Sirk’s fatalistic vision drives this fascinatingly dark, doom-laden sword-and-sandal saga. Jack Palance delivers a commanding performance as Attila the Hun, who sets out to topple the Roman Empire—but is haunted at every turn by ominous signs and prophecies (with the Christian cross acting as a particularly potent harbinger of death). Sirk’s Attila is part of a long line of rebellious, unpredictable central characters (company that includes Dorothy Malone’s nymphomaniac in Written on the Wind and Imitation of Life’s Sarah Jane), whose volatile presence has the power to destabilize everything around them. Print courtesy of Academy Film Archive.
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