Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

The Greatest Story Ever Told

This 1965 epic biblical is oddly fascinating now, I like it a lot, not having seen it for decades, but its getting screenings on our Sky Movies at the moment. It is of course George Stevens' retelling of the story of Jesus and it is an oddly sedate version, avoiding the flamboyance of items like KINGS OF KINGS or BARABBAS

The look of the film is astonishing - no biblical lands here, it was shot in the wilds of the USA, mainly in Utah and Arizona and those western landscapes look ideal. Then there is the cast - Max Von Sydow is a dignified Jesus, Charlton Heston is John The Baptist, 
the aged Claude Rains glitters with menace as Herod, Jose Ferrer is Herod Antipas, Dorothy McGuire is Mary, Sidney Poitier is Simon of Cyrene who helps Jesus with his cross, Carroll Baker is Veronica who wipes the face of Jesus. I did not even spot Shelley Winters or Angela Lansbury, while others in the vast cast, some for just seconds include Van Heflin, Sal Mineo, John Wayne as that centurion at the foot of the cross, Pat Boone as an angel, Donald Pleasance as the Satan figure. The disciples include Gary Raymond, Michael Anderson Jr, David McCallum as Judas, Roddy McDowell and Telly Savalas as Pilate. 
IMDB says that David Lean and Jean Negulesco were also uncredited directors, I wonder what input they had? In all, it is not as majestic as BEN HUR or as crowded as QUO VADIS? or as mad as Huston's THE BIBLE, it is like a dignified bible lesson, but it has great visuals and it all looks impressive, and as visually stunning as those weird sets in THE SILVER CHALICE


  1. I absolutely hated it when it came out, thinking it the most boring film ever made. Consequently I have avoided it ever since but I confess I did record it from SKY and will watch it sometime during Lent. I may even agree with you this time.

  2. It was derided and dismissed at the time. The influential MOVIE magazine said in 1965: "Whatever happened to the George Stevens of THE MORE THE MERRIER and I REMEMBER MAMA? Now he is playing "holy charades" (quote Time Magazine) and he's really lost his sense of humour; we find John Wayne standing at Calvary grinding out a single line to the accompaniment of thunder and lightning: "Truly this was the Son of God". The other three hours drift past, offending only by their very inoffensiveness".

  3. I know it was hated when it came out. Apart from SHANE and parts of GIANT I felt Stevens went downhill from the late forties on. I agree with the critic from MOVIE.