Man Who Never Was [VHS]

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A real beauty of a true story provides the basis for The Man Who Never Was, a gripping World War II picture that has no combat scenes, no great vistas of troops. The time is 1943, as the Allies prepare the invasion of Sicily and desperately need a diversionary ploy to make the Germans suspect another invasion target. The solution is simple but ingenious: a dead man's body will be left in the sea to float ashore on the coast of Spain; made to look like a British pilot, he will be carrying papers suggesting an Allied attack on Greece. When the papers fall to the Nazis, they'll swallow the bogus story…or will they? The film's final third tracks an Irish spy for the Axis (Steven Boyd, in one of his first roles) as he travels to London to investigate loose ends.

Clifton Webb gives a crisp, disciplined performance as Ewen Montagu, the officer in charge of the scheme. The film errs only in some melodrama involving Gloria Grahame, the histrionic roommate of an Intelligence worker. Other than that, director Ronald Neame brings his steady, classy approach to bear on a good yarn, and saves special grace for the treatment of the unfortunate dead man who unwittingly loaned his body to a stunt that saved hundreds, if not thousands, of lives. The film's final haunting shots capture the ethereal shiver of its title. --Robert Horton

Clifton Webb stars in this fascinating account of a daring intelligence operation designed to mislead the Nazis prior to the 1943 Allied invasion of Sicily. In an effort to convince the Germans to redeploy their defenses, Lt. Commander Montagu (Webb) creates a false English officer and fabricates letters that indicate the British intend to land in Greece. Montagu than plants these documents on a dead man and orchestrates the "discovery" of this "officer" on the coast of Spain, Knowing the papers will fall into German hands. What follows is a taut cat-and mouse game as British Intelligence waits for Berlin to respond, then races to stay one step ahead of the Nazi agent dispatched to determine if the dead man is genuine. This true story of ingenious deception is a riveting tale of wartime espionage.

Customer Reviews:

  • A war film with the emphasis on suspense
    As the North African campaign of WWII drew to a close it became obvious that the Allies next move would be to invade Sicily. A deception was therefore needed to try to lure away some of the German defences. Inter-services "XX Committee" (XX for double-cross) members Lieutenant Commander Ewen Montagu, and Squadron Leader Sir Archibald Cholmondley hatched the then unheard of plan of planting a body in the sea off Spain where prevailing currents would surely carry it inshore to the Huelva region, known to be the territory of one of the Nazis' best Spanish agents. The body, dressed as a major in the Royal Marines and apparently killed in a plane crash at sea, would be carrying supposedly top secret documents aimed at convincing any reader that the invasion target was not Sicily at all, but Greece. Montagu himself plays a cameo role in the film as an Air Marshall.

    The film takes us through the planning and execution of what its creators hoped would become one of the most successful and unusual deceptions in the history of warfare. The leading role of Montagu is played by Clifton Webb, utterly credible as a British naval officer, while Robert Flemyng, who had himself served conspicuously in WWII and who was awarded the Military Cross and Order of The British Empire, takes on the role of Montagu's junior assistant, a composite role based partly on Cholmondley's real-life character. Together they must procure a body that will pass a medical examination to determine the cause of death and they must also create a personality and a past life and history for this man.

    This is a true-story that avoids battle scenes and big bangs. There are no special effects. It describes a war of stealth and cunning and the cat and mouse game of espionage. It is an atmospheric suspense thriller with Stephen Boyd effective as the determined Axis agent, Patrick O'Reilly, sent in from Ireland to verify the existence and past life of this man who never was. While the soundtrack is one of Alan Rawsthorne's (The Cruel Sea) better scores, it is nevertheless immediately recognizable as one of his compositions, unfortunately sounding so much like all his others. It is ably directed by the great and sometimes under-rated Ronald Neame. It is beautifully filmed, as are all of former-cameraman Neame's pictures. The voice of Churchill is provided by the young Peter Sellers who, at that time in 1956, was establishing his versatility and making a name for himself in the BBC radio comedy, "The Goon Show".

    20th Century Fox's DVD video and sound quality are excellent, as would be expected in the studio release of one of their own productions. A worthy and entertaining addition to any WWII film collection and if it gives you an appetite for a more in-depth recounting of the true story, Ewen Montagu's 1953 book is still available in both the hardback and paperback editions....more info
  • High tension drama !
    "The man who never was" is truly, one of the most dramatic and smart plans of espionage during the WW2. based on a real fact, the British Intelligence Service pull the wool over the Nazi officials around the fake invasion plans found in a corpse dressed of British soldier. Intriguing and hair-raising all the way through. Directed by Ronald Neame (Tunes of glory), one of the most prominent British directors of his generation.

    This film -like the good wine- improves through the years.

