Reviewed by JONATHAN LEWIS:         

SIGN OF THE PAGAN. Universal International, 1954. Jeff Chandler, Jack Palance, Ludmilla Tchérina, Rita Gam, Jeff Morrow, George Dolenz, Eduard Franz, Allison Hayes, Alexander Scourby. Screenplay: Oscar Brodney & Barré Lyndon. Director: Douglas Sirk.

   I had somewhat higher hopes for Sign of the Pagan. I like Douglas Sirk as a director, and I greatly appreciate both Jeff Chandler and Jack Palance as actors who worked well in different genres. The way the two actors play off each other’s strengths in Robert Aldrich’s idiosyncratic war film, Ten Seconds To Hell (1959), however, simply doesn’t exist in this middling costumer.

   Although it’s an overall forgettable film, Sign of the Pagan does open strongly, transporting the viewer to a mystical past, an era of Romans, Byzantines, and Huns. Palance portrays Attila, whose thirst for power and glory knows no bounds. Opposing him is a Roman centurion portrayed by Chandler. There are costumes a plenty and an atmosphere, although stagey, of intrigue. But the magic doesn’t last.

   For a film whose poster promises a lot of action and adventure, the movie is remarkably talky. One has to sit through a lot of scenes involving court intrigue and Attila’s fretting about whether or not to attempt to conquer Rome before finally arriving at a final battle sequence which, while enjoyable enough to watch, is simply not long or elaborate enough to make up for a lot of empty dialogue that preceded it.