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The Greatest Story Ever Told

The Greatest Story Ever Told(1965)

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  • George Stevens The Greatest Story Ever Told

    • David Atkins
    • 8/14/11

    George Stevens had a brilliant body of work: The More The Merrier, A Place In the Sun, Shane, Giant, et al and all Hollywood respected this great film maker. Stevens chose the story of Christ but the film's major flaw with the casting of Max Von Sydow as Christ. Von Sydow who does not have the passion and fire and charisma necessary. In fact I feel Jeffrey Hunter was a better Jesus in MGM's King of Kings. Stevens rented the old Selznick lot from Desilu and created the Holy Land in Culver City. Major stars appear in this film such as Charlton Heston and John Wayne. I find it interesting that major stars that gained added fame in George Stevens films such as Barbara Stanwyck, Rock Hudson, Jean Arthur, Katharine Hepburn, and Spencer Tracy did not appear in this all star film. Four notable Catholics Rosalind Russell, Loretta Young, Irene Dunne and Spencer Tracy also did not appear. Elizabeth Taylor who starred in Stevens "A Place In the Sun" and "Giant" was offered Mary Magdalene but turned Steven down. ( Jennifer Jones and David Selznick wanted for years for Jennifer to star as Mary Magdalene and wonder why Stevens did not offer the role to Jennifer?). As a devout Catholic I applaud those who film religious oriented films but this film put me to sleep. Where it should have been a riveting film, it fails to inspire.

  • Yes it is The Greatest

    • larry
    • 10/17/07

    The strength of this film is the empowering of the viewer to project himself into the then-present day. This enabling power gives one the ability to imagine how he/she would've reacted in those times, had they been there. Far from a bitter pill, the maker of this marvelous, wonder-inspiring film must have felt immense joy and humility at being able to bring this story to people. It also serves as an effective preamble to the study of The Bible by a beginner. And, also, at long last it provided Robert Blake with the opportunity to do at least one decent thing in his life.

  • Not Quite The Greatest

    • Michael O'Farrell
    • 6/18/07

    Veteran director George Stevens predicted that his epic movie on the Life of Christ would be a film for The Ages, the kind of once-in-a-lifetime cinematic event that would entertain and enthrall moviegoers for future generations to come. That "The Greatest Story Ever Told" failed both critically and commercially must have been a bitter pill for the great filmmaker to swallow. Stevens spent years preparing and filming this movie, at the almost unheard of cost of nearly 20 million dollars. Previously a master of comedy/drama( "Alice Adams"), musical comedy/romance ("Swing Time") and rousing action/adventure (Gunga Din"), Stevens traded his comic hat for very serious fare by the early 1950's, with such classics as "A Place In The Sun", the melancholy western "Shane" and the rambing , epic family/generational saga "Giant". Each of these films were deadly serious affairs, superbly mounted, acted and directed. Each successive film also became more stately and ponderous than the previous effort. By the time of his "The Diary Of Anne Frank" (1959), Stevens had reached the apex of his directorial art. With "Greatest Story" the production values took precedence over telling a genuine human story. Filmed in the extremely wide Ultra Panavision 70 process, the movie served up a series of stunning tableaux , highlighting key points in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Max Von Sydow, the swedish star of past Imgmar Bergman films, was an imposing if rather severe looking Jesus. The huge cast consisted of innumerable , cameo "spot the famous star" appearances, a major distraction that hurt the story's ebb and flow. The one lasting contribution was Alfred Newman's magnificent, ethereal music score. Winner of 5 Academy Award nominations, "The Greatest Story Ever Told" is a huge coffee table book of a movie, stunning to look at but nearly devoid of life.

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