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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:
Go Forth To All the Nations 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 Joseph Schildkraut. He died a year before the film was released.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 King of Kings (1961)See more »
Soundtrack:
Hallelujah ChorusSee more »

FAQ

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
22 out of 27 people found the following review useful.
Go Forth To All the Nations, 26 August 2006
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York

When first released George Stevens's version of the Gospel was dismissed as too long, too reverential, too soon after the sound version of The King of Kings was released, and too many stars in the cast taking one's attention from the story.

Too some degree that is true, but being a stargazer myself I'll never find fault with a film for that. And who knew in 1965 that we would get The Last Temptation of Christ and the Passion of the Christ in our future. George Stevens's film is looking pretty good now.

No doubt about the presence of a whole lot of movie names helped bring in the bucks. But with one glaring exception you do pay attention to the roles, not who's playing them. Some parts are pretty substantial. Charlton Heston as John the Baptist has the longest amount of screen time other than Von Sydow. Also given a large amount of time is Jose Ferrer as Herod Antipas, Telly Savalas as Pontius Pilate, Dorothy McGuire as the Virgin Mary and Donald Pleasance as the Prince of Darkness.

The personification of the Devil is something Mel Gibson borrowed for his film. Personally I think Donald Pleasance is quite a bit better than what Gibson did.

Other stars had smaller roles. Sidney Poitier played a silent part as Simon of Cyrene who helped Jesus with his cross on the way to Calvary. You could not have gotten away with an all white cast in a film like this by 1965. A whole group of players from previous Stevens films got some bit parts and more like Van Heflin, Shelley Winters, Sal Mineo, and Ed Wynn.

One star Joseph Schildkraut had the rare distinction of playing in both Cecil B. DeMille's silent King of Kings and this film. Schildkraut played Judas for DeMille and is seen as Nicodemus here. This was Schildkraut's last film. An interesting double distinction for a man who came from a prominent Jewish theatrical family.

One big glaring error though. Stevens should never have cast John Wayne as the Roman Centurion who supervising the crucifixion. Wayne is seen in passing through out the journey to Calvary, but with no dialog. At the moment of Jesus's death with the drama unfolding it was just wrong to have that recognizable a voice utter, "truly that man was the son of God." Instead of concentrating on the story the audience gets distracted and in the theaters the whispers went up with 'ooh, that's John Wayne.'

Arizona served as the location for ancient Judea. Unlike DeMille in The Ten Commandments, Stevens concentrated on the beauty of the location as opposed to filling the screen with people. It got filled enough with the story. You might recognize the Grand Canyon as the backdrop for the sermon on the mount scene. Of course Handel's Messiah is almost obligatory for these films and it's done well here.

One scene that you will not forget comes at the end of the first act, the raising of Lazarus who is played by Michael Tolan. His sisters, Mary and Martha, are played by Ina Balin and Janet Margolin. They had shown Jesus and the disciples hospitality earlier. When Lazarus is taken ill, Mary and Margaret, go after Jesus to bring him back. It is too late, Lazarus has died and he's in his tomb. Or so everyone thinks. The sparse dialog, the photography, and the background music are so well done at this point the most hard hearted nonbeliever will pause.

Of course most of the name players in The Greatest Story Ever Told are no longer with us so the cameos don't mean as much today. It is probably better in that an audience of today can concentrate on the story without even the most minimal interference of recognition. And they can concentrate on the story without either alternate realities as in The Last Temptation of Christ or all the gore and violence of Mel Gibson's epic. Definitely worth a look by today's contemporary audience.

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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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