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Sign Of The Pagan (1954, Jack Palance, Jeff Chandler)

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Douglas Sirk fled Nazi Germany in the late 30s, changing his name from Hans Detlef Sierck to one more acceptable in Hollywood. He went on to become one of the industry’s most famous and influential directors in the 40s and 50s, but Sign of the Pagan was a rare foray into historical drama.

Jack Palance plays Atilla the Hun, sweeping all before him as he advances on Rome. Jeff Chandler co-stars as the Roman general Marcian, charged with halting his assault by Princess Pulcheria (Ludmilla Tcherina, a French ballet dancer whose voice was dubbed by an anonymous American actress). But as the heathens advance to the very gates of the Imperial City, it is not the force of arms that turns them back but a much higher power…

Palance, already an established name thanks to Panic in the Streets and Shane, played his role to the hilt, somewhat overshadowing the rest of the cast, but the film is notable for its battle sequences. Before CGI could populate the shores of Troy with thousands, Sirk used hundreds of extras to great effect and film fans will enjoy seeing Attila’s nemesis, his slave wife Iloico (Allison Hayes), before she found fame in the cult B-movie Attack of the 50 Foot Woman.

production details
USA | 92 minutes | 1954

Director: Douglas Sirk
Script: Barré Lyndon, Oscar Brodney,

cast
Jeff Chandler as Marcian
Leo Gordon as Bleda
Moroni Olsen as Pope Leo I
Jack Palance as Attila
Howard Petrie as Gundahar
Eduard Franz as Astrologer
Ludmilla Tchérina as Princess Pulcheria
Rita Gam as Kubra
Jeff Morrow as General Paulinus
George Dolenz as Emperor Theodosius
Allison Hayes as Ildico
Alexander Scourby as Chrysaphius
Michael Ansara as Edecon
Fred Nurney as Chamberlain
Pat Hogan as Sangiban
Sara Shane as Myra
Robert Bice as Chilothe