6.6/10
6,506
100 user 27 critic

The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965)

The life of Jesus Christ.

Directors:

, (uncredited) | 1 more credit »

Writers:

(book), (source writings) | 2 more credits »
Reviews

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. 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
The Robe (1953)
Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

In the Roman province of Judea during the 1st century, Roman tribune Marcellus Gallio is ordered to crucify Jesus of Nazareth but is tormented by his guilty conscience afterwards.

Director: Henry Koster
Stars: Richard Burton, Jean Simmons, Victor Mature
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Extravagant production of the first part of the book of Genesis. Covers Adam and Eve, Noah and the Flood and Abraham and Isaac.

Director: John Huston
Stars: Michael Parks, Ulla Bergryd, Richard Harris
Barabbas (1961)
Adventure | Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Barabbas, the criminal that Pontius Pilate induced the populace to vote to set free, so that Christ could be crucified, is haunted by the image of Jesus for the rest of his life.

Director: Richard Fleischer
Stars: Anthony Quinn, Silvana Mangano, Arthur Kennedy
Adventure | Biography | 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
Quo Vadis (1951)
Certificate: Passed Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A fierce Roman commander becomes infatuated with a beautiful Christian hostage and begins questioning the tyrannical leadership of the despot Emperor Nero.

Directors: Mervyn LeRoy, Anthony Mann
Stars: Robert Taylor, Deborah Kerr, Leo Genn
El Cid (1961)
Adventure | Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

The fabled Spanish hero Rodrigo Diaz (a.k.a. El Cid) overcomes a family vendetta and court intrigue to defend Christian Spain against the Moors.

Director: Anthony Mann
Stars: Charlton Heston, Sophia Loren, Raf Vallone
Action | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

In 1st century Rome, Christian slave Demetrius is sent to fight in the gladiatorial arena and Emperor Caligula seeks Jesus' robe for its supposedly magical powers.

Director: Delmer Daves
Stars: Victor Mature, Susan Hayward, Michael Rennie
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

Beginning before the Nativity and extending through the Crucifixion and Ressurection, JESUS OF NAZARETH brings to life all the sweeping drama in the life of Jesus, as told by the Gospels.

Stars: Robert Powell, Olivia Hussey, Laurence Olivier
Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

The death of Marcus Aurelius leads to a succession crisis, in which the deceased emperor's son, Commodus, demonstrates that he is unwilling to let anything undermine his claim to the Roman Empire.

Director: Anthony Mann
Stars: Sophia Loren, Stephen Boyd, Alec Guinness
Cleopatra (1963)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Historical epic. The triumphs and tragedy of the Egyptian queen, Cleopatra.

Directors: Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Rouben Mamoulian, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Rex Harrison
Adventure | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

When strongman Samson rejects the love of the beautiful Philistine woman Delilah, she seeks vengeance that brings horrible consequences they both regret.

Director: Cecil B. DeMille
Stars: Hedy Lamarr, Victor Mature, George Sanders
Edit

Cast

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

Storyline

"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. 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  »

Filming Locations:

 »

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:

(RCA Sound Recording) (5.0) (L-R)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.76 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Director George Stevens shot The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) in the American Southwest, in Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah. Pyramid Lake in Nevada represented the Sea of Galilee, Lake Moab in Utah was used to film the Sermon on the Mount, and California's Death Valley was the setting of Jesus' 40-day journey into the wilderness. Stevens explained his decision to use the United States rather than in the Middle East or Europe in 1962. "I wanted to get an effect of grandeur as a background to Christ, and none of the Holy Land areas shape up with the excitement of the American Southwest," he said. "I know that Colorado is not the Jordan, nor is Southern Utah Palestine. But our intention is to romanticize the area and it can be done better here." Forty-seven sets were constructed, on location and in Hollywood studios, to accommodate Stevens' vision. See more »

Goofs

After Jesus brings Lazarus back from the dead, three men run to a castle on a hill to announce the miracles that Jesus has performed. In the long shot, the first man runs up to the castle entrance into the shade. The shade disappears and reappears between shots. See more »

Quotes

[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 »


Soundtracks

Hallelujah Chorus
(uncredited)
from "The Messiah"
Music by George Frideric Handel
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.


15 of 19 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
In the context of this film, why did Judas betray Jesus ? shipagan
So what casting worked and did NOT work? angmc43
John Wayne = hysterical eganp-1
Question for Catholics shandae77
Judas suicide paulbacigalupi
Most academy awards w-godzich
Discuss The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page