Monday, September 25, 2017

Sign of the Pagan (1954)

Director: Douglas Sirk

Writers: Oscar Brodney, Barre Lyndon, Oscar Brodney

Composers: Hans J. Salter, Frank Skinner

Starring: Jeff Chandler, Jack Palance, Ludmilla Tcherina, Rita Gam, Jeff Morrow, George Dolenz, Eduard Franz, Allison Hayes, Alexander Scourby, Howard Petrie, Michael Ansara, Leo Gordon, Moroni Olsen

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Against the ravaging hordes of ATTILA...stood a warrior's might and a people's faith! Against his ruthless pagan lusts...the power of a woman's love!

Plot: With the Roman Empire divided, Attila the Hun hopes to conquer. In his way are a brave centurion, a beautiful princess...and Christianity.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Jack Palance doesn't get the credit I think he deserves.  He really was a good actor stuck in a largely B-movie world.  Just look at his role in THE PROFESSIONALS (1966).  Like in that film, Palance puts depth and humanity into his characters.  Attila isn't just some blood-thirsty barbarian.  He's a human with genuine he wants to rule the world.  There's always that.  Chandler does a fine job as well.  Not everyone does.  There's the odd actor here and there that takes it just a little too far but for the most part the cast does a fine job.  There's some action but it's mostly a drama.  The outdoor scenery is sometimes deceiving as it was filmed in California.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it looks like every other flick that has California landscapes in the background.  The palace set is nice, though.  It was shocking to discover that this film is highly inaccurate.  Some of the characters existed and there was a war.  That's about it.  Attila's death in this picture is about as wrong as you can be.  Read up on it after you see this and you'll get a big laugh.  There's WAY too much emphasis put on Christianity in this picture and that's a turn off in my book.  It's unnecessarily shoehorned into the story.  Now, I don't know if Palance's take on Attila is based on any truth or if it's just his way of interjecting some humanity in the role of an actual man whom everyone knows to be a murderous barbarian but his take works for me.  The first half of the picture is stronger than the second half but it still works for me on some level despite not being a great film.

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