The Story of Mankind (1957) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Story of Mankind (1957)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Story of Mankind Photos

Movie Info

The phenomenal success of Mike Todd's Around the World in 80 Days (1956) inspired several directors to make similarly lavish all-star extravaganzas. This effort comes from a young Irwin Allen and features a blockbuster cast. The sprawling plot is based on Hendrik Willem Van Loon's best-selling 1921 book. It is framed by the story of a Celestial tribunal convened to debate the worthiness of humanity following the invention of the hydrogen bomb sixty years ahead of schedule. Their arguments will determine whether or not the leader of the Supreme Tribunal (presumably God) will authorize the destruction of planet Earth. The Spirit of Man (Ronald Colman in his final film appearance) points out all of humankind's achievements for good while wily Satan (Vincent Price) calls men worthless. Both of their points are illustrated via vignettes. Highlights include Hedy Lamarr as Joan-of-Arc, a young Dennis Hopper as Napoleon and Peter Lorre as Nero. The Marx Brothers also made their final appearance as a team. Interestingly, each appeared separately. Groucho played a lusty Peter Minuit, the Dutchman who bought Manhattan from the Indians, while Harpo played Sir Issac Newton. Chico played a monk. Hailed by some as one of the worst movies ever, The Story of Mankind proved one of the biggest box-office bombs of the '50s.


Hedy Lamarr
as Joan of Arc
Ronald Colman
as The Spirit of Man
Groucho Marx
as Peter Minuit
Harpo Marx
as Isaac Newton
Virginia Mayo
as Cleopatra
Agnes Moorehead
as Queen Elizabeth
Charles Coburn
as Hippocrates
Cedric Hardwicke
as High Judge
Cesar Romero
as Spanish Envoy
Dennis Hopper
as Napoleon
Marie Wilson
as Marie Antoinette
Edward Everett Horton
as Sir Walter Raleigh
Reginald Gardiner
as Shakespeare
Marie Windsor
as Josephine
Cathy O'Donnell
as Early Christian Woman
Franklin Pangborn
as Marquis de Varennes
Melville Cooper
as Major Domo
Henry Daniell
as Bishop of Beauvais
Jim Ameche
as Alexander Graham Bell
Dani Crayne
as Helen of Troy
Austin Green
as Lincoln
Richard H. Cutting
as Court Attendant
Nick Cravat
as Apprentice
Melinda Marx
as Early Christian Child
Bart Mattson
as Cleopatra's Brother
Don Megowan
as Early Man
Nancy Miller
as Early Woman
Leonard Mudie
as Chief Inquisitor
Sam Harris
as Noble in Queen Elizabeth's Court
Abraham Sofaer
as Indian Chief
Tudor Owen
as Court Clerk
Richard Cutting
as Court Attendant
William Schallert
as Earl of Warwick
Ziva Rodann
as Concubine
David Bond
as Early Christian
Eden Hartford
as Laughing Water
Harry Ruby
as Indian Brave
View All

Critic Reviews for The Story of Mankind

All Critics (1)

Mind-curdling in its concentrated ghastliness.

December 2, 2010 | Rating: 1.5/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Story of Mankind

This movie isn't as long as I had dreaded, so I was happy about that, but then on the other hand I was disappointed that we didn't get to see all of the great actors for very long. They all had short scenes, except for Price and Colman. I think maybe packing a film with so many stars wasn't such a great idea, although it does draw in more fans. This story has been seen before in many other more exciting movies too, so it doesn't even have that going for it. Overall, it was interesting to watch, and I loved Price and Colman, but it's not a great movie.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer


Not very good but a cavalcade of familiar faces camping it up.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

The Story of Mankind Quotes

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