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The Bible: In the Beginning... (1966) Poster

Trivia

Dino De Laurentiis originally announced that this would be the first in a series of feature films based on the books of the Bible. However, as the film lost Twentieth Century Fox $1.5 million, plans for any sequels were abandoned.
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John Huston was a self-professed atheist.
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Unusually, there are no opening credits, save for the title of the film. While this is standard practice for blockbusters today, it was very rarely deployed in the 1960s.
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Filming of The Tower of Babel sequence was disrupted when Egyptian extras staged a rock-throwing riot.
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Filming ended in December 1964, but the film was not released until September 1966.
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One of the first mainstream American films to feature male and female nudity (albeit artfully filmed in a light-and-shadow style) in the Garden of Eden sequences. Reportedly, neither Michael Parks nor Ulla Bergryd used body doubles for these scenes.
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When God talks to Noah, that's actually the voice of John Huston speaking to John Huston.
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It was John Huston's original idea to have Charlie Chaplin play Noah. However, Chaplin didn't much like the idea of appearing in a picture directed by someone else, and Huston wound up playing the role himself. Similarly, Huston wanted Igor Stravinsky to score the film. For unspecified reasons, this was never done, either.
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Ava Gardner and George C. Scott had a brief, but stormy affair during the making of this movie. At one point, he even kicked down the door of her hotel suite in a drunken rage.
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Sir Alec Guinness was offered the role of Noah.
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It took John Huston five years to complete the film.
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This film contains three Irish actors - Peter O'Toole, Richard Harris, and Stephen Boyd. However, although O'Toole claimed to have been born in Ireland, the birth records show he was actually born in Leeds, England. John Huston got Irish citizenship in 1964, and held until his death in 1987.
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Richard Harris and Franco Nero play brothers-turned-enemies Cain and Abel, and later played friends-turned-enemies Arthur and Lancelot in Camelot (1967).
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Franco Nero was dubbed by an uncredited actor in this film. It is possible, though not confirmed, that several of the other Italian actors were dubbed as well, although the actors themselves can be seen mouthing the words.
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As with many epics of the 1950s and 1960s, Paul Francis Webster was called in to supply promotional lyrics to the main theme. The song was titled "Song of the Bible" and Webster devised the following lyrics to fit Mayuzumi's opening theme music: "A long, long time ago / There was no earth, there was no sea / In all the endless dark, no star, no tree / And then it came to pass / Jehovah said "Let there be light" / And as the thunder rolled / He made the day and then the night."
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French Director Robert Bresson was hired in 1964 by Producer Dino De Laurentiis as director. When he shot his first scene, the deluge, he requested the use of all the animals in Rome city zoo. The producers complied, but upon checking the daily rushes, saw that the only thing Bresson filmed was the tracks of the animals upon a sandy beach. They were furious, and Bresson was fired, John Huston took over the project, delaying production a further six months.
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While filming The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965) at Dinocitta in Rome in 1964, Dino De Laurentiis offered Charlton Heston an unspecified role in this movie.
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In her memoirs, Ava Gardner wrote that she hated having to speak the stilted dialogue, as it felt unnatural. John Huston told her that she would speak them and make them sound convincing.
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Richard Burton was originally considered for the role of King Nimrod which was eventually played by Stephen Boyd. Ironically, Burton had replaced Boyd on the much troubled Cleopatra (1963) shoot.
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When Adam and Eve are driven from the Garden of Eden, as a storm rages, the musical soundtrack, composed by Toshirô Mayuzumi, plays a quotation of the Roman Catholic hymn Dies Irae (Day of Wrath). It is a popular musical quotation, most familiar from its use in Hector Berlioz' Symphonie Fantastique (1830, fifth movement, "Dream of the Witch's Sabbath,"), and as heard in the opening scene of Stanley Kubrick's film, The Shining (1980).
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Despite the fact that they were the same nationality, and the best of friends, this was the only movie, in which Peter O'Toole and Richard Harris appeared, and they don't even have any scenes together.
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It is one of the first films to feature male nudity, along with Planet of the Apes (1968).
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Despite losing $1.5 million for Twentieth Century Fox, "The Bible: In the Beginning..." was the highest grossing film of 1966. This and Cleopatra (1963) are the only two movies to have been the highest grossing of their respective years, despite failing at the box-office.
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Ironically, three of the films actors, (John Huston, Ava Gardner and George C. Scott) were in real life atheists.
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When cast as Abel, Franco Nero could not speak or understand any English. Although his voice was dubbed by another American actor, John Huston helped Nero understand English by giving him audio recordings of William Shakespeare's plays to study, most notably "Hamlet", which strongly bares a similar plot to Cain and Abel.
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When Orson Welles was hired to direct the Abraham segment, he had discussed a role with Sir Michael Caine.
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Animals that are featured in the Garden of Eden and Noah's Ark scenes, were delivered from a German zoological park.
