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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:
Beautiful and Dignified Telling of Christ's Mission 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)

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)
 

Production CompaniesDistributors

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:
3 Channel Stereo (RCA Sound Recording) (5.0) (L-R)
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:
Final film of cinematographer William C. Mellor. He suffered a heart attack, collapsed and died on the set.See more »
Goofs:
Continuity: 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:
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:
Version of The Passion of the Christ (2004)See more »
Soundtrack:
Hallelujah ChorusSee more »

FAQ

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
29 out of 41 people found the following review useful.
Beautiful and Dignified Telling of Christ's Mission, 30 July 2005
Author: louiepatti from Manassas, VA

There are no real spoilers in this review, for the story is familiar to Christians of all stripe: the birth, life and mission of Jesus Christ. This epic-length film moves at a stately pace; some may find it boring, but I personally like it very much. Stevens does a superb job with this sensitive material. He cast dozens of famous people, some in cameos and bit parts, but all lending their talents to this film. The costumes have an authentic look, and the landscapes are breathtaking---they are far superior to mere background paintings or sets, and convey a sense of being right there in Palestine two thousand years ago. The music is lovely, well-scored and not jarring. Every role is well-cast, from Charlton Heston as John the Baptist to Telly Sevalas as Pontius Pilate. Best of all were Donald Pleasance as the devil and the tall, lanky Max von Sydow as Christ.

The story unfolds like pages turning in a book. Jesus is born, then appears at age thirty to begin his mission. He goes to his cousin John for baptism, then calls men to follow him. Miracles are performed almost in an indirect way: Jesus speaks in Sydow's commanding voice and, instead of focusing on Christ, the camera is fixed on the person receiving the miracle. A notable exception is the raising of Lazarus. Christ pleads in anguish for the revival of his friend, not because the prayer is really necessary, but to cry out his sorrow for losing Lazarus. As God made man, Jesus hurt like we did, and this scene demonstrates this. His teachings are given gently but firmly throughout the movie. Some viewers may be put off by Sydow's almost detached mannerisms, but the quiet dignity actually suits the concept of Christ as teacher on his salvific mission. The gentle mien of Jesus also stands in stark contrast to the times when he does strongly react, whether to the death of Lazarus, to finding moneychangers in the Temple of Jerusalem, or during his passion and crucifixion. The moment when Christ's life ends is stunning; the light goes out in Sydow's clear blue eyes just before he drops his head.

There are other little gems strewn throughout The Greatest Story Ever Told, moments that shine with unexpected clarity. The calling of Matthew, the betrayal and suicide of Judas, the healing of the crippled young man are just a few examples. The Last Supper is very surprising in its similarity to the way a priest consecrates the bread and wine in a modern-day Mass. The famous actors embrace their roles and seem honored to be part of this great project. The dialogue is beautiful for a reason; American poet Carl Sandburg was in charge of rendering the ancient Bible story into modern wording without sacrificing the meaning or power of the original. Dynamics shift like the ebb and flow of tides, floating on the words as well as the events.

Others have done this story, yet this remains my favorite. Unlike the remake of King of Kings(the silent version was way better), it seems authentic in its details---what genius decided to shave Jeffrey Hunter's underarms? And Jesus of Nazareth never quite escapes the shackles of prime-time miniseries/soap opera; its melodramatic and the scene where Mary freaks out is disturbing rather than evoking sympathy from the audience. As for The Passion, it's an awesome attempt to convey just what Jesus endured for our sins, but unsuitable for children or people who are sensitive to excessive violence and gore. So, in conclusion, for Easter viewing, The Greatest Story Ever Told remains my family's favorite version of the life and work of Jesus Christ.

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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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