The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965)

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Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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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.
Rating:
G
Genre:
Classics , Drama , Faith & Spirituality
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 wide
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:
MGM Home Entertainment

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Cast

Telly Savalas
as Pontius Pilate
John Wayne
as Roman Centurion
Robert Blake
as Simon the Zealot
Robert Loggia
as Joseph
Claude Rains
as Herod the Great
Marian Seldes
as Herodias
Rodolfo Acosta
as Captain of Lancers
Michael Ansara
as Herod's commander
Dal Jenkins
as Philip
Joseph V. Perry
as Archelaus
José Ferrer
as Herod Antipas
Charlton Heston
as John the Baptist
Donald Pleasence
as The Dark Hermit
Roddy McDowall
as Matthew
Michael Anderson Jr.
as James the Younger
David Sheiner
as James the Elder
Jamie Farr
as Thaddaeus
David Hedison
as Philip
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
Cyril Delavanti
as Melchior
Frank Silvera
as Caspar
Joanna Dunham
as Mary Magdalene
Janet Margolin
as Mary of Bethany
Ina Balin
as Martha of Bethany
Michael Tolan
as Lazarus
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
Ron Whelan
as Annas
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
Celia Lovsky
as Woman behind railings
Mickey Simpson
as Rabble rouser
Richard Bakalyan
as Good Thief on Cross
John Pickard
as Peter's 2nd Accuser
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.

Full Review… | November 13, 2007
Variety
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.

Full Review… | November 13, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Interminable and intolerably reverential.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
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.

Full Review… | May 9, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

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).

Full Review… | April 22, 2011
Creative Loafing

Tends to degenerate into a series of increasingly bizarre walk-ons.

Full Review… | November 13, 2007
Film4

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

½

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

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