The First Legion


The First Legion is a 1951 American drama film directed by Douglas Sirk and written by Emmet Lavery. The film stars Charles Boyer, William Demarest, Lyle Bettger, Walter Hampden, Barbara Rush, Wesley Addy, H. B. Warner and Leo G. Carroll. The film was released on April 27, 1951, by United Artists.[1][2] The film was based on Lavery's play of the same name, which opened on Broadway at the 46th Street Theatre on October 1, 1934.[3] The play, which had no female characters, moved to the Biltmore Theater where it closed January 5, 1935.[4][5]

The First Legion
The First Legion poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDouglas Sirk
Screenplay byEmmet Lavery
Based onThe First Legion
by Emmet Lavery
Produced byDouglas Sirk
StarringCharles Boyer
William Demarest
Lyle Bettger
Walter Hampden
Barbara Rush
Wesley Addy
H. B. Warner
Leo G. Carroll
CinematographyRobert De Grasse
Edited byFrancis D. Lyon
Music byHans Sommer
Sédif Productions
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • April 27, 1951 (1951-04-27)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States
The First Legion


Fr. John Fulton, a Jesuit instructor in a seminary school, feels he has lost his vocation. A talk with his friend Fr. Marc Arnoux is no help. But on the night he plans to leave the seminary (and the Order) his old teacher Fr. Jose Sierra miraculously gets up and walks, to tell him to stay. The young, wheelchair-using neighbor Terry Gilmartin regains hope a similar miracle might allow her to walk; her physician, Dr. Peter Morrell, the same one who attended Fr. Sierra, and who is in love with Terry, confesses that he had engineered Sierra's miraculous recovery, to Fr. Arnoux, but refuses his advice to tell the truth. The Jesuit seminary rector orders Fr. Arnoux to plead the validity of the miracle before the Vatican, in Rome. When his highly respected subordinate refuses, the rector dies of a heart attack. At that point Dr. Morrell admits his deception, in particular to Terry, who goes to the seminary chapel and, miraculously, gets out of her wheelchair, at the moment she prays for Dr. Morrell.


The film was financed by Charles Boyer,[6] for whom the original play's character of Father Aherne was renamed to Father Arnoux, to account for Boyer's French accent.[7] Filming took place at the Mission Inn, Riverside, California, during May and June 1950.[7] Director Douglas Sirk had the Spanish Art Gallery at the Inn converted into a seminary common room; bedrooms above the gallery were staged to represent the priests' cells.[7] The St. Francis chapel and atrium, the Mission's original cloister walk, and the monk's music room were also used for filming.[8] The cast and crew, totaling fifty, lived at the Mission Inn while filming.[8] Sound recording was done with magnetic tape, until then a rarity on location.[8]



The film was restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive, with funding provided by The Louis B. Mayer Foundation and The Carl David Memorial Fund for Film Preservation; the restoration was publicly screened in March 2015.[9][10]


  1. ^ "The First Legion (1951) - Overview -". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  2. ^ "The First Legion". TV Guide. Retrieved 19 October 2014.
  3. ^ "Lavery Is Accorded Ovation As Play Opens in New York". Poughkeepsie Eagle-News. Poughkeepsie, New York. October 2, 1934. p. 1 – via
  4. ^ "Moving Day: Miracle Play Travels From 46th to 47th St". Daily News. New York, New York. October 29, 1934. p. 39 – via
  5. ^ "Drama News". Times Union. Brooklyn, New York. January 2, 1935. p. 16 – via
  6. ^ Cameron, Kate (January 21, 1951). "Independents Are Active". Daily News. New York, New York. p. 94 – via
  7. ^ a b c Mooring, William H. (May 26, 1950). "Lavery's 'First Legion' Now Before Cameras". The Tidings. Los Angeles, California. p. 29 – via
  8. ^ a b c Scheuer, Philip K. (June 4, 1950). "Hollywood Discovers Famed Mission Inn". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California. p. 101 – via
  9. ^ "The First Legion / Journey into Light [programme note]". UCLA Film & Television Archive. 2015. Retrieved 2016-03-12.
  10. ^ Kenneth Turan (2015-02-27). "UCLA film festival a fascinating window into our cinematic past". Retrieved 2016-03-12.

External linksEdit

  • The First Legion at IMDb
  • The First Legion on YT