cross (1932) More at IMDbPro »

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User Rating:
7.0/10   1,449 votes »
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Popularity: ?
Down 13% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Waldemar Young (screen play) and
Sidney Buchman (screen play) ...
View company contact information for The Sign of the Cross on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
10 February 1933 (USA) See more »
A picture which will proudly lead all the entertainments the world has ever seen
A Roman soldier becomes torn between his love for a Christian woman and his loyalty to Emperor Nero. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Nominated for Oscar. See more »
User Reviews:
Lethargic early Roman epic of the talkies See more (57 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Fredric March ... Marcus Superbus, Prefect of Rome

Elissa Landi ... Mercia

Claudette Colbert ... Empress Poppaea

Charles Laughton ... Emperor Nero Claudius Caesar
Ian Keith ... Tigellinus
Arthur Hohl ... Titus
Harry Beresford ... Favius Fontelas
Tommy Conlon ... Stephan
Ferdinand Gottschalk ... Glabrio
Vivian Tobin ... Dacia
William V. Mong ... Licinius
Joyzelle Joyner ... Ancaria (as Joyzelle)
Richard Alexander ... Viturius

Nat Pendleton ... Strabo
Clarence Burton ... Servillius
Harold Healy ... Tybul
Robert Seiter ... Philodemus (as Robert Manning)

Charles Middleton ... Tyros
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Joel Allen ... Bombadier (1944 Re-Release Prologue) (uncredited)

Mischa Auer ... Christian in Dungeon (uncredited)
Lionel Belmore ... Bettor of 300 Silver (uncredited)
True Boardman ... Nero's Slave (uncredited)
Marjorie Bonner ... Roman Woman (uncredited)
Joe Bonomo ... Mute Torturer (uncredited)

Henry Brandon ... Colosseum Spectator (uncredited)
George Bruggeman ... Nero's Slave (uncredited)
Horace B. Carpenter ... (uncredited)

John Carradine ... Christian Martyr / Gladiator Leader / Voice in Coliseum Mob / Voice of Roman (uncredited)

Lane Chandler ... Chained Christian (uncredited)

Ruth Clifford ... Christian Mother at Meeting (uncredited)
William Forrest ... Col. Hugh Mason (1944 Re-Release Prologue) (uncredited)
Wynne Gibson ... Orgy Guest (uncredited)
Dorothy Granger ... (uncredited)
Carol Holloway ... (uncredited)
John James ... Lt. Herb Hanson (1944 Re-Release Prologue) (uncredited)
Otto Lederer ... (uncredited)
Lillian Leighton ... Woman Getting Gold for Cup (uncredited)
Edward LeSaint ... Enthusiastic Spectator (uncredited)
Wilfred Lucas ... (uncredited)
James Millican ... Capt. Kevin Driscoll - (1944 Re-Release Prologue) (uncredited)
Gertrude Norman ... Christian (uncredited)
Wedgwood Nowell ... Man Accepting 300 Silver Bet (uncredited)

Dave O'Brien ... Christian on Stairway (uncredited)
William H. O'Brien ... Man Who Heard Lions All Morning (uncredited)
Hal Price ... Spectator (uncredited)

Sally Rand ... Crocodiles' Victim (uncredited)
Tom Ricketts ... Sleeping Spectator (uncredited)
Stanley Ridges ... Chaplain Lloyd (1944 Re-Release Prologue) (uncredited)
Angelo Rossitto ... Impaled Pygmy (uncredited)
Ynez Seabury ... Little Girl (uncredited)
Arthur Shields ... Chaplain Costello (1944 Re-Release Prologue) (uncredited)
Jerome Storm ... (uncredited)

Kent Taylor ... Romantic Spectator (uncredited)
Oliver Thorndike ... Lt. Robert Hammond (1944 Re-Release Prologue) (uncredited)
Tom Tully ... Hoboken (1944 Re-Release Prologue) (uncredited)
Florence Turner ... Christian (uncredited)
Ethel Wales ... Complaining Wife (uncredited)

Directed by
Cecil B. DeMille  (as Cecil B. De Mille)
Writing credits
Waldemar Young (screen play) and
Sidney Buchman (screen play)

Wilson Barrett (from the play by)

Dudley Nichols  1944 prologue (uncredited)
Henryk Sienkiewicz  novel "Quo Vadis" (uncredited source)

