Camping it Up as Nero: Charles Laughton in The Sign of the Cross (De Mille, 19320

As you can see  below from the dark muscleman by his side and the peeling of he flower petals, Nero is coded as homosexual in De Mille’s Sign of the Cross.  Charles Laughton gives an extraordinary performance which is at once restrained AND floridly camp. Out of relative stillness blooms just the right ‘too-much’ gesture and then it settles as if in a photograph. It’s quite extraordinary to see.

Some more frame enlargements below:

José Arroyo

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