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This was the first film shot in the Dimension 150 process. This process was credited as simply "D-150".
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In some cities (such as Atlanta, Georgia) this film, which was shot in Dimension 150, a "curved screen" process, was not shown on a curved screen during its first run, despite the fact that there existed Cinerama theaters in those cities. This did not happen with the second and last film released in Dimension 150, the much more successful Patton (1970).
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Despite the fact that John Huston and Peter O'Toole lived only one hundred kilometers from each other in County Galway in the West of Ireland, this was the only time they worked together. Huston lived in a fine mansion in Craughwell, and O'Toole had a cottage in Clifden, both of which would have been very remote in the 1960s. Huston also wanted O'Toole and Richard Burton for his "Waterloo" for "The Bible" Producer Dino De Laurentiis, and for his long cherished "The Man Who Would be King", but this did not happen.
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Dino De Laurentiis offered Spencer Tracy the role of Abraham in 1962, but Tracy passed on it, as he was heavily involved on the lengthy filming schedule of It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963).
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Richard Harris later portrayed the titular role in Abraham (1993), and Franco Nero portrayed the Hebrew prophet Nathan in David (1997). Both of these Scriptural-based television films aired on Turner Network Television.
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The title is appropriate, as the film only covers the first twenty-two chapters of the Book of Genesis. Dino De Laurentiis planned to film several movie adaptations of the Bible.
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In his 2008 autobiography "My Word Is My Bond", Sir Roger Moore said he was considered for a role in the film, but turned it down.
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In August 1963, Dino De Laurentiis signed a contract with M.J. Frankovich and Leo Jaffe of Columbia Pictures to distribute this picture worldwide. The deal, reputedly worth twenty million dollars, eventually fell through.
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This was filmed in Dimension-150. There was only one other film shot in this process, Patton (1970). George C. Scott appeared in both.
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In a 1973 interview for the BBC's "Desert Island Discs" program, John Huston was asked if he would be making any more of the film than the first twenty verses of Genesis. He replied, "I wouldn't go a verse further!"
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This would be the last major studio produced Biblical epic, until Paramount Pictures released King David (1985).
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More than forty species of animals are seen in the dazzling 'two-by-two' promenade of the Noah's Ark sequence. Director John Huston humorously frames the majestic parade around the slow progress made by the turtle duo, who are passed by every other species and are eventually picked up and carried aboard the ark by Noah (played by Huston) himself.
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Although the film only received one Academy Award nomination (for Best Original Score), it won four David di Donatello Awards (Best Production, Best Foreign Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Production Design). The David di Donatello Awards are considered the Italian equivalent to the American "Oscars".
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Dino De Laurentiis first announced that this would be a portmanteau project, and that each book of the old testament would be directed by a major director. Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman, Robert Bresson, Luchino Visconti, and Orson Welles were all approached, but in the end, this proved to be too ambitious and expensive. Instead, this just concentrates on the book of Genesis.
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Promo material for the U.S. release listed the title as "The Bible...in the Beginning." The actual on-screen title is "THE BIBLE in the Beginning..."
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Because he was an Irish resident, John Huston was always eager to film there whenever he could. He was also keen to set up an indigenous Irish film industry, and helped set up a steering committee for the Irish government in the late 60's. He also tried to make a movie about the 1916 Rising with State aid but it came to nothing. For " The Bible.. In the Beginning ", the cliffs of Moher in Co Clare, near his Galway home, are used in the opening Creation sequence.
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George C. Scott played Abraham in this film. Scott's wife, Colleen Dewhurst, played Abraham's daughter-in-law Rebekah in The Story of Jacob and Joseph (1974).
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Peter O'Toole was arrested during the production in Rome after punching a photographer. He was on a night out with actress Barbara Steele when he took offence to the paparazzi.
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In this film, Eve is referred by name before the Fall. In real-life, Adam began addressing her by name after God expelled them from Eden and when the couple started wearing clothing because they transgressed against him. Adam's wife would labor all future generations was the reason he named her "Eve". Her name means "Mother of All Living" or "Mother of All Life". Adam referred her as "Woman" or "The woman" before God expelled them from Eden.
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Ennio Morricone composed a score for this movie which was rejected by John Huston.
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Though critically lambasted for its plodding pace and lack of dialogue, Huston's film does not shrink from visually representing some of the most fantastical aspects of Genesis, most notably the massive rains in the Noah's Ark section and Nimrod's long-distance shooting of his arrow into the clouds, which prompts the sweeping Tower of Babel sequence, arguably the best vignette in the film.
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The film cast includes two Oscar winners: George C. Scott and John Huston; and three Oscar nominees: Peter O'Toole, Richard Harris, and Ava Gardner.
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Because of the brutal behavior of George C Scott towards Ava Gardner, John Huston hired mafiosi body guards to protect her against Scott.
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(At around one hour and twenty minutes) There is a four-minute intermission.
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