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The First Legion

Something of an oddity in the Sirk canon, in that it was shot on location and is unusually static and talky. It concerns various crises of religious faith suffered by a number of priests in a Jesuit seminary; Sirk admitted that he wanted to push it towards comedy, since the subject as he saw it related religion to the absurd, namely a bogus 'miracle', performed by an atheist doctor on a crippled priest, which revives belief among the brotherhood. The film, it must be said, is not one of the director's best; his interest in his material seems academic rather than inspired, and there's scant evidence of the irony that informs his finest work. Even so, the performances are generally very impressive (perhaps most notably Demarest, cast against type) and the film is for the most part free of the winsome pieties commonly found in Hollywood films dealing with devotion and divine mystery.

Release details

Duration: 86 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Douglas Sirk
Screenwriter: Emmet Lavery
Cast: Charles Boyer
William Demarest
Lyle Bettger
Barbara Rush
Leo G Carroll
HB Warner
George Zucco
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