    ...more info
  • A Classic British WWII Film
    This film showes the Brits as the Masters of faking out the Crowns Enemies. It also shows that not all the most effective fighting involves fix bayonets and charge. ...more info
  • Top notch espionage film
    A very well-done telling of the ingenious plan to mislead the Nazis before the invasion of Sicily. It was audacious and elaborate but well-coordinated in its scope to stage the death of an important curiour and make sure his body and papers were found by the Germans in a circuitous manner not to draw suspicion. It is difficult to measure how well the plan worked but it did indeed have some impact when the Germans believed the ruse. It seems a difficult kind of story to tell in movie form but this film does it well. A top notch espionage film....more info
  • Fine account of elaborate wartime hoax... Good DVD from Fox
    This is a fine movie of wartime espionage, disinformation and deception. Based on the book by Lt. Cmdr. Ewen Montagu, it tells of British Naval Intelligence's attempt to deceive the Germans about the planned 1943 invasion of Sicily. Trying to draw as many German troops away from Sicily as possible, they concocted a plan to have a dead body wash ashore in Spain, with papers purportedly from Allied High Command indicating that the invasion would go by way of Greece or Sardinia instead of Sicily. The subterfuge succeeded. The Germans embarked on a massive build up of defences around Sardinia and the Greek Peloponnesus, thinning out their defences on Sicily. The hoax affected not only the Sicilian offensive but had effects across the entire European theater. Hitler swallowed it whole. Field Marshall Erwin Rommel was sent to personally supervise the defence of Greece. The 1st Panzer Division was withdrawn from France. Two other Panzer divisions were withdrawn from the Russian front just when they were needed at the crucial Battle of Kursk. Operation Mincemeat, as it was called, was one of the most ingenious and successful hoaxes perpertrated by the Allies during the Second World War.

    This is a war movie with little battlefront action. It concentrates on the quiet background work of the Intelligence Service. The first half of the movie deals with the hatching of the plan, the procurement of the dead body, the faking of the dead man's history and the drawing up of his elaborate cover story. The fictional officer is christened "Major William Martin" of The Royal Marines. The second half starts when the Germans fall for the ruse and send a spy over to England to check out its veracity. There follows a cat and mouse game as the British try to tie up loose ends and fill in the fake history they have put together for the dead man, including his purported girlfriend. The movie is always absorbing, often rivetingly so. It is one of the few WW2 espionage films that have stood the test of time. The fact that it was a true story makes it doubly interesting.

    Fox have released a barebones edition of the film on DVD. It contains both the widescreen version in its original 2.55:1 Cinemascope (enhanced for widescreen TV) and a fullscreen pan-&-scan version. The widescreen version strangely is placed on the unmarked flipside of the double-sided DVD. Picture quality is fine, very good in fact if you consider this film dates from 1955. There is very little dirt, speckling or any print damage. Colors are strong and bright. Skintones look natural. Black levels are well rendered. The pan-&-scan version version looks terrible in comparison, with a claustrophobic, darker image, heavier grain and a softer picture overall. Sound is available in the original English 2.0 mono, a 4.0 Surround remix as well as alternate Spanish and French 2.0 mono tracks. A single theatrical trailer is all that's included. A fine memento of wartime subterfuge and deception with solid acting and direction from a time when there was still a viable British Film Industry.

