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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) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
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
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
Pat Boone ... Angel at the Tomb
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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A Richly Rewarding Entertainment Experience for the Entire Family


Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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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

Show more on IMDbPro »

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
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jean Simmons was initially announced to portray Mary Magdalene. See more »

Goofs

When King Herod and his courtiers move around his throne room, the set floors sound distinctly like wood and plaster, instead of the solid stone they're supposedly made of. 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...
See more »

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 »


Soundtracks

Adagio for Strings
(uncredited)
Written by Samuel Barber
Played during the Intermission
See more »

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User Reviews

Breathtakingly gorgeous, sensitive, powerful film.
13 May 1999 | by SS-9See all my reviews

I first saw this film when it was first released -- in the cinema and on a large screen with brilliant color and rich deep stereo sound. It was breathtaking! George Stevens Jr. did an absolutely magnificent job in crafting this outstandingly beautiful, sensitive, and powerful motion picture. This was not just a deeply moving re-telling of the story of Jesus (albeit with a touch of a pro-legend approach). More than that, in its visual sweep, insightful acting of the lead characters (especially of Max Von Sydow as Jesus), and resplendent musical track, this film conveyed a true sense of majesty -- a marked rarity in most film these days.

I must concur with one of the other online reviewers here, on a related point: I too believe that it was a shame, and an error on the part of Stevens, that various key characters were portrayed all-too-noticeably by some major film/entertainment stars who just seemed to be bizarrely out-of-place in their roles -- such as John Wayne as the Roman Centurion who, never before seen in the film until this moment, looks up at Jesus on the Cross and says "Truly, this man was the son of God!" (I almost expected Wayne to tag his line with the word "Pilgrim"); or such as singer Pat Boone, who jarringly appears in the role of a cloaked man who, sitting in Jesus' vacated tomb, says to a searching Roman, "Why seek Ye the living among the dead?" (Here too, I think that I was not the only one who half-expected Boone to leap to his feet and break out into singing one of his big hits such as "Bernardine" or "Love Letters In The Sand").

But those discontinuities aside, I would still say that "The Greatest Story Ever Told" is an outstanding film that merits very high marks. If you can see it, see it -- especially on a big screen, if possible, and with a good sound-system.

Steve S. (NYC)


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