Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Story of Mankind|
Actors: Ronald Colman, Hedy Lamarr, Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx
Director: Irwin Allen
Genres: Comedy, Drama
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Fritz Langlois | Second star to the right | 01/25/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Well, if you've always wanted to see Vincent Price as the Devil, John Carradine as a lion-carressing Pharaoh, Peter Lorre as Nero the Roman emperor and Dennis Hopper as Napoleon, this is the place to look! You also get Hedy Lamarr and the Marx Brothers. This is a star-studded affair.
Somewhere in the sky, a well-dressed and ever-mellifluous Vincent Price is arguing in front of a Celestial Jury with Ronald Colman, who speaks on behalf of Man. The purpose of said trial is to decide whether Mankind is GOOD or BAD, and worth being saved or not. To this effect a great many obvious historical characters are on hand to serve as examples of one or the other inclination.
This is served into typical 1950s Hollywood fashion: naive, colorful, full of clichés... and very entertaining! Many scenes look like stock-shots from other and previous productions, so that the whole thing looks like a schoolbook made alive. Price in particular is a treat to watch! This film was a peculiar endeavour to begin with, and amounts now to a unique watching experience of psychedelic proportions, which the eager film-lover will not look down upon.
The film has long been impossible to find, so this is a welcome though expensive reissue (and more so for overseas customers), of very good quality sound and picture. No subtitles and no bonuses.
Also recommended in the same DVD-on-demand collection: THE BIG CIRCUS, also by Irwin Allen (as producer), and also with Peter Lorre and Vincent Price. A no less colorful venture than THE STORY OF MANKIND, it is a more straightforward venture and a very pleasing one."
Must Be Seen To Be Believed.
Chip Kaufmann | Asheville, N.C. United States | 04/24/2010
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Since amazon doesn't award half stars, I am forced to give this movie two stars but I cannot give it three. It falls squarely in the middle as a movie that is as bad as it is good and vice versa. But have no doubts, it is the best 2 star film that you will ever see. Producer Irwin Allen whose disaster movies (TOWERING INFERNO) and sci-fi TV series (VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA) were still in the future cut his teeth on this 1957 historical and hysterical glimpse at the history of Man. Based on a serious work by Dutch author Henrik van Loon (actually his real name, pronounced LONE), this all star extravaganza must be seen to be believed. I remember seeing it as a child in black & white and thinking how awe inspiring it all was. A high tribunal in outer space deciding the ultimate fate of Mankind while the Spirit of Man (Ronald Colman in his last film) and the Devil (Vincent Price at his most elegant) argued for and against. The arguments on both sides were compelling and Mankind is left to determine his own fate. Something to do with the super H-Bomb (remember this was the Cold War 1950s).
As fantasies go this is pretty cut-rate but where else can you see Peter Lorre as Nero, Virginia Mayo as Cleopatra, Hedy Lamar as Joan of Arc, and Dennis Hopper(!) as Napoleon. Let's not forget Francis X. Bushman as Moses, Agnes Moorehead as Queen Elizabeth I, Edward Everett Horton as Sir Walter Raleigh and you haven't lived until you see Groucho Marx as Peter Minuet buying Manhattan from the Indians or Harpo Marx as Sir Isaac Newton. Mix these players with the greatest collection of stock footage ever seen and you have an unforgettable experience. As history it's worthless but the entertainment value is priceless. Seeing it in Technicolor only adds to the fun especially in the earthly visits. The celestial courtroom scenes are also memorable. The movie is very well made for its limited budget. They match up the stock footage nicely and the costumes do look good but the script is really camp. In its defense the movie makes no attempt to be serious, nevertheless it's films like THE STORY OF MANKIND that show us just how bad a Hollywood film can be in a really good way."
Good Old Days
Christine Edge | Melbourne Australia | 10/02/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is a movie i watched as a kid (many years ago) with fascination. Is now very dated but is a curio of a movie just to see some of the old greats do there stuff.Harpo Marx as usual magic to watch!!!! Raises a few questions of the human condition circa 1957. If you think about nothing is much better these days"