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The Story of Mankind (1957)

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Ratings: 4.9/10 from 595 users  
Reviews: 25 user | 9 critic

The devil and the spirit of mankind argue as to whether or not humanity is ultimately good or evil.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
The Spirit of Man
High Judge
Spanish Envoy
Marie Wilson ...


The council of elders of outer space is deliberating on a very important subject: Must mankind be allowed to survive, or is it so esentially evil that it must be destroyed? A devil and an angel act as prosecutor and defense for the human race, and the movie presents in a very interesting way a series of episodes of the human history. What will be the final veredict? Innocent, or Guilty? Written by Jose Beltran-Escavy <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

devil | court | cleopatra | moses | evidence | See more »


No Greater Cast Ever! Rarely So Vast An Undertaking! See more »


Drama | Fantasy | Sci-Fi


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Release Date:

8 November 1957 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Story of Mankind  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Towards the end, they ask "Mr. Scratch" to sum up his case; Scratch, Old Scratch, and Mr. Scratch were nicknames for the devil. See more »


First Angel: This story here in the newspaper... Some devilish fellow down on Earth has actually discovered the secret of the super H-bomb!
Second Angel: That's impossible! The super H-bomb is not scheduled for invention by the Devil until the year... let's see... until... here it is... 2016. Why, they're not ready or wise enough to handle it yet. According to our heavenly statistics, if exploded now, the bomb would blow Man and his Earth sky-high. No one would be left alive. Everyone would be dead.
First Angel: My, my, the housing ...
See more »


Edited from Dodge City (1939) See more »

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User Reviews

A mess, but it is a mess worth seeing
27 March 2011 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The Story of Mankind when I saw it was a movie I initially found difficult to rate. Mainly because it is a big mess. Having said that somewhat, it is a mess that is worth seeing.

The production values are hardly high art, but they are decent. The sets are okay, the costumes are interesting and the cinematography is not exceptional but not exactly cheap either. I liked the premise as well, and it started off decently with Sir Cedric Hardwicke presiding over things nicely. There is also some good performances. Ronald Colman gives far from his best performance, but he is very suave and convincing, Marie Antoinette is nicely coquettish and Agnes Moorhead chews the scenery with glee. It was also nice to see the Marx Brothers, Harpo and Chico aren't really that funny but Groucho is though there was the odd moment not to do with Groucho more to do with the writing and the way the characters were written that came across as more offensive than amusing. Best is Vincent Price, with his powerful voice and magnetic presence, he is gleefully wicked.

However, the direction falls flat as if it is unsure of which direction to go whether it wanted to be a history lesson or an exercise in camp. The dialogue is mostly absolutely abysmal, but it is so hard not to laugh at how bad it is. The film goes at an uneven pace with some segments faster than others or better acted and written. The characters are little more than stereotypes and caricatures and badly explored ones at that, and there are some unintentionally hilarious ideas incorporated into the story especially with Joan of Arc. I liked the leads and Moorhead and Groucho, but the rest of the cast are just bizarre. Peter Lorre though isn't too bad, perhaps too young and somewhat too effeminate too but there are some moments of unexpected poignancy, but Hedy Lamarr is woefully miscast as Joan of Arc and a very over-the-top Dennis Hopper does nothing with the role of Napolean.

Overall, The Story of Mankind is a mess, but it was worth watching and I personally wouldn't put it on my worst movies ever list. 4/10 Bethany Cox

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