    Note: The grave at Huelva, on the southern coast of Spain still bears the name "Major William Martin". The real identity of the dead man was kept secret for over 50 years. It was only in 1996 that he was finally identified as a homeless alcoholic Welshman. Today, across the bottom of the white marble tombstone is an added epitaph, finally revealing his identity, "Glyndwr Michael served as Major William Martin"....more info
  • The British Style of Warfare
    Britain has traditionally been a naval power but never
    had a large standing army. This has prodded its military
    planners to think in unconventional terms in striking
    at its enemies. This means using its naval forces to
    move stealthily around its continental enemies
    using naval forces and to try to use deception
    to get the enemy off guard, rather than confronting
    them head on. The failed First World War operation at Gallipoli was
    a good example of this, trying to strike at Germany
    "through the back door", rather than just head on
    in the blood-soaked trenches of Flanders on the
    Western Front.
    In the Second World War, all the British leaders and
    senior officers
    had been traumatized by the slaughter of the
    First World War and were desperate to come up with
    ways of avoiding a replay. Thus, in 1943, after North
    Africa had been cleared of Axis forces, the British
    military leaders sought a way to distract the Germans
    from the obvious next target, which was Sicily.
    The result was deception of "Operation Mincemeat" which is portrayed
    in this excellent film. The film is based on Ewen
    Montagu's book "The Man Who Never Was". This film
    is of a long-lost genre of films which are riveting
    in spite of the fact that they don't have any "action",
    (i.e. shoot-outs, fist fights, car chases, etc), like another of my favorites "Twelve Angry Men".
    A close observation of the film shows, beside the main
    story, a lot of other information showing what wartime
    Britain was like, such as how London became run-down
    and grimy during the long years of bombing and austerity,
    how the British learned to take the air raids in stride,
    the resignation to the on-going deaths of relatives and
    and the shortages of quality consumer goods. In addition,
    we see the manifestations of the traditionally tense relationship between
    Britain and Ireland as well as Scotland. For military
    buffs, there is a brief look at the legendary Mosquito
    fighter/bomber and the unsung British submarine force (as
    compared to those of the United States and the German
    U-Boat force).
    One thing to keep in mind is that while Montagu makes
    no mention of German efforts to authenticate the existence
    of "Major Martin", the film devotes a considerable part
    of its plot to that, which I assume is "overdramatized"
    to keep the interest of the audience. The film claims
    that the German (actually Irish) agent actually gets in
    contact with someone who had a part in the whole operation,
    and I doubt whether this is factual. However,
    this is a minor point and does not detract from the excellence of the film....more info
  • Excellent Movie
    Based on an actual event in World War II, and adapted for the screen, an excellent espionage story. ...more info
  • What a surprise
    I loved this movie. It is a true story told honestly. It holds you in suspense like any good thriller. Of course it is dated, but that adds to its quality. Also, it was in color and I feel that helped. Very few people know that a corpse played a very important part in WWII when it was used as a decoy by the British to fool the Germans that they planned an invasion in a different place to where it did happen. The Germans were not fools, and they sent an Irish agent to check out the corpse story. That was where it got really exciting. For its age and subject matter, the movie was quite impressive. Also the dvd has excellent quality color and sound. It survived surprisingly well over the years. You won't be disappointed if you like WWII movies....more info
  • Great British Naval Movies
    I liked this movie very much. It went into great but not overwhelming detail about the British Naval Intelligence Service during WWII. The detail the British went through to confuse the Germans was phenominal and was very adequately portrayed in the movie. David Niven playing the lead did a good job of portraying the methodical British Naval officer in charge of the detail. Another great British Naval movie had two names. The first one was "The Persuit Of The Graf Spee" and then released as "The Battle Of The River Plate". It was filmed in great color and was about the battle off South America between the German pocket battleship Graf Spee and 3 cruisers, two British and one New Zealand: The Ajax, Exeter and Achilles. The Graf Spee was portrayd by the US Navy's heavy cruiser USS Salem and because of the difference in US and British ship construction the look of the Graf Spee was very different from the British ships and therefore much more believable. This movie has been out of print for some time and as of two years ago there were no plans to make it available...more info
  • A dead man goes to war
    The true story of the British attempt to lay some heavy disinformation on the Axis in World War II. Clifton Webb plays Lt. Cmdr. Ewen Montagu, the British naval commander who is both mastermind and chief promoter of The Plan, an elaborate concoction of forged papers, misleading faux orders, a convincing back story, and a suitable corpse meant to mislead the enemy about the Allied intentions prior to the invasion of Italy. I don't suppose it's giving too much away to report that things more or less go as planned (although the suspicious Germans do send spy Stephen Boyd in to liven up the last third of the film.) Even though this is indeed a war movie, bang-bang stuff, THE MAN WHO NEVER WAS practically wallows in minute details while eschewing the firefight and the foxhole. That's not to say it doesn't have its share of situational suspense - are those depth charges going to sink the sub and scuttle the movie? - but detail is much preferred over violent action.

    Along with the likes of Monty Woolley, Webb more or less cornered the market on playing stuffy, condescending Englishmen. Here Webb's strength, a stiff and rather formal persona who needs a baby-sat seven-year-old to evoke his humanity, is put to good use. There are no kids around and Webb doesn't unbend, but this movie doesn't care that much about the personal life of its characters, anyway, save for poor Gloria Grahame, who's given the rather thankless task of shedding some plot-directed tears and seems rather out of place for her troubles.

    Even though it's clinical and relatively bloodless - in every sense of the word - THE MAN WHO NEVER WAS is a great deal of fun. Director Ronald Neame lovingly dwells on every step of the preparation, through to the execution of the caper, and has us deeply involved when the whole thing is threatened with the appearance of the Boyd character. THE MAN WHO NEVER WAS is a fine, thoughtful film that should appeal to those who aren't necessarily great fans of action war movies.
    ...more info
  • WWII Intrigue
    A pleasant, predictable movie. If you like WWII spy type movies, you will enjoy this one. Not much action and the acting is a bit on the bland side, but still fun to watch....more info
  • The Man who never was
    Here is a story true in every way of zeal & desperation, when the world was tearing itself apart. Here was a team dedicated to the overthrow of Hitlers Europe, in order to achive this they had to create a ingenous deception in order that a foothold onto the continent of Europe could be achieved.
    Britain had stood alone & had taken much from Hitlers might. The story is set around the death of a young scotsman who in death becomes the central player with the help of his supporting cast weave a brilliant plan of action without a gun being fired.This is a must watch movie though dated it has everything holding you to the end & yes the children can watch & learn of what did happen & must never happen again....more info
  • Tales of British wartime Derring-Do!
    It IS a true tale and a lot of the detail is correct - till about half way through when an "Irish spy" arrives in the UK on behalf of the Germans. Not needed in the real world story - the twist is needed to add some tension at the end of the film.

