MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Up 1,155 this week

The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965)

 -  Biography | Drama | History  -  9 April 1965 (UK)
6.5
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.5/10 from 5,459 users  
Reviews: 92 user | 24 critic

The life of Jesus Christ.

Directors:

, (uncredited) , 1 more credit »

Writers:

(book), (source writings), 3 more credits »
0Check in
0Share...

Watch Now

with Prime Instant Video

Editors' Spotlight

Fall TV Premiere Week

Many of your favorite shows are coming back, along with plenty of series premieres. Here's a list of the shows premiering between Sunday, September 21 and Friday, September 26.


User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 40 titles
created 09 Jul 2011
 
a list of 42 titles
created 26 Jan 2013
 
a list of 25 titles
created 30 Apr 2013
 
a list of 21 titles
created 20 May 2013
 
a list of 42 titles
created 10 months ago
 

Related Items


Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965)

The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) on IMDb 6.5/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of The Greatest Story Ever Told.

User Polls

Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 2 wins. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

King of Kings (1961)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The life of Jesus Christ.

Director: Nicholas Ray
Stars: Jeffrey Hunter, Siobhan McKenna, Hurd Hatfield
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  

A reverent depiction of the life of Christ using the Gospel accounts.

Stars: Robert Powell, Olivia Hussey, Laurence Olivier
Madeleine (1950)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

The middle-class family of a young woman cannot understand why she delays in marrying a respectable young man. They know nothing about her long-standing affair with a Frenchman.

Director: David Lean
Stars: Ann Todd, Norman Wooland, Ivan Desny
Drama | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Fictionalized story of British aerospace engineers solving the problem of supersonic flight.

Director: David Lean
Stars: Ralph Richardson, Ann Todd, Nigel Patrick
Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Set in the wake of the 1916 Easter Rising, a married woman in a small Irish village has an affair with a troubled British officer.

Director: David Lean
Stars: Robert Mitchum, Trevor Howard, John Mills
Summertime (1955)
Romance | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A lonely American woman unexpectedly finds romance in Venice, Italy.

Director: David Lean
Stars: Katharine Hepburn, Rossano Brazzi, Isa Miranda
Adventure | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Cultural mistrust and false accusations doom a friendship in British colonial India between an Indian doctor, an Englishwoman engaged to marry a city magistrate, and an English educator.

Director: David Lean
Stars: Judy Davis, Victor Banerjee, Peggy Ashcroft
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

The Passionate Friends were in love when young, but separated, and she married an older man. Then Mary Justin meets Steven Stratton again and they have one last fling together in the Alps.

Director: David Lean
Stars: Ann Todd, Trevor Howard, Claude Rains
Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

The Egyptian Prince, Moses, learns of his true heritage as a Hebrew and his divine mission as the deliverer of his people.

Director: Cecil B. DeMille
Stars: Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Noel Coward's attempt to show how the ordinary people lived between the wars. Just after WWI the Gibbons family moves to a nice house in the suburbs. An ordinary sort of life is led by the ... See full summary »

Director: David Lean
Stars: Robert Newton, Celia Johnson, Amy Veness
Blithe Spirit (1945)
Comedy | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Adapted from a play by Noel Coward, Charles and his second wife Ruth, are haunted by the ghost of his first wife, Elvira. Medium Madame Arcati tries to help things out by contacting the ghost.

Director: David Lean
Stars: Rex Harrison, Constance Cummings, Kay Hammond
Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Filmmaker David Lean is scouting locations in Tahiti for a feature film about the famous mutiny on the HMS Bounty. His property master, Eddie Fowlie, discovers the whereabouts of an anchor ... See full summary »

Director: David Lean
Stars: Robert Bolt, Eddie Fowlie, David Lean
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Ina Balin ...
...
...
Joanna Dunham ...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
Edit

Storyline

George Stevens' epic production. "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?" It is towards this climactic crossroads that the story of Jesus of Nazareth leads, and to which, at the final moment, it again looks back in triumphant retrospect. It is the anguishing crossroads where the eternal questions of faith and doubt become resolved. Star-studded cast includes Max Von Sydow (as Jesus), Dorothy McGuire (as Mary), Robert Loggia (as Joseph), Charlton Heston (as John the Baptist), Michael Anderson, Jr., Robert Blake, Jamie Farr, David McCallum, Roddy McDowall, Ina Balin, Janet Margolin, Sidney Poitier, Carroll Baker, Pat Boone, Van Heflin, Sal Mineo, Shelley Winters, Ed Wynn, John Wayne, Telly Savalas, Angela Lansbury, Paul Stewart, Harold J. Stone, Martin Landau, Joseph Schildkraut, Victor Buono, Jose Ferrer, Claude Rains, Donald Pleasence, Richard Conte and Cyril Delevanti. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

