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The Greatest Story Ever Told
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The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) More at IMDbPro »

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Overview

User Rating:
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Writers:
Fulton Oursler (book)
Henry Denker (source writings)
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for The Greatest Story Ever Told on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
9 April 1965 (UK) See more »
Genre:
Plot:
The life of Jesus Christ. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Awards:
Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 1 win See more »
User Reviews:
von Sydow Struggles Under Greatest Role Ever Played See more (92 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Max von Sydow ... Jesus

Michael Anderson Jr. ... James the Younger

Carroll Baker ... Veronica
Ina Balin ... Martha of Bethany

Victor Buono ... Sorak

Richard Conte ... Barabbas
Joanna Dunham ... Mary Magdalene

José Ferrer ... Herod Antipas

Van Heflin ... Bar Amand

Charlton Heston ... John the Baptist

Martin Landau ... Caiaphas

Angela Lansbury ... Claudia

Pat Boone ... Angel at the Tomb

Janet Margolin ... Mary of Bethany

David McCallum ... Judas Iscariot

Roddy McDowall ... Matthew

Dorothy McGuire ... The Virgin Mary

Sal Mineo ... Uriah

Nehemiah Persoff ... Shemiah

Donald Pleasence ... The Dark Hermit - Satan

Sidney Poitier ... Simon of Cyrene

Claude Rains ... King Herod

Gary Raymond ... Peter

Telly Savalas ... Pontius Pilate

Joseph Schildkraut ... Nicodemus

Paul Stewart ... Questor

John Wayne ... Centurion at crucifixion

Shelley Winters ... Woman who is healed

Ed Wynn ... Old Aram

John Abbott ... Aben
Rodolfo Acosta ... Captain of lancers

Michael Ansara ... Herod's commander

Robert Blake ... Simon the Zealot
Burt Brinckerhoff ... Andrew
Robert Busch ... Emissary

John Considine ... John
Philip Coolidge ... Chuza
John Crawford ... Alexander

Frank DeKova ... The tormentor (as Frank de Kova)
Cyril Delevanti ... Melchior

Jamie Farr ... Thaddaeus

David Hedison ... Philip

Russell Johnson ... Scribe

Mark Lenard ... Balthazar

Robert Loggia ... Joseph
John Lupton ... Speaker of Capernaum
Peter Mann ... Nathanael

Tom Reese ... Thomas

Marian Seldes ... Herodias

David Sheiner ... James the Elder
Frank Silvera ... Caspar

Joseph Sirola ... Dumah

Abraham Sofaer ... Joseph of Arimathaea

Harold J. Stone ... Gen. Varus
Chet Stratton ... Theophilus

Michael Tolan ... Lazarus
Ron Whelan ... Annas
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Richard Bakalyan ... Good Thief on Cross (uncredited)

Nesdon Booth ... (uncredited)
Marc Cavell ... Bad Thief on Cross (uncredited)

Jay C. Flippen ... Drunken Soldier - Herod Antipas' Court (uncredited)
Kay Hammond ... (uncredited)
Dal Jenkins ... Philip (uncredited)
Kyle Johnson ... Simon of Cyrene's Son (uncredited)
Felix Locher ... Elderly Man Who Touches Jesus (uncredited)

Celia Lovsky ... Woman Behind Railings (uncredited)
Victor Lundin ... Centurion Guard (uncredited)
Leonard Mudie ... Man (uncredited)
Dorothy Neumann ... (uncredited)
Gil Perkins ... Jacob of Bethlehem (uncredited)
Joseph V. Perry ... Archelaus (uncredited)
John Pickard ... Peter's Accuser #2 (uncredited)
Frank Richards ... (uncredited)
Gene Roth ... (uncredited)
Johnny Seven ... Pilate's Aide (uncredited)
Mickey Simpson ... Rabble-Rouser (uncredited)
Norm Taylor ... Roman Soldier at Crucifixion (uncredited)
Randall Taylor ... Male Baby Extra (uncredited)
Renata Vanni ... Weeping Woman (uncredited)

Ronald Walkshorse ... Male Child Extra (uncredited)
Harry Wilson ... (uncredited)
Jimmy Yates ... Herodian Guard (uncredited)
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Directed by
George Stevens 
David Lean (some scenes) (uncredited)
Jean Negulesco (some scenes) (uncredited)
 
Writing credits
Fulton Oursler (book)

Henry Denker (source writings)

James Lee Barrett (screenplay) and
George Stevens (screenplay)

Carl Sandburg  uncredited

Produced by
Frank I. Davis .... executive producer
George Stevens Jr. .... associate producer
George Stevens .... producer
Antonio Vellani .... associate producer
 
Original Music by
Alfred Newman 
 
Cinematography by
Loyal Griggs 
William C. Mellor 
 
Film Editing by
Harold F. Kress 
Argyle Nelson Jr. 
J. Frank O'Neill  (as Frank O'Neil)
 
Casting by
Lynn Stalmaster 
 
Art Direction by
William J. Creber  (as William Creber)
Richard Day 
David S. Hall  (as David Hall)
 
Set Decoration by
Fred M. MacLean  (as Fred MacLean)
Ray Moyer 
Norman Rockett 
 
Costume Design by
Marjorie Best 
Vittorio Nino Novarese 
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Paul Baxley .... second unit director
Ridgeway Callow .... assistant director
William Hale .... second unit director
Richard Talmadge .... second unit director
John Veitch .... assistant director
 
Art Department
Sam Gordon .... property master
 
Sound Department
Charles E. Wallace .... sound
 
Special Effects by
Johnny Borgese .... special effects
Daniel Hays .... special effects (uncredited)
 
