One of Sirk’s first masterpieces is also one of his most sincere, deeply felt works. Charles Boyer stars among a motley crew of character actors (including William Demarest and Leo G. Carroll) as a trial lawyer turned priest living in a Jesuit monastery. When he witnesses what may be a miracle, it precipitates a crisis of doubt as he tries to come to terms with what he saw. A subtle, absorbing meditation on faith vs. reason, The First Legion finds Sirk adopting an appropriately stripped-down, ascetic visual style (though he makes the most of the monastery’s mazelike interior). The transcendent climax is as moving a moment of grace as has ever been put on film, giving lie to the notion of Sirk as a strictly ironic filmmaker.
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