    Clifton Webb acts like Clifton Webb - that is to say like a plank of wood! However for the period it is well done.

    Spot the pennant number on a Castle Class frigate in the background of one scene and then go and watch "The Cruel Sea". Guess the Admiralty "lent" the British cinema the same ship in more than one movie!

    Topical (early 2008) because as of late the identiy of the "body" used in the real war has become subject of fresh debate....more info
  • One of Clftons great ones
    I love all of Clifton Webb films, this one really extracts his serious side of acting. great film of the era, he is truly the one of the best actors of his time....more info
  • The Man Who Never Was
    A world war 2 story with a very unusual twist. It held my interest throughout the movie. The acting was so good, I beleived all the events to be true. I would recommend it to all. Movie buff-Ann...more info
  • A true story brought to life in classic British war movie
    In what was one of the most successful and infamous deceptions of World War II British intelligence fooled the entire Nazi war machine - and all with the help of a man who never existed.
    The deceptions that British intelligence pulled off prior to the D-Day landings are now well-known and well documented - from Gen. Patton being in charge of a fake army to the use of double agents. The allies were able to keep vital German panzer tanks and troops away from the Normandy beaches as Hitler kept his attention on the Calais region.
    Yet even before this British intelligence scored another coup by diverting German attention away from the imminent invasion of Sicily by making the Germans believe that Greece and perhaps Sardinia were the actual targets.
    They did this by creating the man who never was. Taking the body of a man whose condition could be interpreted as having died from drowning, dressing him in clothes with accompanying documentation and casting him off from a submarine just off the coast of Spain. All with the goal that the body and the vital top secrets it carried being intercepted by the Nazi's.
    It was an inspired scheme and this movie, in much the same vein as the similar true-life deception movie I WAS MONTY'S DOUBLE really shines. It's thoroughly entertaining and well acted throughout. For fans of classic British war movies this is a must for your collection and I'm very happy to see it land on DVD....more info
  • Great old time British film

    This film would have been much more famous if Hitchcock had directed it. Ronald Neame does and excellent job. A true story of the Second World War with great locations (another good chance to get a look at the Spain of those times). But the fact that it is a true historical story makes it interesting enough.

    Besides, there's Gloria Graham doing an amazingly wonderful performance. It just amazed me how well she was in this role.

    This is the second film by Neame that I watch (after Tunes of Glory, which is even better) and both are wonderful movies.
    Typical, I would say, of the good-natured, common-man, and respectul films the British used to do before the Beatles generation. A bygone era of which this film reminds me with melancholy.

    The only thing that lessens a bit the value of "The Man Who never Was", in my opinion, is the other female character, who does not do such an excellent job as the rest of the cast.
    ...more info
  • The man who never was
    One of the best WWII movies ever made. Beautifully done. Webb is very believable....more info
  • A Taut, Clever, Well Made WWII Thriller
    In the Fifties Britain produced a number of well made WWII movies that recaptured the valor and victories of British arms. The war was past and the civilian deprivations that had lasted well after the war were going away. It was time to celebrate what Britain had accomplished. The Man Who Never Was is among these movies. It tells the true story of Lt. Cmdr. Ewen Montague (Clifton Webb), a barrister who now is in Naval Intelligence, who has been charged to come up with a scheme that will convince the Germans that the Allies will not mount a major effort to invade Sicily. His solution is named Operation Mincemeat, and involves using a body as a decoy. I won't go into the details because the fun is in seeing just how Montague and his small staff, an aide and a secretary, go about it. But having accomplished their assignment, they are faced with the likelihood that the Germans will try hard to verify what they are being led to believe. The second half of the movie is a tight little drama where Montague has to outwit an Irishman who has become a German agent.

    Webb is quite effective playing Montague. There's almost none of the prissiness he brought to most of his roles. He's quiet, determined and smarter than many around him. He has a sharp tongue but seldom shows impatience. It's a nice job. Gloria Grahame plays a young woman who provides an important piece of evidence establishing the body's history, and then unknowingly faces the Irish agent.

    In my view, this is a very watchable film that keeps moving at a good pace. Ronald Neame was an experienced, effective director who knew what he was doing. Two of his best films and well worth watching are The Horse's Mouth and Tunes of Glory.

    And for those who appreciate a stiff upper lip and immaculate British manners, here are some of those Fifties WWII movies to track down: The Colditz Story, Ice Cold in Alex, The Battle of the River Platte, Ill Met by Moonlight, I Was Monty's Double, Above Us the Waves, The Cruel Sea. I like them all.

