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The film so holy it turned Telly Savalas bald.
In 1965, director George Stevens' The Greatest Story Ever Told portrayed the life of Jesus and his miracles from Nativity to Resurrection. For a plot synopsis you might as well just read The Bible. While Story was not the first of its ilk, this broad epic scope is one of the notable features of this film and was something the creators wanted to play up. The then-unknown (in the U.S.) Max Von Sydow was cast as Jesus, but the rest of the cast and crew was filled with big names, some coming in for short cameos. It had actors like Claude Rains, Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Sidney Poitier, Donald Pleasence, the oft-commentated-on John Wayne as the Centurion at the crucifixion and the aforementioned Telly Savalas, who shaved his head for his role as Pontius Pilate in this film and then decided never to grow it back. David Lean (Mr. Epic Sweeping Landscapes) and Jean Negulesco even added exterior shooting in the great open spaces of the US to add a more epic feel than Real Life Israel could offer.
- Cameo - The fairly common practice at the time of surrounding a fresh new actor as the lead and then surrounding him with more familiar faces, combined with Loads and Loads of Characters lead to a number of these.
- God in Human Form
- And all the other tropes one might find in the New Testament of The Bible.
- Hey, It's That Guy! - Corporal Klinger as one of the Apostles.
- Role Association - As said, this film has Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowell, Sidney Poitier, Donald Pleasance and John Wayne as well as Pat Boone, Angela Lansbury, Martin Laundau and a young Max Von Sydow.
- According to the Medved Brothers' The Hollywood Hall of Shame (a book on expensive box-office disappointments, which this film was), when the project was announced Heston fans clamored for him to be cast as Jesus, given his Biblical epic reputation — he was cast as John the Baptist instead.
- Title Drop - In the opening narration.
- Too Good for This Sinful Earth - Jesus, obviously. Lampshaded by Mary, Lazarus' sister:
Mary: I'm frightened for him.