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The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965)

An all-star, large scale epic movie that chronicles the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.

Directors:

George Stevens, David Lean (uncredited) | 1 more credit »

Writers:

Fulton Oursler (book), Henry Denker (source writings) | 3 more credits »
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Nominated for 5 Oscars. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Max von Sydow ... Jesus
Michael Anderson Jr. ... James the Younger
Carroll Baker ... Veronica
Ina Balin ... Martha of Bethany
Pat Boone ... Angel at the Tomb
Victor Buono ... Sorak
Richard Conte ... Barabbas
Joanna Dunham Joanna Dunham ... Mary Magdalene
José Ferrer ... Herod Antipas
Van Heflin ... Bar Amand
Charlton Heston ... John the Baptist
Martin Landau ... Caiaphas
Angela Lansbury ... Claudia
Janet Margolin ... Mary of Bethany
David McCallum ... Judas Iscariot
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Storyline

"My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?" It is towards this climactic crossroads that the story of Jesus of Nazareth leads, and to which, at the final moment, it again looks back in triumphant retrospect. It is the anguishing crossroads where the eternal questions of faith and doubt become resolved. Written by alfiehitchie

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A Richly Rewarding Entertainment Experience for the Entire Family


Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Producer and director George Stevens habitually took at least one whole year over the editing of his movies, once he had achieved complete artistic control over them. He usually shot dozens of takes of each scene, varying his camera angles from take to take, so that he would have a great deal of choice in the editing suite. In this case, so much footage was amassed that the movie's opening date, originally planned for Christmas of 1964, had to be postponed because the editing was not completed, even though he had finished shooting in the late summer of 1963. The movie opened at Easter of 1965 with a running time of three hours and forty-five minutes, making it one of the longest movies of all time. It was re-cut several times subsequently, and this version has not been seen since the 1960s. See more »

Goofs

When the crucifixion is show at a distance, the sound of the mallet blows and the sight of the mallet blows arrive at the same time. At the distance shown, the sound would be slightly, but perceptibly, delayed. See more »

Quotes

[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...
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Alternate Versions

Original Cinerama version ran 260 minutes, subsequently cut over the years. The shortest version runs 141 minutes. Numerous versions have been shown on television. Network television print has only the main cast credits at the beginning and the technical credits at the end shown page-by-page (not "rolled up" as most prints), including a credit for "Cinerama". The most common version of the film shown today runs 195 minutes with all the credits rolled up at the beginning, and the end titles showing only the words "Released through United Artists". That particular version has been available on home video and cable TV. See more »

Connections

Version of Jésus (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

Requiem
Music by Giuseppe Verdi (as Giuseppi Verdi)
See more »

User Reviews

 
A Letter from George Stevens, Jr.
18 September 2000 | by harry-76See all my reviews

On 9/18/00 I received a letter from George Stevens, Jr., replying to my earlier letter to him encouraging his support of his father's four-hour, "uncut," version of "The Greatest Story Ever Told" preparing for dvd. I had suggested in my letter that the original version was undoubtedly his father's artistic vision and thus was the one worthy of preservation for dvd.

Stevens, Jr. responded, in part, " . . . the dvd of 'The Greatest Story Even Told' is underway and MGM-UA has found the original negative of the four-hour version of the film.

There has been a good deal of confusion about the 'official' version of 'The Greatest Story Ever Told.' In recent years I became satisfied that the 3 hour and 20 minute version was the one that my father considered his picture. That came as a result of conversations with Toni Vellani, who worked with my father and has since passed on, and others.

My father, according to Toni, rushed the film for its first two premieres and immediately, at his own initiative, started trimming it to the 3:15 version. He was pleased with this cut. . . .

There was a later shorter version that my father authorized UA to make in an effort to recoup some money -- and that version which ran under 3 hours is of no value at all.

Frankly, I will be interested to see what the additional 40 minutes represents in the long version because, over the years, I've been familiar with the version that runs approximately 3:15. . . ."

This generous explanation from Mr. Stevens, Jr. certainly reveals the intracacies of the purely artistic process as balanced with the business aspect. It also makes one aware that the assumption that the "cut" version was not the preference or the adequate representation of the director, may be inaccurate. In any event at this point, the four-hour dvd version of "The Greatest Story Ever Told" is most eagerly awaited.


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Details

Official Sites:

MGM

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 April 1965 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

George Stevens Presents The Greatest Story Ever Told See more »

Filming Locations:

Glen Canyon, Arizona, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$20,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (edited) | (re-issue) | (premiere)

Sound Mix:

3 Channel Stereo (Westrex Recording System) (5.0) (L-R)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.76 : 1
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