The Sign of the Cross (film)

The Sign of the Cross is a 1932 epic film made by Paramount Pictures. It was produced and directed by Cecil B. DeMille from a screenplay by Waldemar Young and Sidney Buchman, based on the 1896 play by Wilson Barrett. Both play and film have a strong resemblance to the novel Quo Vadis, and like the novel, take place in ancient Rome during the reign of Nero. The art direction and costume design were by Mitchell Leisen who also acted as assistant director.

The film stars Fredric March, Elissa Landi, Claudette Colbert, and Charles Laughton with Ian Keith.

The film is the third and last in DeMille's biblical trilogy with The Ten Commandments (1923) and The King of Kings (1927).

It was filmed on location in Fresno, California, USA. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography (Karl Struss).

The film was cut by DeMille for its 1944 rerelease, so it would conform to the Production Code. New footage with a World War II setting, featuring actor Stanley Ridges (who did not appear in the film originally) was added to make the film more topical. In the new prologue, a group of planes is seen flying over what was ancient Rome. The conversation of the soldiers in one of the planes leads directly into the film's original opening scene. The last few seconds of the edited version of the film showed the planes flying off into the distance, rather than simply fading out on the original closing scene of the movie.

For many years, this edited version was the only one available. The version now shown on Turner Classic Movies has been restored to the original 125 minute length by the UCLA Film and Television Archive with the help of the DeMille estate and Universal Pictures, which now owns all pre-1948 Paramount releases.


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