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The Story of Mankind (1957)

4.9
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Ratings: 4.9/10 from 719 users  
Reviews: 27 user | 10 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

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

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 <pepe@prince.pe.u-tokyo.ac.jp>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Drama | Fantasy | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

8 November 1957 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A História da Humanidade  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When Ronald Colman was asked if the film was based on a book, he replied, "Yes. But they are using only the notes on the dust jacket." See more »

Quotes

Antony: Cleopatra, my love! Why did you turn your ship from the fight? All your galleys have scattered - run before the foe - and just when the battle was almost won!
Cleopatra: I believed the battle was lost. Oh, do not blame me - what do I know of war?
Antony: But what about love - ours? If the worst came, we had sworn to die together.
Cleopatra: Aren't we together now, Antony?
Antony: With shame on our names.
Cleopatra: But with love for each other in our hearts. Believe me, my galley is swift. The Romans will not catch us. Come close to me, ...
See more »

Connections

Edited from King Richard and the Crusaders (1954) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
THE STORY OF MANKIND (Irwin Allen, 1957) **
17 December 2008 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

The opening titles of this historical epic – one of the most notoriously misjudged films in Hollywood history – boast no fewer than 25 stars but, having personally gone through it, I have to say that its reputation is entirely justified! I'd always been interested in it, of course, yet I'd practically given up hope of ever catching the film…and, eventually, I only managed to come across a soft-looking, panned-and-scanned VHS copy with forced Spanish subtitles (which will more than suffice under the circumstances).

Actually, the central premise isn't half-bad – a tribunal in outer space(!), presided over by Sir Cedric Hardwicke, convenes to determine whether mankind should be allowed to go on living or else let it obliterate itself via the misuse of nuclear weapons! In fact, the opening half-hour or so is fairly decent but, as soon as one realizes that the film will be a constant parade of Hollywood stars stolidly appearing (portraying is hardly the correct term to use here) as famous historical figures – who are subsequently given little of consequence to do – it becomes a depressing, repetitive and altogether rather dull charade!

At least, the main roles of The Spirit Of Man (a suave and gracefully aged Ronald Colman in his last film) and Mr. Scratch aka The Devil (a typically genial turn by Vincent Price) are ideally filled – something which, alas, can't be said of most of their colleagues: Hardwicke himself merely gets in a few inane phrases between Colman and Price's rebuttals, but, for good measure, we also have to contend with John Carradine (as a campily-dressed Pharaoh), Peter Lorre (as a thoroughly miserable Nero, which is ironic given that the role had often inspired actors towards hamminess!), Virginia Mayo (unrecognizable as Cleopatra), Hedy Lamarr (an embarrassingly miscast Joan of Arc), Dennis Hopper (as a wimpy Napoleon Bonaparte!) and, surely the weirdest casting choice of all, the Marx Brothers (appearing in their final team effort, albeit separately: Chico barely registers as a monk in the Christopher Columbus episode, Groucho incongruously appearing fully in character, with glasses and wisecracks intact[!], as obscure American Pilgrim Peter Minuit, and Harpo, ditto, as a mute and harp-playing Sir Isaac Newton)!!

The various re-enactments (amidst which Colman and Price are free to roam) display a rampant use of stock footage – thus making the film seem more expensive than it actually is – and naturally end with the present i.e. 1957 crisis; in hindsight, the script's constant reference to the "Super H-bomb" is amusing and dates the show more than anything else! At a mere 100 minutes, such an ambitious enterprise was doomed from the start and, indeed, it feels too much like a crash-course in World History (intercut with elementary bits of Philosophy). Perhaps, the kindest thing that can be said about THE STORY OF MANKIND is that, for better or worse, it did pave the way for Irwin Allen's heyday as a producer of star-studded Hollywood blockbusters.


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