Starlets on Posters #3

Janet Blair. I'll have to see this one sometime, because Glenda Farrell is in it.
Mari Blanchard
Gale Robbins and Allison Hayes.
Edna Murphy's great eyes.
Demille's pre-Code masterpiece.
I just watched The Sign of The Cross last night. It's very,
very pre-Code, if you know what I mean. Cecil B. DeMille
was a very conflicted dude. He has Claudette Colbert bath
in milk, quite obviously naked, and gives her a lot of screen
time doing it. (I've heard they filmed until the milk bath
was well past curdled.) DeMille talks about "salvation," then
he feeds a suspended nude girl to alligators (or crocodiles).
You get Fredric March fondling girls at an orgy, followed by
a discussion of "faith," followed by a tied-up half-naked girl
being molested by a gorilla. Charles Laughton wears a fake
nose and plays Nero over the top. A naked teenage boy sits
at his side during a Roman circus, which Charles must have
enjoyed a lot. The very elaborate crowd scenes are the best
part of the movie with a gazillion throwaway lines and many
interesting extras. Amazon women impale midgets on their
swords. Gladiators slay one another. An uncredited John
Carradine speaks a few lines. There is talk about ever-lasting
life. Elephants step on people's heads. And, finally, DeMille
feeds all the Christians to the lions. That is very simply a
textbook description of CONFLICTED. It is, however, a
pretty well-done conflicted film and more interesting than
his post-Code stuff.

1 comment:

Gloria said...

Maybe wasn't a matter of just being conflicted: I bet that C.B. was aware that naked beauties tied with flowered ropes being approached by lusty gorillas would bring more audiences that saintly people praying (smart old C.B.!)

Incidentally, having seen the pre-code version recently (I had seen earlier the 40s censored/edited version) I must say that the circus scenes are some of the most bizarre stuff I've seen in a movie, really, any post-60s film really wasn't as wild... I mean... Russ Meyers? Ken Russell? pre-code C.B. beats'em with his little finger!

And I love Laughton in it: he has so much fan playing a flaming Nero setting Rome in flames... Of the screen Neros I'Ve seen so far, he's my favourite: You can Imagine his very decadent, proto-Wildean Nero sensually enjoying an imperial Roman orgy... Ustinov's Nero in "Quo Vadis" seems virginal in comparison