    There are no extras to speak of. The DVD picture looks very good...more info
  • The Photography
    I saw this movie in a movie house the year it was released in the U.S.A. As I recollect viewing the movie, it was released in the Cinemascope format; essentially a "Letter Box" format. The DVD format starts with a letter box introduction, but then switches to the "Pan and Scan" format. For myself, I find the visual impact I remember of the movie has been lost by using the Pan & Scan format. Every scene looks like it was shot using telephoto lenses, giving the visual effect of always seeing a "Close-up"; it feels like reading a book only four inches away from your eyes. The breadth of the scenes has been lost, significantly diminishing the visual parts of the film. They should re-issue it in letter box format - I would be happy to buy a letter box version. ...more info
  • Great simple spy thriller
    I never knew of this film but now that I have seen it I feel it is one of the better thriller spy films I have seen. Also, it is not so over the top as any film version of it of today would be. No crazy car chase, no massive explosions... Sometimes simple is better....more info
  • Good as Ever
    I first saw this movie as a kid when it came out. The opening is magisterial: a body washed up on a lonely Cinemascope beach at dawn, and a mature male, Scottish accented voice-over reciting the doom-laden lines:

    "Last Night I dreamed a deadly dream,
    That beyond the Isle of Skye,
    I saw a dead man win the fight
    And I think that man was I."

    The scene and the words stayed with me through the years to this day. I have just watched the DVD. The movie remains taut, swift, detailed, unfussy, truly a remarkable yarn very well told and acted. No gore, no chases, no explosions, the tech is low, the methods rigorously parsed and distilled, but at the core remaining improvisatory, as one reads they were during the war. This film sees itself as having no need to impress in any way other than by having believable, life-sized characters, develop the tale efficiently and well. So refreshing, these days.

    The movie hasn't aged. Seeing it as a kid led me to read the book. I don't think I will re-read it, but I can certainly envision playing the DVD again and sharing it with friends. Clifton Webb is superb in a role which illustrates what a multifaceted, wonderful actor he was. He has a way of showing brains and wisdom without calling attention to himself. The sort of behaviour one would expect from a consummate intelligence operative. Good script and top-notch acting.

    Notwithstanding Cinemascope and the war-pic trappings, this is an economical, concise film which tells a gripping tale and goes by fast. But that poem and that body on the lonely beach linger in the imagination.

    ...more info
  • It's out on dvd .hurrah
    I had been waiting for years for this gem of a
    movie to make it to dvd.What stands out for me
    is the brilliant British mind that could have
    conceived of such an ingenious idea.Knowing that
    this is a true story really packs a powerful
    punch while you are watching it.This however
    is not the only great British movie about a
    true ww2 plot.If you enjoyed this movie then
    I think you will also truly enjoy
    " I Was Monty's Double".The actor who plays
    field marshall Montgomery in the movie is the
    actor who really was the double for Montgomery
    during ww2.His name was Clifton James and he
    wrote a book ( I Was Monty's Double) about his experience of pretending
    to be Monty during ww2.This movie however is currently
    only available on dvd at Amazon U.K. ...more info
  • The Man Who Never Was
    An old-fashioned, well told tale of a true story from WWII. This movie tells the story of Major William Martin, a man who did not exist, yet made a significant contribution to the Allied war effort. Clifton Webb, a rather prissy actor, makes a very good, unsuspectedly cerebral Commander Montague, but Gloria Graham as a brash American librarian is the character who sticks with you ... her contribution to the war effort is unwitting and almost as important as Major Martin's. A great escape from a crappy news day movie, a journey back to another time....more info
  • The man who never was
    A movie version of a real WW II history, that save many lives. at the time of production the name of the dead body was a military secret, recently was declassified, and the body belong to a mental institution patient with no relatives. The facts of the preparation of the body are accurate the romantic part is fiction to adorn the film.
    hose who need to know the sacrifices made by allied countries to defeat he axis, including the creation of of a fake Maj. Martin RM, the creation of a life around him. For those who love WW II history is a must see....more info
  • Well done fact-based movie
    "The Man Who Never Was" is a well-done fact-based wartime-deception movie.

    Essentially, the British devise a plan to fool the Germans into thinking that Sicily will not be a target for invasion. They concoct a history and background for "the man" who will be used to present the deception to the Germans.

    Clifton Webb ("Laura", "Cheaper by the Dozen") plays the real-life mastermind of the plan Ewen Montagu, and Stephen Boyd ("Ben-Hur", "Fantastic Voyage") plays the counter-spy.

    Supporting roles by Gloria Grahame, Cyril Cusack and others are quite good. Peter Sellers is the uncredited voice of Winston Churchill.

    Highly recommended as one of the better "deceptive plans" movies which includes the popular "The Eagle Has Landed" and my favorite, "Thirty Six Hours" with James Garner.

