6.9/10
1,894
61 user 23 critic

The Sign of the Cross (1932)

Not Rated | | Drama, History | 10 February 1933 (USA)
A Roman soldier becomes torn between his love for a Christian woman and his loyalty to Emperor Nero.

Director:

Cecil B. DeMille (as Cecil B. De Mille)

Writers:

Waldemar Young (screen play), Sidney Buchman (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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 / Old Man Carrying Child
Joyzelle Joyner ... Ancaria (as Joyzelle)
Richard Alexander ... Viturius
Nat Pendleton ... Strabo
Clarence Burton ... Servillius
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During the Oklahoma Land Rush, the lawlessness is exacerbated by the McCord gang's feud with the Kincaids, who are trying to bring law and justice to the region.

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Storyline

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 <jao@jao.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Drama | History

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Cecil B. DeMille deliberately cast Claudette Colbert against type as Poppaea. Until then, Colbert had been playing innocent ingénue roles, and this was her first 'wicked' role, which she relished playing. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Emperor Nero: My head is splitting... the wine last night, the music... the delicious debauchery!
See more »

Alternate Versions

EMKA Limited (the film's current owner) and American Movie Classics restored and preserved the original full-length version in 1994 and is available on video. This restored version runs 125 minutes (including a 3-minute intermission). See more »

Connections

References Quo Vadis? (1924) See more »

Soundtracks

Ancaria's Song and Dance (The Naked Moon)
(1932) (uncredited)
Music by Rudolph G. Kopp
Lyrics by Sidney Buchman
Played at the orgy and danced and sung by Joyzelle Joyner
See more »

User Reviews

 
Donkey Milk, Take Me Away
5 June 2014 | by utgard14See all my reviews

Great old DeMille flick about the persecution of Christians in ancient Rome. The movie starts with Emperor Nero (Charles Laughton) laughing and playing music while Rome burns. When someone reminds him that the people might hold Nero responsible, he quickly decides to blame the unpopular believers of the new Christian religion. As Christians are being rounded up and killed, Roman prefect Marcus (Fredric March) falls in love with a Christian girl (Elissa Landi). This doesn't sit well with Empress Poppaea (Claudette Colbert), who's in love with Marcus, and she conspires to have the girl arrested.

Charles Laughton gives an outrageously hammy performance and I loved every second of it. I wish he had been in the film a lot more. Fredric March is good, as always. Lovely Elissa Landi does an admirable job in probably her biggest role but she's eclipsed by Claudette Colbert. What this film is perhaps most famous for is the scene where Colbert takes a bath in donkey milk, in which we see quite a bit of what God gave Ms. Colbert to work with. She's a beautiful woman and it's a very sexy scene. The sets and costumes are great, as one expects from a Cecil B. DeMille picture. It's just a really good film, entertaining and dramatic, with some provocative bits of sex and violence that will surely please pre-Code fans. If for no other reason, see it for Colbert.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

10 February 1933 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Sign of the Cross See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(without intermission) | (original)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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