The Greatest Story Ever Told


The Greatest Story Ever Told

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Reviews Counted: 19

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Average Rating: 3.5/5

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Movie Info

Filmmaker George Stevens chose Monument Valley, Utah for his exterior sequences in The Greatest Story Ever Told, this ($20 million) adaptation of Fulton Oursler's best-selling book. The "Greatest Story" is, of course, the life of Jesus Christ, played herein by Max Von Sydow. The large supporting cast includes Dorothy McGuire as Mary, Claude Rains as Herod the Great, Jose Ferrer as Herod Antipas, Charlton Heston as John the Baptist, Donald Pleasence as Satan (identified only as "The Dark Hermit"), David McCallum as Judas Iscariot, Sidney Poitier as Simon of Cyrene, Telly Savalas as Pontius Pilate and Martin Landau as Caiaphas. Even Robert Blake as Simon the Zealot, Jamie Farr as Thaddaeus, and motorcyle-flick veteran Richard Bakalyan as Dismas, the repentant thief, are well-suited to their roles. Originally roadshown at 260 minutes, Greatest Story Ever Told was later available in a 195-minute version.

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Telly Savalas
as Pontius Pilate
José Ferrer
as Herod Antipas
John Wayne
as Roman Centurion
Robert Blake
as Simon the Zealot
Claude Rains
as Herod the Great
Marian Seldes
as Herodias
Rodolfo Acosta
as Captain of Lancers
Michael Ansara
as Herod's commander
Joseph V. Perry
as Archelaus
Charlton Heston
as John the Baptist
Donald Pleasence
as The Dark Hermit
Michael Anderson Jr.
as James the Younger
David Sheiner
as James the Elder
Jamie Farr
as Thaddaeus
Peter Mann
as Nathaniel
Tom Reese
as Thomas
Johnny Seven
as Pilate's aide
Paul Stewart
as Questor
Harold J. Stone
as Gen. Varus
Mark Lenard
as Balthazar
Joanna Dunham
as Mary Magdalene
Janet Margolin
as Mary of Bethany
Ina Balin
as Martha of Bethany
Carroll Baker
as Veronica
Pat Boone
as Man at Tomb
Sal Mineo
as Uriah
Van Heflin
as Bar Armand
Ed Wynn
as Old Aram
Shelley Winters
as Woman of No Name
Chet Stratton
as Theophilius
John Lupton
as Speaker of Capernaum
Abraham Sofaer
as Joseph of Arimathaea
Martin Landau
as Caiaphas
Robert Busch
as Emissary
John Crawford
as Alexander
Sidney Poitier
as Simon of Cyrene
Richard Conte
as Barabbas
Frank de Kova
as Tormentor
John Pickard
as Peter's 2nd Accuser
Celia Lovsky
as Woman behind railings
Mickey Simpson
as Rabble rouser
Richard Bakalyan
as Good Thief on Cross
Marc Cavell
as Bad Thief on Cross
Renata Vanni
as Weeping woman
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Critic Reviews for The Greatest Story Ever Told

All Critics (19) | Top Critics (4)

  • The prophets should speak with respect of this $20 million Biblical epic.

    Nov 13, 2007 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Top Critic
  • By reputation, the results are so dull and so consistently undercut by a succession of star cameos that no one seems to mind the various shorter versions released since them, one of them less than half as long.

    Nov 13, 2007 | Full Review…
  • Interminable and intolerably reverential.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…
    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Mr. Stevens has done it in a generous and often stunning style. And the quality of his reverence should captivate the piously devout.

    May 9, 2005 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…
  • Hammy performances by Charlton Heston as John the Baptist, Telly Savalas as Pilate, and, in the most notorious bit of casting, John Wayne(!) as a Roman soldier overseeing the crucifixion ("Truly, this man was the son of God," drawls the Duke).

    Apr 22, 2011 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Tends to degenerate into a series of increasingly bizarre walk-ons.

    Nov 13, 2007 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Greatest Story Ever Told

A HUGE investment of time that drags here and there but a chance to see the kind of spectacle that isn't made anymore. A fine example of the craftsmenship of old Hollywood.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

A very fast and incomplete story of the life of Jesus, many facts left out but still worth 4 stars/

Bruce Bruce
Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer


An overly long version of Christ's story. Von Sydow is great as Jesus, but hearing the Duke's voice as the Centurion pissed me off for some reason.

Red Lats
Red Lats

Super Reviewer

love these top heavy with stars juggernauts they tossed at you to try to get you out from in front of your teevee sets! and this one drips with maybe too much reverence, and how, oh how can you do that?

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

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