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The Story of Mankind (1957)

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The Story of Mankind

"The Story of Mankind" is the last movie in which three of the brothers appeared, though not in the same scene. It also featured Groucho's daughter Melinda and his wife Eden Hartford (the Indian girl in the picture below).

This 1957 American fantasy film is based on the nonfiction book The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Willem van Loon, and is notable mostly for its campiness, and for featuring an ensemble of notable Hollywood performers in the last years of their careers. The film was former publicist Irwin Allen's first attempt at directing live actors after his documentaries The Sea Around Us and The Animal World. Like Allen's previous two films, it features vast amounts of stock footage, in this case, battles and action scenes culled from previous Warner Bros. costume films, coupled with cheaply-shot close-ups of actors on much smaller sets. In addition to being was the last motion picture to feature three Marx Brothers, it was also the last film of star Ronald Colman and of character actor Franklin Pangborn.

Scientists have developed a weapon, called the "Super H-bomb", which if detonated will wipe out the human race entirely. A "High Tribunal" in "The Great Court of Outer Space" is called upon to decide whether divine intervention should be allowed to stop the bomb's detonation. The Devil (Vincent Price), who goes by the name of Mr. Scratch, prosecutes mankind while the Spirit of Man (Ronald Colman) defends it. Price and Colman are allowed to take the tribunal to any period of time to present evidence for mankind's salvation or damnation. They take the tribunal from prehistory through Egyptian, Greco-Roman, medieval, Renaissance, Enlightenment and modern times, looking at historical figures played by a host of guest stars, most of which are either wildly miscast, or play their roles tongue-in-cheek.

This page uses material from Wikipedia and is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License

chico groucho harpo


Ronald Colman   The Spirit of Man
Vincent Price   The Devil
Sir Cedric Hardwicke   High Judge
Hedy Lamarr   Joan of Arc
Groucho Marx   Peter Minuit
Harpo Marx   Isaac Newton
Chico Marx   Monk, adviser to Christopher Columbus
Virginia Mayo   Cleopatra
Agnes Moorehead   Queen Elizabeth
Peter Lorre   Nero
Charles Coburn   Hippocrates
Cesar Romero   Spanish envoy
John Carradine   Khufu
Dennis Hopper   Napoleon
Marie Wilson   Marie Antoniette
Helmut Dantine   Mark Antony
Reginald Gardiner   Shakespeare
Marie Windsor   Josephine
George E. Stone   Waiter
Cathy O'Donnell   Early Christian woman
Melinda Marx   Early Christian child
Melville Cooper   Majordomo
Henry Daniell   Bishop of Beauvais
Francis X. Bushman   Moses
Jim Ameche   Alexander Graham Bell
Bobby Watson   Adolf Hitler
Anthony Dexter   Columbus
Bart Mattson   Cleopatra's brother
Dani Crayne   Helen of Troy
Eden Hartford   Laughing Water
Franklin Pangborn   Marquis de Varennes
Nick Cravat   Apprentice
Ziva Rodann   Concubine
Austin Greene   Abraham Lincoln
Harry Ruby   Indian Brave
Reginald Schallert   Julius Caesar
Abraham Sofaer   Indian chief
Marvin Miller   Armana
Tudir Owen   Court clerk

Director  Irwin Allen
Written by  Irwin Allen
  Charles Bennett
  Hendrik Willem vam Loon (book)
Cinematography  Nicholas Musuraca
Art director  Art Loel
Supervising film editor  Roland Gross
Editor  Gene Palmer
Music  Paul Satwell
Sound recordists  Stanley Jones
Associate producer  George E. Swink
Producer  Irwin Allen
Production company / Distribution  Cambridge / Warner Brothers
Runtime  100 min.
Release date  08 Nov 1957
Spanish title  La Historia De La Humanidad

Posters and Lobby Cards for this movie. Click to enlarge.

This site uses material originally created by Frank Bland for his website Why A Duck?. Frank did kindly give me permission to use this material.

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