9 April 1965 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

George Stevens Presents The Greatest Story Ever Told  »

Box Office

Budget:

$20,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$8,000,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(edited) | (re-issue) | (premiere)

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints) (Westrex Recording System)| (35 mm prints)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.76 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Final film of cinematographer William C. Mellor. He suffered a heart attack, collapsed and died on the set. See more »

Goofs

Differences from the Bible accounts, and other historical inaccuracies, are not being counted as goofs, especially when they're reliant on sectarian traditions or Renaissance/Baroque art. See more »

Quotes

Narrator: [first lines]
Narrator: In the beginning was the word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. I am He. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him, was made nothing that has been made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of man. And the light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness grasped it not. The greatest story ever told...
See more »

Connections

Version of The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964) See more »

Soundtracks

Requiem
Music by Giuseppi Verdi
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Somewhat flawed, but imposing nonetheless
23 October 2003 | by (San Gabriel, Ca., USA) – See all my reviews

Without a doubt, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most difficult story to ever put on the screen. More blood and ink have been spilled over this one man than any other human being that ever walked this planet, so there really can't be a definitive film on his life that will satisfy everyone. But during the first half of the 1960s, director George Stevens (A PLACE IN THE SUN; SHANE; GIANT) toiled to at least come close in that regard. The result was THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD. At a cost of twenty million dollars, it was one of the most expensive films Hollywood had released in that era. At an original length of four hours and twenty minutes, it was one of the longest movies ever. It was also critically savaged and was only a modest commercial success, though not an expensive flop like CLEOPATRA had been.

Although it doesn't stick to ALL the facts of the Good Book, GREATEST STORY does an exquisite job at depicting Jesus life and persecution, his miracles, his death, and his eventual resurrection. Utilizing a massive tome of a script that he co-wrote with James Lee Barrett and Carl Sandburg, among others, Stevens filmed much of the film on location in the Glen Canyon region along the Arizona/Utah border, with the Colorado River as a stand-in for the River Jordan (a move for which Stevens was sharply criticized). Aided by veteran cameraman Loyal Griggs (THE TEN COMMANDMENTS), he also shot scenes in this movie that must rank as being among the most brilliantly filmed ever, including Lazarus' resurrection, and Jesus' being baptized in the River Jordan by John the Baptist.

One particular aspect about GREATEST STORY that continues to raise eyebrows and much ire to this day is the fact that Stevens cast much of Hollywood's acting elite in what were essentially walk-ons. This tactic had been done extensively before (THE LONGEST DAY; HOW THE WEST WAS WON), and would be done countless more times in the ensuing decades. To me, the flaw in this technique insofar as this movie goes is not the fact that Stevens succumbed to that temptation, but the fact that the roles he placed some of his actors in were ones they probably weren't cut out to play.

Given the whole weight of the world being placed on him, Max von Sydow did quite an impressive portrayal of Jesus in this film. I would have to rank this as one of the single greatest performances in cinematic history; his credibility (even with the Swedish accent) in the role is, to me, unimpeachable. Stevens also scored by giving Charlton Heston (no stranger to Biblical epics he) the role of John the Baptist, and it still ranks as one of Heston's best. Telly Savalas, years away from "Kojak", makes for a chilling Pontius Pilate. Claude Rains is a supremely nasty King Herod; and Donald Pleasance, with HALLOWEEN still a decade and a half in his future, makes for a deliciously unpleasant Satan.

In other areas, Stevens' all-star casting ranges from sublime (Dorothy McGuire; Roddy McDowall; Sidney Poitier; David McCallum; Jose Ferrer; Victor Buono) to strange (Russell Johnson; Jamie Farr; Sal Mineo; Shelley Winters). But it is in his casting of John Wayne as a Roman centurion at the Crucifixtion that Stevens went overboard (thus the reason for my giving GREATEST STORY an '8' rather than a '10'). To this day, it's hard not to notice the Duke looking out of place as a Roman, and harder still not to groan at the flat way he utters his line ("Truly, this man was the Son of God").

Still, despite the slightly questionable casting and the obvious extreme length of the film, Stevens has indeed fashioned as great a film as there has ever been on a story that has fascinated, frustrated, and even torn the world apart for over two thousand years. How others view it is up for themselves to decide. I myself think that, though slightly imperfect, THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD still lives up to its title.


14 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
So what casting worked and did NOT work? angmc43
John Wayne = hysterical eganp-1
Judas suicide paulbacigalupi
Question for Catholics shandae77
Most academy awards w-godzich
Is that Frankenstein's Monster... ibotter
Discuss The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page