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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

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Writers:
Fulton Oursler (book)
Henry Denker (source writings)
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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:
Biblical Epics See more (93 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:
Spoofed in The Thorn (1971)See more »
Soundtrack:
Hallelujah ChorusSee more »

FAQ

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14 out of 20 people found the following review useful.
Biblical Epics, 1 November 2003
Author: schappe1 from N Syracuse NY

I just got my first DVD payer after holding out for year and have become a total convert. I am watching some of the old classics of my youth, both to see them again in mint condition and to have a look at all the special features, including the documentaries and commentaries. Presently I'm doing a festival of the great biblical epics of the 50's and 60's. My local video store had THE ROBE, (1953), BEN-HUR (1959), CLEOPATRA, (1963) and THE GREATST STORY EVER TOLD, (1965-let's call it TGSET). I thought I'd write a joint review comparing them.

THE ROBE was done at the tail end of the old Hollywood, a studio production whereas these others were all filmed primarily on location with the international casts and crews we often saw making movies in the later era. But THE ROBE has all the Hollywood know-how we've come to expect. Particularly important was the pacing. It's a history lesson and a reverent film but it's also an entertainment. Young Richard Burton, (he was about 28) shows the impressive voice and passionate style that made him a name actor in the next decade, (he was nominated for an Oscar). Jean Simmons is very good and the smaller parts are well cast, particularly Richard Boone as Pontius Pilate, who in once scene leave much more of an impression than Frank Thring or Telly Savalas, who do the same role in BEN-HUR and TGSET, respectively.

But BEN-HUR is clearly the pick of the litter. This is true epic, full of glorious action scenes including the justly famous chariot race. But, as directed by William Wyler, it's also a very thoughtful film. Charlton Heston is excellent as the passionate and idealistic hero. Stephen Boyd is my all-time favorite movie villain. He's the one who should have won the supporting actor Oscar, not Hugh Griffith for his Arab businessman. But it's Wyler who carries the day. Noted primarily as a director of actors, (and especially actresses), he was by this stage in his carrier looking for challenges. He'd never directed an epic before. By bringing to the mix his sense for dialog and characterization, eh give this a depth you can't find in something direct by DeMille, for example, who was more a director of pageants than movies. His use of water as constant symbolism for cleaning the body and spirit is brilliant and memorable.

Joseph Mankiewicz was also known for making more intimate films than CLEOPATRA, (which is not quite biblical but close enough). Like Wyler, he brings to the project something a normal director of epics would not have and CLEOPATRA is a much more intimate film than I remembered. Sure there is the absurdly overdone entrance into Rome and the Battle of Actium. But most of the scenes take place in doors and looked like a filmed record of a stage play. Both Burton and Rex Harrison are excellent in their roles and Liz Taylor is fine, (and fine looking), as well, although I agree with suggestions that Sophia Loren would have been a better choice being more obviously Mediterranean. Like Martin Landau and others interviewed, I would like to see some effort to restore, as best as possible, the two missing hours of this film and its presentation in the two parts Mankiewicz intended, perhaps on one of the movie channels. Even in its present form, the film is better than I remembered.

TGSET may be the greatest story every told but this is surely not the greatest telling of it. The film is long, s..l..o..w and mournful. It's like sitting through a three hour wake. The only scenes where anybody shows any joy are the resurrection scenes of Lazarus and Christ at the end. One scene is accompanied by the disciples singing the same mournful hymn over and over again. I don't think I would want to hang out with these guys for very long. The scenes in THE ROBE where Burton talks to the people who were touched by their relationship with Jesus and in BEN-HUR where he offers the hero water and where he is given it in return, are much more moving that Max Von Sydow's grim sermons in TGSET. We never see the results of living the way eh suggests. And the miracle of resurrections seems an almost pointless substitute. If Jesus's soul has gone to join his father in Heaven, what difference does it make that his grave no longer holds his physical body?

TGSET is filmed not in the Holy Land but in the deserts of Arizona and Utah, (Christ's visit to Utah must have pleased the Mormons.) The place looks totally desolate, such that no one would ever want to live there. Indeed, the area was flooded by a damn project shortly after film was completed. Too bad they weren't doing NOAH'S ARK or the TEN COMMANDMENTS. The actors are totally dwarfed by the surrounding scenery. It makes them and their story look temporary, not everlasting. The eclectic cast with its all-star cameos was considered something of a joke in it's time. At the Last Supper, TV Land viewers can see Illya Kuryakin, Baretta and Klinger! And it's fun to see Ingmar Bergman's knight from `THE SEVENTH SEAL doing scenes with Ed Wynn, Vaudeville's `Perfect Fool'. George Stevens is quoted as saying that someday, people viewing this film will not know who the actors were and will just see the characters. He's right. They all blend in together today. The performances are all very good, except for John Wayne's gargling of `Truly, this man was the Son of God', which, as I recall, produced audible laughter in the theater in 1965 and still seems wildly inappropriate today. I remember feeling that Charlton Heston walked away with the film as John the Baptist and he still does four decades later. The acting isn't the problem with the film. It's the pace and the setting.

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