6.9/10
1,716
61 user 21 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 »
Reviews

On Disc

at Amazon

Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Cleopatra (1934)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

The man-hungry Queen of Egypt leads Julius Caesar and Mark Antony astray, amid scenes of DeMillean splendor.

Director: Cecil B. DeMille
Stars: Claudette Colbert, Warren William, Henry Wilcoxon
The Crusades (1935)
Certificate: Passed Adventure | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

King Richard and the Third Crusade (1190-1192) are given the DeMille treatment with more spectacle than history.

Director: Cecil B. DeMille
Stars: Loretta Young, Henry Wilcoxon, Ian Keith
Certificate: Passed Biography | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

The first part tells the story of Moses leading the Jews from Egypt to the Promised Land, his receipt of the tablets and the worship of the golden calf. The second part shows the efficacy ... See full summary »

Director: Cecil B. DeMille
Stars: Theodore Roberts, Charles de Rochefort, Estelle Taylor
Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Four passengers escape their bubonic plague-infested ship and land on the coast of a wild jungle. In order to reach safety they have to trek through the jungle, facing wild animals and attacks by primitive tribesmen.

Director: Cecil B. DeMille
Stars: Claudette Colbert, Herbert Marshall, Mary Boland
The Buccaneer (1938)
Biography | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Semi-fictional account of pirate Jean Lafitte's involvement in the War of 1812.

Director: Cecil B. DeMille
Stars: Fredric March, Franciska Gaal, Akim Tamiroff
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Jesus Christ faces religious and political oppression during his ministry and in the days before his death and resurrection.

Director: Cecil B. DeMille
Stars: H.B. Warner, Dorothy Cumming, Ernest Torrence
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

The adoptive father of a young woman is horrified to learn she plans to marry the son of the man who accidentally killed her aunt years before.

Director: Sidney Franklin
Stars: Norma Shearer, Fredric March, Leslie Howard
Certificate: Passed Drama | Fantasy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

The Grim Reaper takes the form of a prince in an attempt to relate to humans and, along the way, also learns what it is to love.

Director: Mitchell Leisen
Stars: Fredric March, Evelyn Venable, Guy Standing
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

The recently widowed Mary Stuart returns to Scotland to reclaim her throne but is opposed by her half-brother and her own Scottish lords.

Directors: John Ford, Leslie Goodwins
Stars: Katharine Hepburn, Fredric March, Florence Eldridge
Certificate: Passed Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A prince plots to kill the mad monk Rasputin for the good of the czar, the czarina and Russia.

Directors: Richard Boleslawski, Charles Brabin
Stars: John Barrymore, Ethel Barrymore, Lionel Barrymore
Union Pacific (1939)
Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

In 1862, Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads compete westward across the wilderness toward California.

Director: Cecil B. DeMille
Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Joel McCrea, Akim Tamiroff
We Live Again (1934)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Nekhlyudov, a Russian nobleman serving on a jury, discovers that the young girl on trial, Katusha, is someone he once seduced and abandoned and that he himself bears responsibility for ... See full summary »

Director: Rouben Mamoulian
Stars: Anna Sten, Fredric March, Jane Baxter
Edit

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 Clarence Burton ... Servillius
Edit

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 »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

10 February 1933 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El signo de la cruz See more »

Filming Locations:

Fresno, California, USA 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 »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Film debut (uncredited) of Henry Brandon. See more »

Goofs

As the Christians are holding their clandestine meeting at the Grove, right before the little girl asks her mother "Why don't they sing loud?", the shadow of the boom mic can be seen hovering over the people in the background. See more »

Quotes

[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 »


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 »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
The Wages of Sin are Quite Entertaining
7 June 2007 | by dglinkSee all my reviews

Cecil B. DeMille was famous for the excesses he depicted on screen, and "The Sign of the Cross" has enough excess for a dozen movies by any other director. Fortunately, DeMille loved to detail the debauchery that warranted divine punishment, because he was more adept and entertaining when portraying orgies than he was when depicting piety. Perhaps sin is intrinsically more interesting than virtue. Certainly the sinful characters, especially Charles Laughton as Nero and Claudette Colbert as Poppaea, are riveting and colorfully conceived. Laughton lolls around on his divans, while alluring slave boys attend to his whims. Colbert lures and tempts lovers when not catering to her bare flesh in a milk bath. Bloody gladiatorial games and the obligatory feeding Christians to the wild beasts keep the proceedings on track, and an erotic Lesbian dance enlivens an otherwise dragging orgiastic gathering. Orgies can be difficult to film because the delights are far more evident to participants than they are to viewers. Perhaps every orgy needs a Lesbian dance.

Unfortunately, DeMille felt compelled to throw away screen time on a group of early Christians, whose idea of a good time was to sit on rocks, sing tuneless songs, and listen to a motivational speaker. Naturally, the improbably named Marcus Superbus, played by Frederic March in a fetching mini-skirt and tight curls, falls in love with Mercia, a bland, but virginal, Elissa Landi, and he rejects the advances of the milky, silky Claudette Colbert, who had been around the Colosseum a few times. Of course, March not only rejects Colbert, but risks losing the endless parties and his own rising career for the touch of Landi's soft hand. "The Sign of the Cross" is hardly convincing drama despite the lure of Romans sinning every way, everywhere, and with everybody.

If the corny dialog and stilted scenes of pious proceedings had been severely cut and Laughton's and Colbert's roles had been brought to center focus, the film would have been a delicious camp spectacle. However, as the film now plays, viewers must patiently wait out the dull-as-drying-paint scenes with Landi and company to savor the sinful delights of Nero and Poppaea, which make "The Sign of the Cross" worth a look and a hoot or two.


8 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 61 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Trending Movies With Prime Video

Enjoy a night in with these popular movies available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed