The Man Who Never Was

The Man Who Never Was

DVD - 2005
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Account of wartime espionage based on the true story of an intelligence operation designed to mislead the Nazis prior to the 1943 Allied invasion of Sicily.


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Apr 21, 2015

A clever strategy (albeit morbid) on outsmarting the Nazis fuels this WWII drama. The momentum sputters and hiccups at times but it was a good story.

Apr 20, 2015

This is a 1956 WWII espionage film directed by Ronald Neame, based on the book of the same name by Leutenant Commander Ewen Montagu.
It is about "Operation Mincemeat"---a 1943 British Intelligence plan to deceive the Axis powers into thinking "Operation Husky (the Allied invasion of Sicily)" would take place elsewhere.
Discovered on the beach of Spain is the body of an intelligence officer called Major William Martin with military identification and letters in his pockets that describe a forthcoming invasion of Greece by the British.
Then, a Nazi spy is dispatched to London under orders to discover whether the information found on the corpse is genuine.
What follows is a taut cat-and-mouse game as British Intelligence races to stay one step ahead of the Nazi agent.
It is a suspenseful, thrilling, gripping and profoundly entertaining film.

Feb 24, 2015

Right off the bat, this marginally entertaining (but decidedly morbid) WW2 drama from 1956 lost itself 2 stars for featuring in its cast that total cow, American actress, Gloria Grahame, as one of the story's principal players.

It then lost itself yet another star for claiming that its story was, indeed, true, when, in reality, only the first half of this tale could make that claim, while the last half was nothing but a complete fabrication.

On top of all of that - I also found that there was, yet again, another actor who had a major part in the story whose unconvincing performance as Commander Montagu quickly began to grate on my nerves, big-time - And that was the priggishly effeminate, Clifton Webb (a real-life "Momma's Boy").

With so much already going against this picture, I'm really surprised that I actually had the patience to sit through its 103-minute running time.

But, as it turned out - Actor Stephen Boyd (whom I do like) appeared in a pivotal role (as an Axis agent) in this picture's latter half (its untrue part) and so I tolerated the rest of the show just to see what sort of shenanigans his character would get up to.

For anyone who's interested - The Man Who Never Was is one of those truly rare war pictures that completely avoided battle scenes and big bomb explosions.

Dec 05, 2014

Fanciful account of one of the most audacious military tricks of WWII. In the spring of 1943 it was essential that the Allies invade and occupy the German stronghold at Sicily, a fact well known to Hitler and his cabinet who made sure the small island was heavily guarded. In order to weaken the enemies’ defences, the British high command decided to implement an outrageous plan first suggested by Lt. Cmdr. Ewen Montagu—acquire a dead body, dress it up as an officer of the Royal Marines, plant false papers on it, and then drop it into the ocean off the coast of Spain where it will wash ashore, an apparent victim of a plane crash, thus allowing the “top secret” papers to reach the Germans stationed there. With painstaking precision Montagu and his associates create “Major Willy Martin” complete with military ID, bank account, and a love letter from his fictitious fiancée Lucy (in fact the unsuspecting roommate of Montagu’s secretary whose own real life fiancé is serving in the RAF). But, despite their efforts, the staff at British Intelligence are not quite prepared for the tenacity of their German counterparts who launch a very thorough investigation into the identity of Major Martin which includes sending a spy to London… Although gussied up somewhat for the big screen this remains an interesting and very entertaining wartime story which manages to stick to the facts for the most part without any of the exaggerated patriotism so common to the genre. Montagu’s efforts are meticulously recreated right up to the time a handful of officers release the body into the sea, and scenes of the spy skulking about London trying to verify Martin’s existence carry sufficient menace without resorting to melodrama. Gloria Grahame’s performance as the grieving Lucy does border on film noir overkill however, providing the movie’s only low point. The deathbed scene wherein a grieving Scotsman willingly donates his son’s body without question is especially poignant, filmed in soft shadows with a camera angle that manages to take in father, son, and Lieutenant (even though the real body was in fact a lone Welsh vagrant who committed suicide). A few key players, among them Montagu himself, have small cameos and Peter Sellers provides some off camera voices including a very convincing Winston Churchill! And the opening sequence featuring Martin’s body rolling in the surf while a sombre narrator quotes from the 16th century song “The Battle of Otterburn” was brilliant.

Feb 08, 2014

Clifton Webb is the embodiment of the stiff upper lip, never displaying undue emotions even at a sidesplitting London play. He doesn't just walk across a room, he marches. His impeccably trimmed, reddish beard looks particularly unruffled even while driving his classic, British-made MG roadster.

The sets and locations are excellent. The care with which they are chosen and the way they are lighted and shot is reminiscent of Neame's The Odessa File (1974). That Oswald Morris was director of photography on both films is probably not a coincidence.

A definitive scene takes place in a claustrophobic basement morgue lined with glistening white tiles. A body is being dressed. While they work, somewhere above them an air raid begins, moves closer, passes and ends. A woman screams. A dog barks. Very little is said and only the slightest gestures indicate their concern for the events going on above. But it is clear that they are very aware of the raid and of how what they are doing could alleviate some of the atrocity of the war.

These are a different kind of man. Not gung-ho, hell-for-leather GIs but thoughtful men who remain rational and well-grounded. This is what will get them through this project and this war.

Sep 29, 2013

I love this movie. I also read the declassified version, OPERATION MINCEMEAT which fills in some blanks. The plotting was so well thought through and it worked. And a poor hopeless British drunk ended up being buried with military honors in a special grave in Spain.

aaa5756 Jun 07, 2013

It was O.K for a home TV movie. I was entertained and interesting. But it was NOT worth the long library wait or the price to rent from a Red Box. I fast forwarded a lot but not all the way.

MYRLYN Dec 15, 2012

No mention of the THE hero I noticed. That being the deceased whose remains were used in the ruse.

Nov 11, 2012

if men are looking for heroes, there are a number on display in this film. there is a quiet male dignity in almost every frame of this film.


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aaa5756 Jun 07, 2013

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” ― Martin Luther King, Jr


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