Greatest Story Ever Told [1965]

Director: David Lean, George Stevens, Jean Negulesco
Stars: Max von Sydow, Dorothy McGuire, Charlton Heston, Michael Anderson Jr., Carroll Baker
Genre: Biography, Drama, History
Rating: G (General Audience)
Runtime: 199 minutes

The life of Christ got an excessively long treatment (260 minutes, later trimmed to 195) in this 1965 film directed by George Stevens (The Diary of Anne Frank). Max von Sydow does beautiful work as Jesus--his spontaneous mourning at discovering his friend Lazarus has died is not like anything in other New Testament epics--and Stevens renders the familiar tale with a handsome authenticity. But the project is nearly undone by an unwise gimmick in which seemingly half of Hollywood's living stars at the time make brief (often very brief) cameo appearances, some of which are ridiculous. But there is a lot to like in the film, and Von Sydow's sensitive nobility sticks in the memory. --Tom Keogh

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