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The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965)

An all-star, large scale epic film 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 »
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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
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)

Gross USA:

$15,473,333
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

This film reunites George Stevens with many actors and actresses with whom he'd previously worked: Carroll Baker (Giant (1956)), Van Heflin (Shane (1953)), Joseph Schildkraut (The Diary of Anne Frank (1959)), Shelley Winters (A Place in the Sun (1951) and The Diary of Anne Frank (1959)), and Ed Wynn (The Diary of Anne Frank (1959)). See more »

Goofs

This film has James and Matthew as brothers which is incorrect. James and John are brothers (sons of Zebedee) and are two of the first Disciples chosen by Jesus. 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 »

Connections

Referenced in Dinosaurs: The Greatest Story Ever Sold (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

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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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