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The Man Who Never Was


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Product Details

  • Actors: Clifton Webb, Gloria Grahame, Robert Flemyng, Josephine Griffin, Stephen Boyd
  • Directors: Ronald Neame
  • Writers: Ewen Montagu, Nigel Balchin
  • Producers: André Hakim, Bob McNaught
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), French (Dolby Digital 1.0), Spanish (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: June 7, 2005
  • Run Time: 103 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (153 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007ZEOQE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,646 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Man Who Never Was" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Includes widescreen anamorphic and full-screen versions

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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.

Amazon.com

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

Customer Reviews

Very good story and very good acting.
nan
Clifton Web plays he man who does his best to fool the Germans during World War II.
Bwhami
One of the best WWII movies ever made.
Robert A. Scala

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

167 of 173 people found the following review helpful By Robert Moore HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 27, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
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.
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70 of 71 people found the following review helpful By dooby on July 19, 2005
Format: DVD
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.
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81 of 85 people found the following review helpful By J. Taylor on March 30, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
I rate "The Man Who Never Was" as an excellent and exciting World War II movie. Why can't movies be made like this anymore? Recent World War II movies are not accurate and place too much emphasis on effects. In my opinion, the more "special effects" a movie has, the more fake it is. Anyhow, "The Man Who Never Was" describes the true events of the British trying to confuse the Germans as to where the Allies will invade - Sicily or Greece. By arranging to have a dead body wash ashore in Spain with top-secret documents, the British cause the Germans to alter their defenses, thus saving the Allies from suffering even more casualties. How the British found a body, the details that they had to come up with to make the Germans believe the body was for real, and the subsequent German effort to determine whether or not the information found on the body was accurate, all make for an exciting story which moves at a swift pace. This is really a great World War II movie.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 29, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
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.
---UNFORTUNATELY IT IS NOT AVAILABLE ON DVD YET!!!----
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.
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