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The Man Who Never Was (1956)

Approved | | War, Drama | 9 May 1956 (France)
True story of a British attempt to trick the enemy into weakening Sicily's defenses before the 1943 attack, using a dead man with faked papers.



(book) (as The Hon. Ewen Montagu C.B.E. D.L. Q.C.), (screenplay)

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Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »


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British Intelligence during World War II is trying to get the German High Command to shift its forces away from Italy prior to the invasion. To create the illusion that England is in fact planning to invade Greece, they plan to procure a dead body, plant secret papers on it, and arrange for the Spanish authorities to find it and send the papers on to the Germans. That's the plan, anyway. First they have to find a body that will look drowned, then create an identity for it that will pass German scrutiny. Based on a true story. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Terrifyingly true! Unbelievably real! See more »


War | Drama


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






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Release Date:

9 May 1956 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Der Mann, den es nie gab  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System) (magnetic prints)| (optical prints)



Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
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Did You Know?


The quote that opens and closes the movie, "Last night I dreamed a deadly dream, beyond the Isle of Sky, I saw a dead man win a fight, and I think that man was I" is from the song "The Battle of Otterburn," Child Ballad #161 and appears in a manuscript dated circa 1550. The original reads, "But I hae (have) dreamed a dreary dream, Beyond the Isle of Skye; I saw a dead man win a fight, And I think that man was I." See more »


When Lucy is stamping books at the library, the sound occurs just slightly before the stamp connects with each book. See more »


Adm. Cross: [Montagu has just informed him of the secret plan to use a freshly dead body as if it were a live person to fool the Nazis] It's the most outrageous, disgusting, preposterous, not to say barbaric idea I've ever heard, but work out full details and get back to me in the morning!
Lieutenant Commander Ewen Montagu: Thank you, sir!
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Crazy Credits

Military security and respect for a solemn promise have made it necessary to disguise the identity of some of the characters in this film; but in all other essentials this is the true story of "Major William Martin" See more »


Referenced in El ministerio del tiempo: Tiempo de espías (2017) See more »


Bless 'em All
Written by Fred Godfrey (1917)
Revised lyrics by Jimmy Hughes and Frank Lake (1940)
Additional lyrics by Al Stillman (1941)
Sung by the patrons of pub
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User Reviews

Perfect Webb in near-perfect film
22 May 2000 | by See all my reviews

Gripping in its adherance to detail, this film casts every role perfectly. The always underrated Gloria Grahame lends the film an unexpected emotional pop, and all others are perfectly in character in executing a complex plan. This movie demands its audience's attention and plays to your intelligence. In other words, it would never be made today! Well worth seeing.

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