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The First Legion (1951)

 -  Drama  -  4 May 1951 (France)
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 79 users  
Reviews: 3 user | 5 critic

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Title: The First Legion (1951)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Father Marc Arnoux
Monsignor Michael Carey
Dr. Peter Morrell
Terry Gilmartin
Father Rector Paul Duquesne
Walter Hampden ...
Father Edward Quarterman
Father John Fulton
Taylor Holmes ...
Father Keene
Fr. Jose Sierra
George Zucco ...
Father Robert Stuart
John McGuire ...
Father Tom Rawleigh
Clifford Brooke ...
Brother Clifford
Mrs. Dunn
Mrs. Nora Gilmartin
Queenie Smith ...


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Release Date:

4 May 1951 (France)  »

Also Known As:

The First Legion  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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User Reviews

The first masterpiece ?

After making a number of unremarkable movies in the 1940's, director Douglas Sirk a German immigrant in America, decided to return to his homeland. However it was not long before the disillusioned Sirk found himself back in Hollywood where he signed a contract with Universal for whom he made a number of movies, some of which proved their largest commercial successes of the decade. The irony of Sirk's career is that at the very pinnacle of his success he once again returned to Germany, this time for good.

Universal assigned him with scripts and actors which were often decidedly second league. With time, Sirk garnered a reputation for creating memorable movies despite these disadvantageous circumstances. This he achieved with an acute eye for imagery and an incisively critical eye as to American society.

Before signing with Universal, he managed to make one independent film, "The First Legion" and as such it's a work of much importance to anyone interested in Sirk's work. Here he clearly had far greater choice as to subject matter without the constraints of the studio. "The First Legion" is an essay on the nature of belief and perception of reality in the framework of a Jesuit monastry in small town America.

As with most of Sirk's work the camera is utilized with a beguiling subtlety. His sharp visual sense and his cunningly unobtrusive camera become the tools for the telling of the real story he chose to tell, even when lumbered with inferior scripts and performers. Thankfully, the script and the actors are far above the level that Universal afforded him. Charles Boyer, Leo G. Carroll, William Demarest and Lyle Bettger acquit themselves extremely well as does Barbara Rush, who worked with Sirk on four movies.

"The First Legion" has been called Sirk's first masterpiece. While not quite in the class of the movies he made in his prime, it's a fine piece of work by an intriguing and intelligent film maker.

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