    The DVD cover is strange in that although Clifton Webb wears civilian clothes only in the last scene, he is never in the golden countryside and never looks at airplanes in the sky (which appear to be unidentified American P-47's which is possible in Europe, or the earlier Pacific theater SBD Dauntless...funny how movie people take license with their own movies :-)

    Still - jolly good show, and cheap on sale, too. Subtitles, chapters and a trailer are the only extras.

    ...more info
  • Fantastic, because it based on a unbelieveable true story
    If this was a fictional story it still would be a good story.The plot seems proposterous and not within the relm of reallity, but it actually worked and is credited with saving thousands of lives both American and British. Patton and Montgomery would have had a much harder time taking Sicily if not for this brillient piece of espinoage. No vulgar language, no gore, just a good movie to watch. Well worth your time....more info
  • Brought Back Some Good Memories
    I first saw this great film when I was a kid. It was nice to view it again. It doesn't have any special effect or car race, but it is still a good suspenful thriller. Thank to the family who donated the body of their son to serve the effort of the war and thank to the British Intelligence Officer who thought of the deceiving plot, many British lives were saved. It was well worth the money to see it again and to lend it to my children. You'll enjoy it, I promise you. To you "Man who Never was" thank you....more info
  • Another one of the "It couldn't happen but did" stories.
    When I first saw this film in the early 70's, I thought it was just a stylized WW2 picture then after doing some historical research I amazedly, found it to be a true story. The cinematography and acting is good comnsidering the date it was filmed. The movie makers even found a way to put some humor into this very grisly story, in that the British officer talking to Clifton Webb, finds the operation find it to be "...the most outrageous, disgusting, preposterous and barbaric idea I have ever heard, but have the plans at the Admiralty by 4:30 tomorrow afternoon." All in all a very historically accurate and entertaining film...more info
  • Very clever story and very suspenseful..Beautiful print from Fox!
    This is a film that one can easily learn too much about by reading about it;sometimes, even product descriptions or the DVD box can give away plot points! If you like spy-espionage-suspense films without all the action, derring-do then you will most likely love this film based on a true WW2 incident. Clifton Webb is his "stiff upper lip" best in this film.
    A subtle, yet gripping film and one that warrants repeat viewings. (I.M.H.O.)
    ...more info
  • A great flick.
    I loved the attention to detail on generating the history of the "Man Who Never Was". this had me wondering what they would miss. Would they miss anything?

    You'll love it....more info

  • The Man Who Never Was
    A true war time adventure.Clifton Web did a great performance.A clever plan to fool the Germans....more info
  • Cheers for The Man Who Never Was
    I had always tought of clifton Webb as that weird guy who starred only in The Stars And Stripes For Ever, A 1950's verson of The Titanic and Cheaper By The Dozen. He comes a accross as a brilliant ex attorney, an Hercules Poirot type almost, trying to think one step ahead of the Gerries in this wonderful espionage thriller.
    True there are no big battle scenes but how all the pieces come together and the tension that builds when the German spy comes to check on things was masterful. Everything fits.
    I had read the book on this tale at 15 and now at 42 have seen the film for the first time and give it 4 + stars....more info
  • The Body on the Beach
    The body of a dead British officer washes ashore on a Spanish beach; he has on him documents alluding to British forces landing in Greece. Before the Nazis rush from Sicily (where the Brits actually will land) to Greece, they send an agent to London to determine if the intelligence is genuine. That's the intrigue in this intriguing docudrama financed by Hollywood (thus the miscasting of Clifton Webb and Gloria Grahame) but made by English director Ronald Neame on real locations using English actors.

    Cast against type, Webb is suitably correct. Grahame, an Oscar winner for "The Bad and the Beautiful," however, is embarrassing in a key but contrived role as a librarian whose flyer lover is killed. As the Nazi agent snooping around London, the handsome Stephen Boyd dominates the last quarter of the film with steely charm, reminding us again what a loss his early death was to films in the 1950s. And it's nice to see Sir Cyrl Cusack and Joan Hickson (later Miss Marple on television) in bit parts.

    What's not so nice (in the version I saw) is the shameful DVD transfer, which begins and ends in the original Cinemascope but throughout reformats to full screen, diminishing the reach of the actual locations and the re-creation of wartime London. This true story, especially the invention of a non-person's whole life, ranks with John LeCarre's tales and "Five Fingers" (still unreleased on DVD) as one of Hollywood's better espionage films. "The Man Who Never Was," considering what he achieved, deserved more respect. ...more info
    I really enjoy the 'behind the scenes' stories of WWII. This is a great movie depicting one of the real heroes....more info
  • Operation Mincemeat: A Retelling Of A True WWII Gambit
    In 1942 Allied powers greatly desired to invade Sicily--a fact of which Axis powers were well aware and against which the island was greatly fortified. In an effort to trick the Nazi military, British intelligence agents Flight Lt. Charles Cholmondeley and Lt. Commander Ewen Montagu came up with a clever plan: a body, bearing papers indicating that the major Allied attack would come elsewhere, was floated in to Spanish waters. Although technically neutral, Spain was sympathetic to the Nazis, and with any luck the papers would be thought genuine and reach German hands.

