The 1957 Warner Bros. production of 'The Story Of Mankind' was the final part of a trilogy which started with 'The Sea Around Us' (1953) followed by 'The Animal World' (1956). Set in a High Tribunal somewhere in outer space, the Technicolor (for wide screen presentation) motion picture examined the history of man (also known as homo sapiens) through 1 million years of civilization on the 3 billion years old Earth.
Irwin Allen spent a year in 1954 researching for the project before assembling a star-studded cast to play the giants of history such as Cleopatra, Isaac Newton, Joan of Arc, Nero, Queen Elizabeth I, Moses, Marie Antoinette, William Shakespeare, Helen of Troy, Abraham Lincoln, Adolf Hitler, Napoleon Bonaparte and Julius Caesar. Irwin told the press in 1956, "By the time we finish, we expect to have a bigger cast than Mike Todd had in 'Around the World.'"
Ronald Colman played the Spirit of man, a lawyer representing the human race. Vincent Price played the Devil. One argued for mankind and the other argued against mankind. Irwin recounted, "We start with the Henrik Van Loon's (1921) book. Van Loon had a rare ability to put history into popular terms, to make it understandable to children. But with all due respect to Van Loon, history is still something like hearing a joke for the second time. The punch has gone out of it. So we have added a gimmick.
"We start out with 2 stars in the sky. They pulsate as they talk to each other and tell how the people on Earth have developed the gamma bomb, which with one blow could destroy the world. Should it be exploded? Now we go to some place in outer space. It's not heaven, because we wouldn't want to offend any religious groups. Here a trial is held to determine whether Earth should be destroyed. Many of the heroes and the villains of history appear to testify and we flash back to see their deeds."
"A TV show can go from idea to finished product in 2 months," Irwin made the observation in 1975. "A movie takes 2 years from the time you say go until it's ready for the screen." At the time, Irwin confessed, "I need excitement all the time, a sense of immediacy. So I agreed to personally produce all the 3 (TV) series ('The Swiss Family Robinson' based on Johann David Wyss' novel for ABC; 'Time Traveler' for NBC and 'Adventures of the Queen' for CBS) if they are sold."
Irwin told 'United Press International' in 1975, "When most producers attempt a classic they ask themselves how they can lick the material. I stay with the original concept, keeping intact the elements that made it a classic to begin with. That's how I made 'The Story Of Mankind' and 'The Sea Around Us', which I consider modern classics."
Of the Irwin Allen's production of 'Swiss Family Robinson', "I've made 'Swiss Family' an adult show because I believe parents and kids can enjoy the same programs just as all generations enjoyed 'The Poseidon Adventure'. Anyway, every adult is a child grown up. Most things which appeal to kids attract adults too. The only violence in this show involves nature. Men against the sea. Men against the elements. But there won't be any bloodshed involving man against man."
'Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea' ran from 1964 to 1968. Back in 1966, Irwin told the press, "Many of our viewers think that the basis of our stories is pure fiction. Nothing could be further from the truth. In recent years (in the early 1960s), the State Fish and Game laboratory has turned up dozens of specimens that could certainly be categorized as 'sea monsters'. For example, in recent times, the lab has reported the capture of a ragfish that lives at depths of 1000 feet and is an unkempt, scraggly-tailed monster that looks like a mop and has the head of a turtle."
Vincent Price told 'Knight News Wire' in 1976, "Every good scary actor has one eerie quality. Mine is my voice. When I worked with Boris (Karloff), we were very serious about finding every element of fear, and using it. 'The Pit And The Pendulum' (1961) for instance, has every single element of human fear in it! Claustrophobia, agoraphobia, xenophobia, acrophobia – all the phobias. There's somebody you're going to hit with all that."
Some 10 years later, Vincent told 'The Milwaukee Journal', "(Horror) movies today (in 1985) are so permissive. You can show blood, you can say dirty words, and you can have sex on screen. If you show somebody being murdered, that's not frightening – it's shocking. No violence – just the threat of violence – is much more frightening than the violence itself. There's no threat any more. It's like the old creaking door.
"Once the door's open, there's no suspense anymore. I feel horror is very close to comedy. The great horror stories, classic stories, all have a sense of humor. They (also) have a very logical progression. I think that's very important. There are some very basic things to fright. If you're walking down a dark alley and someone jumps out at you, it's going to scare the hell out of you – I don't care who you are."
Back in 1977, Vincent Price told Allen Spraggett of 'The Pittsburgh Press' "that I am a Gemini astrologically, born May 27, 1911, and every actor who has followed me in that (1936) play 'Victoria Regina' has also been a Gemini. Once, a Hollywood astrologer looked at my horoscope and said that for the next 2 years it was one of the most disastrous charts he had ever seen. He saw nothing upbeat for 2 years. Well, believe me, he was right. Thankfully, that period is now past."
Also around the late 1930s, Vincent was told that based on his horoscope, "you will play the role of 2 saints – one a real saint, the other fictitious. The fact is, that very shortly afterwards I played the part of Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet, a true saint, in the (1940) movie 'Brigham Young'. And then very shortly after that I played on radio (in 1947) the part of the fictional 'Saint' – Simon Templar, the private detective."
Vincent told 'Boca Raton News' back in 1978, "The hero just has to be good. But the villain has to keep you guessing. He has to keep the suspense up and without suspense, drama is boring. I've been cast as a red herring in some movies so when people see me come in they'll say, 'It's Vincent Price. He did it'. I remember one movie like that. It wasn't me who was the villain. It was Ricky Nelson."