The Sign of the Cross 08/18/20
The message of this ode to early Christian martyrs is overpowered by Cecil B. DeMille’s indulgence of his sanctimonious/perverse instincts: although seldom lumped in with other pre-Code sex & sadism offenders, there’s more salacious and violent content here than in a dozen ordinary ‘discouraged’ pre-Code pictures. Fredric March and Elissa Landi provide the pro-Christian idealism, but Charles Laughton and especially Claudette Colbert steal the show with marvelously wicked portraits of Emperor Nero and Empress Poppea. The smirks and come-hither looks are backed up with hot scenes that filled seats in Depression-era theaters. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.