First Legion

One of Sirk’s most unusual and explicitly philosophical films, this adaptation of Emmet Lavery’s 1934 play centers on a Jesuit seminary where an apparent miracle draws hordes of hysterical supplicants and sparks an internal debate over the validity of the alleged visitation. Working in a very different vein from the baroque flamboyance of his later color melodramas (Written on the Wind, All That Heaven Allows), Sirk’s deep-focus black-and-white style keeps skepticism and faith in a delicate balance. Anchored by Charles Boyer’s superb performance as a lawyer-priest whose integrity turns him into a reluctant detective, the excellent cast includes William Demarest in an unusually substantial and moving role as the go-to parish sorehead, and little-remembered character actor Lyle Bettger as an intriguing, agnostic antihero.

Preservation funding provided by The Louis B. Mayer Foundation and The Carl David Memorial Fund for Film Preservation. 

Genres: Drama