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Sign of the Pagan
Sign of the Pagan
is a 1954 American CinemaScope
CinemaScope
Technicolor historical drama directed by Douglas Sirk and starring Jeff Chandler, Jack Palance, Ludmilla Tcherina
Ludmilla Tcherina
and Rita Gam.[2]

Contents

1 Plot 2 Cast 3 Production 4 Release 5 Proposed sequel 6 References 7 External links

Plot[edit] During the fifth century, the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
is divided into two parts: the West, with its capital in Rome, run by Emperor Valentinian III, and the East, with its capital in Constantinople, run by Emperor Theodosius. The Empire is under attack by the Huns under Attila. Roman soldier Marcian
Marcian
is carrying a message from Valentinian warning Theodosius against the Huns, when he is captured by Attila. Attila
Attila
is impressed by Marcian's honesty and courage. He carves out the arrow that has been shot into his leg, causing Marcian
Marcian
to pass out. Over the next few days, Attila
Attila
keeps Marcian
Marcian
hostage in the hopes of learning more about the Romans' plans. The Huns capture a local king's family and Attila
Attila
orders them killed, except for the daughter, Ilduco, whom he takes as his wife. Later, when Attila's daughter, Kubra, shows off her father's prize stallion, Marcian
Marcian
steals it and flees to Constantinople. In Constantinople, Marcian
Marcian
is befriended by General Paulinus, who confides that Theodosius is planning to join forces with the Huns against Valentinian. This is confirmed when Marcian
Marcian
brings his emperor's message to Theodosius, who throws him out. Theodosius' sister, Princess Pulcheria, calls Marcian
Marcian
to her chambers. She admits that she loves Rome, but is kept prisoner within the palace walls. She names Marcian
Marcian
the captain of her guard, asking him to protect her from Theodosius' mutiny. That night, Theodosius holds a feast to welcome the Hun leaders. Although Attila
Attila
has not been invited, he arrives to command the allegiance of all other Barbarians, and easily defeats the strongest man in Constantinople. Frightened, Theodosius offers him furs and jewels, but Attila
Attila
demands only that Marcian
Marcian
teach the Huns how to use Roman weapons. Although Kubra is the first to practice with the weapons, Marcian deposits her in the harem bathing pool. Later, Pulcheria
Pulcheria
sends for Attila. She asks him to release Marcian from his duties, but Attila
Attila
kisses her roughly and then leaves to meet Theodosius, who agrees to pay each month in return for Attila's promise not to attack. Later, Marcian
Marcian
also approaches the Hun, warning him that because Rome is Christian, it will never fall. Attila
Attila
merely laughs at him, but when Kubra visits the church the next day, she is awed by the portrait of Mary and longs for the peace she feels there. She tries to refuse to leave, but Attila
Attila
forces her to accompany the Huns out of the city. The next night, Attila
Attila
gathers the Barbarian leaders and announces that they will attack Rome immediately. As soon as his soothsayer announces that the signs are positive, a bolt of lightning strikes a tree that falls on him. Although this concerns the Huns, Attila
Attila
names it a good omen. Soon after, his men bring two captured monks to him, and Attila, who does not dare anger the Christian god, orders the soldiers killed. The monks then beg him not to kill the soldiers, baffling Attila. As the Huns gather outside Rome, Marcian, finding no help for Valentinian with Theodosius, prepares to flee the palace, but is captured upon stopping to bid Pulcheria
Pulcheria
goodbye. While Attila's new seer, whom he calls Persian, relates a vision of Marcian
Marcian
as emperor, Paulinus releases Marcian
Marcian
from the dungeon and the two sneak into Pulcheria's. Together, they decide to gather the army against Theodosius and install Pulcheria
Pulcheria
to the throne. After Theodosius is forced to abdicate, Pulcheria
Pulcheria
names Marcian
Marcian
her top admiral and announces her plans to travel to Rome with him and their army to help guard its walls. Meanwhile, Persian is plagued by visions of God and martyrs in the clouds calling for Attila's death, and Attila
Attila
remembers an image his childhood nurse saw in which he died under the shadow of a cross. Though fearful, he continues to disregard the signs. When Marcian
Marcian
reaches Rome, he finds Valentinian leaving, but retains two battalions to add to his own to protect the city. That night, Attila
Attila
orders the attack, but stops when Pope Leo I arrives to name Rome the temple of God and foresee Attila's downfall, as portended by the lightning strike. Afterward, Attila
Attila
realizes that Kubra must have told the Pope about the lightning, and, though he is heartbroken, kills her for betraying him. In his sleep that night, he sees a vision of the martyrs marching against him and, crazed, orders the Huns to retreat. Marcian
Marcian
hears and immediately plans to ambush Attila
Attila
when he reaches the nearest city. The surprise attack demolishes the Huns, who soon fall. Marcian
Marcian
finds Attila
Attila
and duels with him, but it is Ilduco, who has spent the last months overflowing with rage, who drives the fatal dagger into his chest. As prophesied, Attila
Attila
dies with the sword's handle forming the shadow of a cross on the ground. Days later, Pulcheria
Pulcheria
reunites the halves of the empire and names Marcian
Marcian
emperor, to the delight of the Roman people. Cast[edit]

