The Story of Mankind (1957)

December 26th, 2023
Author: Meredith Taylor

Wri/Dir: Irwin Allen | Cast: Ronald Colman, Hedy Lamarr, Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Agnes Moorehead, Virginia Mayo, Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Cedric Hardwicke, Dennis Hopper, Jon Carradine | US drama 100’

One of the many jokers to be found in that pack of twaddle ‘The Fifty Worst Movie of All Time’, this isn’t really as much fun as that makes it sound, but it has its moments; the touching scene with Cathy O’Donnell as a Christian girl hiding from the Romans, in particular, belonging in a much better film.

The Devil and the Spirit of Man debate the everlasting question: is  humanity ultimately good or evil?.

Some of it sounds pretty ludicrous – it’s true, but for the most part The Story of Mankind is played pretty straight, and the scene with Dennis Hopper and Marie Windsor as Napoleon & Josephine is watchable; while Ronald Colman, Vincent Price and Cedric Hardwicke bring a rare class to the heavenly tribunal.

That Irving Allen was a better producer than a director is evident from the fact that he managed to include all three Marx Brothers in the thing, but not as a team; while Groucho as Paul Minuet buying Manhattan from the indians shows how unfunny he can be if hasn’t got a decent script. @RichardChatten

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