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The Story of Mankind (1957)

The devil and the spirit of mankind argue as to whether or not humanity is ultimately good or evil.

Director:

Irwin Allen

Writers:

Irwin Allen (screenplay), Charles Bennett (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ronald Colman ... The Spirit of Man
Hedy Lamarr ... Joan of Arc
Groucho Marx ... Peter Minuit
Harpo Marx ... Sir Isaac Newton
Chico Marx ... Monk
Virginia Mayo ... Cleopatra
Agnes Moorehead ... Queen Elizabeth I
Vincent Price ... Mr. Scratch - The Devil
Peter Lorre ... Nero
Charles Coburn ... Hippocrates
Cedric Hardwicke ... High Judge
Cesar Romero ... Spanish Envoy
John Carradine ... Pharaoh Khufu
Dennis Hopper ... Napoleon Bonaparte
Marie Wilson ... Marie Antoinette
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Storyline

The council of elders of outer space is deliberating on a very important subject: Must mankind be allowed to survive, or is it so esentially evil that it must be destroyed? A devil and an angel act as prosecutor and defense for the human race, and the movie presents in a very interesting way a series of episodes of the human history. What will be the final veredict? Innocent, or Guilty? Written by Jose Beltran-Escavy <pepe@prince.pe.u-tokyo.ac.jp>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Biggest star cast ever assembled! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Fantasy | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

8 November 1957 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La historia de la humanidad See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Cambridge Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Melinda Marx's film debut. See more »

Goofs

Sir Isaac Newton published his famous paper outlining the law of gravity in 1666, but in the sequence in which Harpo Marx plays Newton he performs on the harp Stephen Foster's song "Beautiful Dreamer," written in 1864 -- almost two centuries later. See more »

Quotes

The Devil: SOME reward for the man who helped settle the new world.
See more »

Connections

Edited from King Richard and the Crusaders (1954) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A Bold Film For It's Time
16 March 2011 | by joe dSee all my reviews

Just saw this for the first time on Turner Classic Movies. This was quite a good movie, in fact, I would say, it was a bold and courageous move by Irwin Allen considering the time period.

Today the history as touted by Mr. Snatch (a great performance by Vincent Price) would not appear anything radical or new. However, we're talking about over a half-century ago when bluntly pointing out how Native American Nations were massacred trying to defend their land and homes instead of them being portrayed as savages attacking poor and noble pioneers who sought no gain other than leading a great country westward - that was sac-religious back then in the days of John Wayne- type history (sorry about that, Duke). Or bringing out (and not being denied by Man, played equally as great by Ronald Coleman) the manipulation and exploitation associated with events otherwise looked upon as noble in an age that fostered the Committee on Un-American Activities, conformity, repression of free speech, blacklisting and the ruining of so many people's lives - it was just about unheard of back then.

Of course, most of the supporting cast performances were more campy than dramatic (the expression on Heddy Lamar's face playing Joan when first hearing her calling had me in stitches and reminded me of Bill Cosby's early-career Noah routine, when, as the Lord called upon him to build an arch, Noah replied "yeah, right.... who is this really? Am I on Candid Camera or something?"

Again, if that film came out today it wouldn't be much, but for it to come out back then, I found that amazing.


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