Visual Effects by
A. Arnold Gillespie .... special visual effects
Robert R. Hoag .... special visual effects
J. McMillan Johnson .... special visual effects
Clarence Slifer .... special visual effects
Jan Domela .... matte painter (uncredited)
Cliff Shirpser .... effects camera operator (uncredited)
Albert Simpson .... matte painter (uncredited)
Matthew Yuricich .... matte painter (uncredited)
 
Stunts
Paul Baxley .... stunt coordinator
Henry Wills .... stunt coordinator
Carol Daniels .... stunts (uncredited)
John Epper .... stunts (uncredited)
Jerry Gatlin .... stunts (uncredited)
Johnny Hagner .... stunts (uncredited)
Loren Janes .... stunts (uncredited)
Neil Summers .... stunts (uncredited)
Norm Taylor .... stunts (uncredited)
Bob Terhune .... stunt double: John Wayne (uncredited)
Henry Wills .... stunts (uncredited)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
R.B. Garig .... grip
Owen Marsh .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Homer Plannette .... gaffer (uncredited)
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Diana Wilson .... costumer
John Intlekofer .... costumer (uncredited)
 
Editorial Department
Don Guidice .... assistant editor
Hal Ashby .... assistant editor (uncredited)
Eliot Elisofon .... color coordinator (uncredited)
 
Music Department
Ken Darby .... choral supervisor
Jack Hayes .... orchestrator
Alfred Newman .... conductor
Leo Shuken .... orchestrator
Hugo Friedhofer .... composer: additional music (uncredited)
Fred Steiner .... composer: additional music (uncredited)
 
Transportation Department
Gene Clinesmith .... driver
James E. Haynes .... driver
 
Other crew
John Dutton .... script supervisor (as John C. Dutton)
Carl Sandburg .... creative associate
Tony Van Renterghem .... director of research
Ralph Helfer .... animal supervisor: Africa U.S.A, (uncredited)
 

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Additional Details

Also Known As:
"George Stevens Presents The Greatest Story Ever Told" - UK (complete title), USA (complete title)
See more »
Runtime:
199 min (edited version) | USA:141 min (re-issue version) | USA:225 min (premiere version)
Country:
Language:
Color:
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
2.76 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints) (Westrex Recording System) | Mono (35 mm prints)
Certification:
Argentina:Atp | Australia:G | Chile:TE | Finland:S | Germany:6 (DVD rating) | Mexico:A | South Korea:All | Spain:T | Sweden:11 | UK:U | UK:U (video rating) (1993) | USA:Approved (original release) | USA:G (re-rating) (1972) | West Germany:6 (f)

Did You Know?

Trivia:
Max von Sydow, Telly Savalas, and Donald Pleasence all went on to play Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the James Bond series. In fact, the only person to play Blofeld and not star in this film would be Charles Gray.See more »
Goofs:
Incorrectly regarded as 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 »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in "DVD-R Hell: Bibleman (#2.2)" (2012)See more »
Soundtrack:
RequiemSee more »

FAQ

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
30 out of 43 people found the following review useful.
von Sydow Struggles Under Greatest Role Ever Played, 2 August 2004
Author: artemis_5 from Northern California

The story of Jesus Christ may be the greatest story ever told, but George Stevens movie does not provide the most convincing telling of that story. In spite of beautiful cinematography and music, there is something missing of the power of other tellings. With the exception of a couple of scenes, Max von Sydow does not seem quite up to the role, despite clearly being a good actor. This is not necessarily von Sydow's fault, as it takes more than great acting to convince the audience that you are the character. Imagine Ingrid Bergman as Scarlett O'Hara instead of Vivian Leigh or Gregory Peck as Rhett Butler. Max von Sydow has moments of passion and succeeds in occasionally moving you, but somehow seems too much like the actors who play his apostles to distinguish himself from them, a necessary feat for an actor who hopefully is surrounded by twelve other good actors at all times.

Max von Sydow's highlights are the raising of Lazarus from the dead and the sequence of his entry into Jerusalem and speech at the temple. In fact, I would say that for those two scenes, he outdoes many of his fellow actors that have donned the robe of Jesus. But two scenes are not enough to carry the movie. In fact, with all my respect to the impressive cast which participated in this movie, Stephens seems to have completely missed the mark when it came to casting a few of the roles: Ed Wynn of "Mary Poppins" fame as the blind man, John Wayne as a Roman centurion, and Shelley Winters as "Woman of no name." On the other hand, few actors can portray the almost fanatic mania of John the Baptist, "a voice crying in the wilderness," like Charlton Heston. Jose Ferrer also puts in a good performance as Herod Antipas, and Roddy McDowall convincing plays both a smart aleck and a reverent follower. His exchange with Jesus over collecting taxes offers one of the few somewhat humorous moments.

It is not a surprise to learn that George Stevens put so much effort into his movie. Like Mel Gibson with "The Passion of the Christ," "Greatest Story" is like a painting, with each stroke carefully put onto the canvas. However, unlike Gibson, whose characters seem right out of 1st Century Judah, there is modern quality to Stephens film. There are, however, more positive aspects to this film than negative. Besides the cinematography and the wise choice of Hendel's beautiful "Messiah", other positives are showing Mary Madgelene as traveling with the apostles (there is even a wonderful little scene where Mary annoints Jesus with oil which shows a kind of intimacy between them lacking from other versions of the story).

While some commentators have criticized the screenplay, I think it is one of the best. As much as it pains me to say this, I think casting alone made this movie less powerful. Still I recommend that everyone see it at least once.

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Recent Posts (updated daily)User
John Wayne = hysterical eganp-1
Great resource for the 'Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon' game. mrwalrusq
Recasting the John Wayne Centurion powersroc
So what casting worked and did NOT work? angmc43
Judas suicide paulbacigalupi
The Hermit (Possible Spoilers) kaiachautauqua
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