The Sign of the Cross
Sunday, November 7, 2021, 12:30 p.m.
Museum of the Moving Image - Redstone Theater
Dir. Cecil B. DeMille. 1932, 125 mins. 35mm. With Fredric March, Claudette Colbert, Charles Laughton, Elissa Landi, Ian Keith. Immensely controversial, DeMille’s The Sign of the Cross is a work of auteurist insanity that was deemed degenerate and a prime example of the kind of Hollywood decadence that would kick the restrictive Hays Production Code into full gear. An exorbitantly mounted portrait of ancient Rome, bedecked with over-the-top sadism and eroticism, DeMille’s hedonistic tale features a randy Laughton as Emperor Nero, a handsome young March as Roman prefect Marcus Superbus, and then-superstar Colbert as Empress Poppaea, who infamously bathes in a tub of asses’ milk. Heavily censored upon release, even before the Code went into effect, The Sign of the Cross is now noted as offering the kind of early queer Hollywood playfulness and sensuality that would all but disappear.
Other DatesNovember 5