Story of Mankind 1957

Poster of the 1957 film "The Story of Mankind"

The Story of Mankind is a 1957 fantasy film based on the nonfiction book The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Willem van Loon. It is notable mostly for its campiness, and for featuring an ensemble of notable Hollywood performers in the last years of their careers. It was former publicist Irwin Allen's first attempt at directing live actors after his documentaries The Sea Around Us and The Animal World. Like his 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.


  • Ronald Colman
  • Vincent Price


Scientists have developed a weapon, called the "Super H-bomb", which if detonated will wipe out the human race. 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 (played by Vincent Price), who goes by the name of Mr. Scratch, prosecutes mankind, while the Spirit of Man (played by 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.

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