Produced by
Cecil B. DeMille .... producer (uncredited)
Original Music by
Jay Chernis (uncredited)
Rudolph G. Kopp (uncredited)
Paul Marquardt (uncredited)
Milan Roder (uncredited)
Cinematography by
Karl Struss (photographed by)
Film Editing by
Anne Bauchens (uncredited)
Art Direction by
Mitchell Leisen (uncredited)
Costume Design by
Mitchell Leisen (costumes by)
Makeup Department
James Collins .... makeup artist (uncredited)
Production Management
Roy Burns .... production manager (uncredited)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Mitchell Leisen .... assistant director (uncredited)
Edward Salven .... assistant director (uncredited)
Art Department
Mitchell Leisen .... art director: 1944 prologue (uncredited)
Sound Department
Treg Brown .... sound effects editor (uncredited)
Harry Lindgren .... sound engineer (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
George T. Clemens .... camera operator (uncredited)
Otto Dyar .... still photographer (uncredited)
Cliff Shirpser .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Fleet Southcott .... first assistant camera (uncredited)
William E. Thomas .... still photographer (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Charles Gemora .... gorilla costume creator (uncredited)
Eugene Joseff .... costume jeweller (uncredited)
Music Department
Nat W. Finston .... music supervisor (uncredited)
George Parrish .... orchestrator: prologue (1944 re-release ) (uncredited)
Victor Young .... composer: prologue (1944 re-release ) (uncredited)
Other crew
Chester Seay .... archery instructor (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production Companies
  • Paramount Pictures (presents) (as Paramount Publix Corporation) (Cecil B. De Mille's Production)

Additional Details

Also Known As:
West Germany:108 min | 122 min (without intermission)
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)
Argentina:16 | Norway:16 (1947) | Singapore:NC16 | Sweden:15 | UK:A | USA:Not Rated (DVD Rating) | USA:Passed (National Board of Review) | USA:Approved (PCA #1581-R, 23 September 1935 for re-release) | West Germany:16 (f)
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

In this film, Charles Laughton plays the Roman emperor Nero. In the unfinished I, Claudius (1937) he played Claudius, Nero's great-uncle, stepfather, and predecessor.See more »
Continuity: When the boxers are fighting with the spiked gloves, the loser gets punched in the face. He is shown with scars on his face and spits blood onto his chest. In the next shot (from a slightly different angle) the scars are there but the blood on his chest is gone.See more »
Emperor Nero:My head is splitting... the wine last night, the music... the delicious debauchery!See more »
Movie Connections:
Ancaria's Song and Dance (The Naked Moon)See more »


This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
10 out of 18 people found the following review useful.
Lethargic early Roman epic of the talkies, 15 July 2003

Roman epics did not really come into their own until the advent of widescreen. We did have the silent BEN-HUR and QUO VADIS. (The silent KING OF KINGS does not concentrate on Rome although it is of course a backdrop).

The first talkie to deal with Imperial Rome was THE SIGN OF THE CROSS- from a play freely adapted from (and with no credit to) the novel QUO VADIS. The similarities in plot are too great to overlook this point.

Unfortunately, the limitations of the microphone and the care directors took to make sure every word was carefully pronounced and understood by audiences often resulted in static and wordy scenes. THE SIGN OF THE CROSS suffers from this problem. Even the simulated gore and horrors of the final half hour arena sequence are presented in a leisurely fashion.

The only "oomph" this production gets is in the supporting performances of Laughton's Nero (only two scenes in Act One and two in Act Two) and Colbert's Poppaea (four scenes in Act One and two in Act Two). The two share three of their scenes together. If only we'd had more of them, the production might have been spicier.

The VHS remastering of the complete original with restored scenes is visually stunning. The soundtrack however suffers from an electronic wobble from the projector being used which is quite noticeable in Act One for about a half hour of the film's running time. There is an Intermission which occurs 75 minutes into the film with Intermission Music played over a black screen before the second act begins.

If you are a fan of films dealing with Christianity and/or Rome, this is a must-have. It wouldn't be until nearly twenty years later (MGM's QUO VADIS - 1951) that Hollywood came back to this dual theme. The latter's boxoffice returns inspired the CinemaScope production, THE ROBE, and from then on Roman and Biblical epics were a genre.

If you are not a fan of either genre, your enjoyment may only come from Colbert and Laughton's brief scenes and the concluding arena segment.

Was the above review useful to you?
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