×

The Greatest Story Ever Told

The prophets should speak with respect of this $20 million Biblical epic. The Greatest Story Ever Told is the word made manifest. Producer-director George Stevens has elected to stick to the straight, literal, orthodox, familiar facts of the four gospels. He has scorned plot gimmicks and scanted on characterization quirks. What Stevens puts on view, overall, is panoramic cinema, cannily created backgrounds, especially the stupendous buttes of Utah.

With:
Max von Sydow Dorothy McGuire Robert Loggia Claude Rains Jose Ferrer Charlton Heston

The prophets should speak with respect of this $20 million Biblical epic. The Greatest Story Ever Told is the word made manifest. Producer-director George Stevens has elected to stick to the straight, literal, orthodox, familiar facts of the four gospels. He has scorned plot gimmicks and scanted on characterization quirks. What Stevens puts on view, overall, is panoramic cinema, cannily created backgrounds, especially the stupendous buttes of Utah.

Stevens is not particularly original in his approach to the galaxy of talent, some 60 roles. Hollywood’s fad for cameo bits by featured players may suffer some discredit in the light of the triviality of footage and impact by such players as Carroll Baker, Pat Boone, Richard Conte, Ina Balin, Frank De Kova, Victor Buono, Marian Seldes, Paul Stewart. John Wayne is ill-at-ease and a waste of name, many may feel, as the captain of the soldiers who escort the Redeemer to the cross. Claude Rains is standout in the opening sequence [directed by David Lean] as the dying ruler of Judea.

Popular on Variety

Quite properly Stevens has focused on the birth, ministry, execution and resurrection of the Son of God. In the casting of Jesus there is occasion for compliment. The performance of the Swedish actor, Max von Sydow, and his English diction are ideal.

The Baptist (Charlton Heston) is the only out-and-out fanatic in the picture but this takes the form of roaring demands that Herod ‘repent’. Herod, in the remarkably curbed performance of Jose Ferrer, is no worse than a cynical administrative stooge for the Romans.

1965: Nominations: Best Color Cinematography, Color Costume Design, Color Art Direction, Original Music Score, Visual Effects

The Greatest Story Ever Told

Production: United Artists. Director George Stevens, [David Lean, Jean Negulesco]; Producer George Stevens; Screenplay George Stevens, James Lee Barrett; Camera William C. Mellor, Loyal Griggs; Editor Harold F. Kress, Argyle Nelson Jr, Frank O'Neill; Music Alfred Newman; Art Director Richard Day, William Creber

Crew: (Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1965. Running time: 225 MIN.

With: Max von Sydow Dorothy McGuire Robert Loggia Claude Rains Jose Ferrer Charlton Heston

More Film

  • EUGENE HERNANDEZ, DIRECTOR OF NEW YORK

    Eugene Hernandez Named New York Film Festival Director

    Eugene Hernandez will take over as New York Film Festival director, replacing former chief Kent Jones who stepped down in September. Hernandez, who previously served as deputy director of the organization, will now be responsible for the strategic direction and leadership of the New York Film Festival and will serve on its selection committee. Film [...]

  • Chris-Brancato-Giancarlo-Esposito-Carole-Bouquet-and-Zabour-Breitman

    ‘The Luminaries,’ ‘The Eddy,’ ‘Patria’ Set for Series Mania

    PARIS  —  “Narcos” showrunner Chris Brancato and “Godfather of Harlem” star Giancarlo Esposito, actors Carole Bouquet and Zabou Breitman, and the cast and crew behind the Canal Plus series “The Bureau” will be among the many guest of honor at this year’s Series Mania, which will kick off its 11th edition on March 20. Returning to [...]

  • Jakob Mejlhede Andersen

    NENT Studios U.K. CEO Jakob Mejlhede Andersen Steps Down

    Jakob Mejlhede Andersen, the CEO of NENT Studios U.K., is stepping down from the business, which operates the Nordic region’s leading streamer Viaplay. Mejlhede was appointed CEO of NENT Studios U.K. in October 2019 and was previously executive VP and CCO for NENT Group’s Viaplay. He also held the role of executive VP and group [...]

  • A still from The Earth Is

    'The Earth Is Blue as an Orange': Film Review

    “Everybody smile and say ‘cinema,'” young Myroslava Trofymchuk instructs several Ukrainian soldiers, as they obligingly pose and perform for her camera, their brawny tank reduced to a prop in the rubbly, wintry background. It’s the only time we see the masculine agents of conflict in “The Earth Is Blue as an Orange,” a documentary with [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Cannes to Celebrate Wong Kar-wai's 'In The Mood For Love'

    The Cannes Film Festival is to screen a restored version of Wong Kar-wai’s “In The Mood For Love,”  20 years after it first premiered on the Croisette. The festival will play a restored, 4K version of the timeless Hong Kong-set romance that starred Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Maggie Cheung as a journalist and a secretary [...]

  • Elvis Presley 1968 Comeback Special

    'Elvis: That's the Way It Is' Documentary Set for Re-Release (EXCLUSIVE)

    Trafalgar Releasing has set a re-release for the concert documentary “Elvis: That’s the Way It Is” for April 22 in 14 countries, Variety has learned exclusively. The event will mark the 50th anniversary of the film’s original release by MGM. Most of the remastered footage was shot at the International Hotel in Las Vegas with [...]

  • Blackhall Studios to Build Major Production

    Blackhall Studios to Build Major Production Facility in U.K.

    Blackhall Studios, the Atlanta-based production hub that has hosted several high-profile shoots in recent years, has signed an agreement with the University of Reading to develop its first U.K. facility. Due for completion in early 2022, the new studio will offer physical production stages alongside digital media facilities tailored for special effects, augmented reality and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content