Jeff Chandler as Marcian Jack Palance
Jack Palance
as Attila Ludmilla Tcherina
Ludmilla Tcherina
as Princess Pulcheria Rita Gam
Rita Gam
as Kubra Jeff Morrow as General Paulinus George Dolenz
George Dolenz
as Emperor Theodosius II Eduard Franz
Eduard Franz
as Astrologer Allison Hayes
Allison Hayes
as Ildico Alexander Scourby
Alexander Scourby
as Chrysaphius Howard Petrie as Gundahar Michael Ansara
Michael Ansara
as Edecon Leo Gordon as Bleda Moroni Olsen
Moroni Olsen
as Pope Leo I Fred Nurney as Chamberlain Sara Shane
Sara Shane
as Myra Pat Hogan as Sangiban Robo Bechi as Chilothe Charles Horvath as Olt Glenn Thompson as Seyte Chuck Robertson as Mirrai Walter Coy
Walter Coy
as Emperor Valentinian III Rusty Westcoatt as Tula Norbert Schiller as Seer

Production[edit] The film was announced by Universal in October 1953.[3] Ludmilla Tcherina was to make her dramatic debut in the film.[4] She was a ballerina who had been signed to a long term contract to Universal after a series of screen tests, including some with Jeff Chandler. Chandler was assigned the male lead and Douglas Sirk given the job of directing. The movie was going to be Universal's first using Cinemascope.[5][6] Jack Palance, then coming off a second Oscar nomination, soon signed to play Attila
Attila
the Hun. Chandler told Hedda Hopper that the role was the best he had ever had and that the movie would be Universal's most expensive of that year.[7] Jeff Morrow had a two-film-a-year deal with Universal and appeared in Sign of the Pagan
Sign of the Pagan
as the second film.[8] Allison Hayes
Allison Hayes
was a model who was spotted by the wife of Earl Warren at a party in Washington. Mrs Warren suggested she try her luck in Hollywood and she succeeded in getting a contract with Universal.[9] She played Attila's young wife; Jack Palace injured her during their love scenes.[10] Release[edit] Another film about Attila
Attila
the Hun came out around the same time, Attila, starring Anthony Quinn
Anthony Quinn
in the title role.[11] A novelisation of the script by Roger Fuller was published in 1955 in time for the film's release.[12] Proposed sequel[edit] Universal bought a script by Harold Lamb, Hannibal of Cathage as a possible sequel, to also star Jack Palance.[13] However, it was never made. References[edit]

^ 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1955', Variety Weekly, January 25, 1956 ^ Sign of the Pagan
Sign of the Pagan
at TCMDB ^ Pryor, Thomas M. (27 Oct 1953). "U-I WILL CONTINUE HEAVY FILM OUTPUT: Studio Plan 34 Features for New Year in Contrast With Rivals' Cutback Program". New York Times. p. 32.  ^ BALLERINA DOFFS SHOES FOR MOVIE: Ludmilla Tcherina
Ludmilla Tcherina
Will Make U. S. Film Debut in Dramatic Role in 'Sign of the Pagan' By THOMAS M. PRYOR Special
Special
to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 26 Nov 1953: 51. ^ Looking at Hollywood: 'Conquest of Space' to Be Film Without a Star Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune 28 Nov 1953: 15. ^ DOWLING TO MAKE FILM OF HURRICANE: Tropic Storm to Be Protagonist of Movie Seen Through Eyes of Air Force Weather Men By THOMAS M. PRYOR New York Times 28 Nov 1953: 11. ^ Drama: CinemaScope
CinemaScope
to Be Used for 'Venetian'Los Angeles Times 07 Dec 1953: A14. ^ STUDIOS EXPLAIN FILMING ABROAD: Council Lists 5 Reasons for Rise -- Cites Backgrounds, Better Financing Deals By THOMAS M. PRYOR New York Times 11 Dec 1953: 42. ^ Drama: 'Track of the Cat' Wellman's Next Film Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 12 May 1954: B8. ^ Drama: Fuller Will Direct Next Film in Britain Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 29 Jan 1954: A6. ^ Attila
Attila
Strikes Twice New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 07 Nov 1954: SM78. ^ With Toga and Gladius: SIGN OF THE PAGAN. By Roger Fuller. 373 pp. New York: Dial Press. $3.50. THOMAS CALDECOT CHUBB.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 09 Jan 1955: BR23. ^ Drama: 'Hannibal of Carthage' Epical Project; Diana Lynn, Corey Stage Team Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 17 Mar 1954: 19.

External links[edit]

Sign of the Pagan
Sign of the Pagan
on IMDb Sign of the Pagan
Sign of the Pagan
at TCMDB Sign of the Pagan
Sign of the Pagan
film clip on YouTube

v t e

Films directed by Douglas Sirk

't Was één April (1936) The Court Concert
The Court Concert
(1936) To New Shores (1937) La Habanera (1937) Wilton's Zoo (1939) Hitler's Madman
Hitler's Madman
(1943) Summer Storm (1944) A Scandal in Paris
A Scandal in Paris
(1946) Lured
Lured
(1947) Sleep, My Love (1948) Shockproof
Shockproof
(1949) The First Legion
The First Legion
(1951) Thunder on the Hill
Thunder on the Hill
(1951) The Lady Pays Off (1951) Week-End with Father
Week-End with Father
(1951) No Room for the Groom
No Room for the Groom
(1952) Has Anybody Seen My Gal? (1952) Meet Me at the Fair (1953) Take Me to Town (1953) All I Desire
All I Desire
(1953) Taza, Son of Cochise
Taza, Son of Cochise
(1954) Magnificent Obsession (1954) Sign of the Pagan
Sign of the Pagan
(1954) Captain Lightfoot
Captain Lightfoot
(1955) All That Heaven Allows
All That Heaven Allows
(1955) There's Always Tomorrow (1956) Never Say Goodbye (1956) Written on the Wind
Written on the Wind
(1956) Battle Hymn (1957) Interlude (1957) The Tarnished Angels
The Tarnished Angels
(1958) A Time to Love and a Time to Die
A Time to Love and a Time to Die
(1958) Imitat

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