    Although top secret even after the war, a good story is hard to keep down, and after numerous leaks Montagu himself was allowed to write an account of the deception. Titled THE MAN WHO NEVER WAS, the book was an overnight bestseller and the 1956 film version proved very popular as well. In retelling the story on the screen, writer Nigel Balchin took a number of liberties with the story, most particularly in the creation of "Lucy Sherwood" (Gloria Graham), a character who exists largely in order to provide a touch of love and pathos; even so, the film is very accurate in terms of the operation itself and how it was carried out.

    Clifton Webb is perhaps best recalled for his waspish roles in such celebrated films as LAURA, but he sets aside his mannerisms for the role of Montagu and drives the action of the film in a remarkably capable manner, well supported by Robert Flemyng as assistant Lt. George Acres (based on Charles Cholmondeley) and Josephine Griffin as Pam, his secretary. Stephen Boyd does well in the Irish-accented role of Nazi agent Patrick O'Reilly, a semi-fictional character, and Gloria Graham, always a memorable performer, scores heavily in the role of Lucy Sherwood.

    he film is essentially about process--finding the right body, planting the papers, arranging for the body to be transported, and so on--and as such it moves a fast clip, with director Ronald Neame (an Oscar-winning screenwriter perhaps best now known as director of such films as I COULD GO ON SINGING, THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE, and THE POSEIDON AVENTURE) keeping everything moving at a good clip. The DVD offers excellent picture and sound, as well as the choice between wide screen and full screen. If you know nothing about Operation Mincemeat, you'll find it fascinating stuff--and if you do know about Operation Mincemeat you'll still find the film entertaining on its own. Recommended.

    GFT, Amazon Reviewer
    ...more info
  • British intelligence at its finest hour. An amazing film in any way.
    This is one of the most meticulously well told espionage stories ever!

    Clifton Webb gives a stunning performance as the cold Lt. Commander Mantagu, whose mission is to create a diversion tactic to lure the Germans away from the real Italian location the British plan to invade. So he thinks of the most daring, sophisticated and simple plan of them all: to have a dead British officer carrying top secret information falling on the hands of the Germans. But the plan is not easy and every detail must be calculated with care as the Germans will know the information is too good, therefore, they will investigate the dead man's life in order to spot any fabrication.

    Most of the film revolves around the making of the "the man" - getting the right body, producing the documents, finding him a personal life, preserving him from decomposing... and launching him from a submarine into a beach in Spain where the sharpest German operator is certain to find him.

    Then it all becomes a psychological game as the British try to understand what response will come from the Germans. Did they buy it? Did they disregard him as an obvious lie? So the Germans send a top spy into Britain to investigate the life of such a valuable man - too valuable to be true.

    So this is NOT a spy film like most. It has no fight or combat scenes and most of the action is pretty much like The Spy Who Came in from the Cold - both films even share the same cinematographer. Put on top of it all the fact that this is a British film and you'll get all the elegance, pace and charm of the best WWII films.

    Also impressive is that this is a CinemaScope film made in 1955 with a gorgeous cinematography by Oswald Morris (Lolita, The Guns of Navarone, The Odessa File and The Man Who Would Be King).

    The DVD comes with two versions of the film (one on each side of the disc): the CinemaScope version and the unacceptable Pan&Scan version that completely destroys the CinemaScope's beautiful frame composition.

    I admit that after having seen Clifton Webb on other films like Laura and Cheaper By the Dozen, I was afraid he would not look convincing as an Intelligence officer... but Clifton Webb was really an amazing actor and his portrayal of Lt. Montagu is stunningly precise.

