The Greatest Story Ever Told

George Stevens Productions / United Artists Released 1965




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Movie Summary

George Stevens (I) , David Lean , Jean Negulesco

The Greatest Story Ever Told tells the story of the son of God, Jesus Christ, from the nativity to the resurrection including the sermon on the mount, the cleansing of the temple, and the betrayal of Christ by Judas Iscariot. Jesus performs many miracles such as restoring sight to a blind man and curing a man who was lame. The last three years of Jesus' life are seen in detail leading up to His crucifixion and resurrection.


Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • As the movie progresses, actress Joanna Dunham's scenes become more and more close up as she plays Mary Magdalene. This is because she was pregnant, resulting in Director George Stevens using different creative and tighter camera angles to hide or disguise her ever growing stomach.

    • Actor Telly Savalas was not bald in real life but is seen with a shaved skull in the role of Pontius Pilate. He liked the look so much, that he would keep this totally shaved head for the rest of his career.

  • QUOTES (3)

    • Peter: (nervously) Who's there?
      James the Younger: (voice behind the door) Me.
      Peter: (opening the door in anger) What's wrong with you? When I ask "Who's there", why do you answer "Me"?
      James the Younger: (sheepishly) Because it WAS me, Peter.

    • John the Baptis: Are you going to free me?
      Herod Antipas: I am going to KILL you!
      John the Baptis: free me.
      Herod Antipas: (softly as he walks away) I hope so.

    • King Herod: The child of imagination is the child I fear.

  • NOTES (5)

    • Actor Max von Sydow said his role as Jesus was the hardest when the camera wasn't rolling. He wasn't allowed to smoke, have a drink, or even be affectionate to his wife while still in costume.

    • The Greatest Story Ever Told began filming in 1962 and finished production in 1963. It would not be released to theaters until 1965.

    • This was the last film for actor Claude Rains, who would die not long afterwards of an intestinal hemorrhage at the age of 77.

    • Two extreme snow storms hit the Jerusalem set in its Arizona filming location, forcing the whole production to shut down and relocate to the Desilu Studio complex back in Hollywood.

    • During the filming of The Greatest Story Ever Told, Director of Photography, William Mellor, went into cardiac arrest and died on set.


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Classics, Biography, Historical, Epics, Family Dramas