Claude Rains did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Herod the Great in The Greatest Story Ever Told.
The Greatest Story Ever Told takes a grand scale approach to telling the life of Jesus although perhaps too grand as there is something lost in terms of finding the power directly within the personal story of Jesus.
There is perhaps something gained though in the grand scale as it gives time to character who might not be granted as such with a more intimate portrait of Jesus. The film has an all-star cast that surrounds Max von Sydow, then unknown to American audiences, as Christ. This approach in the casting is actually largely effective in giving life to minor character except a few instances that a bit problematic, well mainly John Wayne as a Roman centurion is more than bit distracting. Thankfully though this also had the film include Claude Rains in his final cinematic turn. Rains in his final turn obviously never lost a step as previously shown in his shrewd work as the political operative in Lawrence of Arabia, this though hearkens back to Rains's earlier roles as a more maniacal character. Rains in his first, of only a few scenes, greets the three magi looking for Jesus at his birth. Rains is terrific in this scene in his eyes conveys such an inherent madness in the man though he does not allow this to overwhelm his portrayal. As Rains in his delivery effectively uses his refined manner to hide Herod's intentions quite artfully. Rains even this though suggests a certain ego even when speaking in a way to hid what his real actions will be, as he states his own piousness as a rules. Rains brilliantly both reveals and attempts to hide the evil man in the same scene. Rains in his following scene though is incredibly entertaining though genuinely menacing as well as he shows Herod no longer hiding his intentions. Rains is a master of this combination of sort of being both overt and very subtle at the same time. There is grandness in his gestures, and again those fantastic mad eyes in the role, yet in his delivery brings such a cold incisiveness in every word. He's quite chilling in fact as he describes his order for the deaths of children with such certainty of man who believes he can avoid fate. Rains only has a brief final scene yet it is perfection as Herod is delivered news of the massacre. Rains bringing only a fear in his face before his soldier delivers his news to which Rains grants the most diabolical grin fitting to man of Herod's corruption. This is a brief performance to be sure yet makes such an impact in just his three scenes. It is one final reminder and a worthy swansong by the great Claude Rains of his unique talent as the invisible man provides one final cinematic sinner.
crucifixion that leads the crowd to wish the same. Pleasence brings such a certain joy in the call among the crowd. Pleasence embodies a certain kind of evil here as the hermit is never a despicable man but this unnatural shadow that chases Jesus wherever he goes either to tempt or to destroy him. Pleasence offers another terrific supporting turn within the film, though while I wouldn't say that this quite makes this film a true success it makes it whole lot more interesting than it otherwise would be.