    Recommended....more info
  • Timeless story of wartime deceit
    When I found this movie was available on DVD I had to buy it. The story is so fantastic and yet it is based on fact. The English cast play their parts in such a believable way. Stephen Boyd is excellent as the spy - bringing a very deadly edge to the story. There are no CGI effects in this movie - it was made in the 1950's. Never the less it is an extremely entertaining and involving film. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a well told World War II story....more info
  • THE MAN WHO NEVER WAS--A very memorable war picture!!
    My son asked me to purchase some WWII DVD's for him this past Christmas. Sadly, I wasn't able to include the best NAVAL WWII movies which were made by the British. Two of the best of them were The Man Who Never Was and Sink The Bismark. Sadly neither of these titles are available on DVD. Both are better than just about any of the American WWII movies (yes, I'm an American). Both of these movies are based on TRUE stories (Unlike Disney's latest Pearl Harbor movie!!), only the minor characters are fictional. If you ever see the Man who Never Was you will never forget it. The story is about a true scheme which the Brits used to make the Germans believe the southern European landings were going to be in a different location than the real one. They discuss how to do this and come up with the idea of obtaining a body of a young man, which they are going to dress up as an officer with invasion plans for another location than the one intended. The movie spends a lot of time explaining how they got the body, what they had to do to fake all this, including figuring out on which European beach they should have the body wash ashore. Unlike most American movies, you really get an excellent view of what it's really like to plan CIA type operations. Wonderful movie. You will love all the characters, even the villains!! Lots of naval action from the highest to the lowest commands. Buy it.
    Neither is "Sink the Bismark", which I remember seeing in college back in the early '60's. I remember it vividly because the auditorium in which it was shown allowed the audience to "attack and sink" the Bismark using paper airplanes!! This movie is also terrific. It too is VERY British. It too explains why the British Navy was so awesome in WWII. It also has great actors in great roles. Super movie. Both of these movies are the best in WWII movies. Now if I could just remember the name of the British naval movie which tells the story of the naval war off the coast of South America!! Yet another wonderful British Naval movie!!
    The Man Who Never Was has scenes which should bring tears to your eyes, if you are the least bit sensitive!! Good movie to get your gal into crying on your shoulder!! (And that actually happened as well ;-)...more info
  • Fun, suspenseful movie
    This DVD is in fine condition and the movie is well done as well as exciting and fun to watch. My husband and I both enjoyed it despite our different tastes when it comes to movies....more info
  • "Being All Washed-Up" In a Good Way
    This is such a great movie, and if I had never seen it, I would not have known of this ingenious ploy created to out-fox the Germans in WWII. It involves planting false information on a body that is then allowed to wash up upon a critical shore. The Germans recover the body, analyze the false information and papers on the body, consider them geunine, and make battle plans accordingly, thinking they have a real "find." Instead they fall into a well-planned trap. Clifton Webb is excellent in his part, as is the "body."...more info
  • One of the finest WW II films of the 1950s
    Although the film was a ostensibly a 20th Century Fox production, THE MAN WHO NEVER WAS was filmed in England using primarily English crew and cast (though American leads). It belongs to a tradition of English war films in which aspects of the war are treated slowly, deliberately, and with great precision. While in the US war films tended to feature John Wayne leading Marines into combat, the British tended to focus much more on the preparation and plans of operations. For instance, the very fine film THE DAM BUSTERS features very little in the way of actual combat. And THE MAN WHO NEVER WAY has no combat whatsoever.

    The movie is based on a book by the same name about Operation Mincemeat, in which the British attempted to mislead the Germans about the intended invasion spot for D-Day by planting a corpse with fake papers on a beach in Spain, knowing that the Spanish would pass the papers onto the Germans. The entire movie is involved with the formation of the plan, and then creating the man who never was, creating his papers and personal effects. On one level, not much happens in the film, but on another it is one of the most fascinating films ever made about the war, because of the practical problems they deal with in the executing of the operation. Knowing that it was all based upon real events greatly adds to the appeal of the film.

    Clifton Webb, who was in fact far too old for the part, turns in a convincing performance as Lieutenant Commander Montagu. In most of his films he comes across as arrogant, but in this one he instead communicates competence and intelligence. Gloria Grahame is excellent as the primary female presence in the film. If you look carefully, you can spot Stephen Boyd in a small role, a few years before he would portray Messala in BEH-HUR....more info

  • Interesting Cameo
    I could write how excellent this film is, but since Ewen Montagu was my great grandfather, I might be slightly biased! Having said that, viewers might be interested to know that Ewen Montagu has a cameo role in the film in the scene where the plot is being discussed among senior members of the British
    Army and Navy. Enjoy!...more info
    MAN WHO NEVER WAS (Fox) begins with a wide view of a deserted Spanish beach. It's 1943. As a body is washed into view, a clipped British voice intones:

    "Last Night I dreamed a deadly dream
    Beyond the Isle of Skye.
    I saw a dead man win the fight
    And I think that man was I."

    So begins a classic World War II espionage thriller that tells the audacious but true story of "Major William Martin." The name's made up, his true identity a secret, but even in death "Major Martin" pulled off a daring deception that misled the Nazi's into diverting their defenses, convinced the Allies would invade Greece or perhaps Sardinia instead of Sicily.

    Clifton Webb stars as Lt. Commander Montagu, creator of the plan to send a carefully picked dead body, tricked out as a drowned English officer complete with personal artifacts and actual but untrue letters from and to top military leaders, to wash up on a specific Spanish coast where it was likely to fall into german hands.

    But when the Germans do get hold of the body, everything about it seems too good to be true and they send an Irish agent, a young and menacing Stephen Boyd, to England to authenticate the identity of "William Martin."

    The race is on with British intelligence scrambling to stay ahead of the game with the Nazi agent who has targeted the "fiance" of "Martin."

    Even though this film was made 50 years ago, period detail is impeccable. The Cinemascope, ultra widescreen (aspect ration 2.55:1) composition is striking and there are no wasted scenes as the already taut, true story ratchets the tension in the last act.

    ...more info


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