58 user 9 critic

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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Cast overview, first billed only:
Lt. Cmdr. Ewen Montagu
Lucy Sherwood
Robert Flemyng ...
Lt. George Acres
Josephine Griffin ...
Patrick O'Reilly
Adm. Cross
Geoffrey Keen ...
Gen. Nye
Moultrie Kelsall ...
The Father
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Gen. Coburn
Joan Hickson ...
Terence Longdon ...
Larry (as Terence Longden)
Gibb McLaughlin ...
Club Porter


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:





| | |

Release Date:

9 May 1956 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Der Mann, den es nie gab  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

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


Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In addition to providing the voice of Winston Churchill in two scenes of this film, Peter Sellers can also be heard as the voice coming over the airfield tannoy during the parachute demonstration and, very briefly, as the voice of an unseen taxi driver. See more »


The British submarine that releases the corpse of "Major Martin" is completely dry immediately after it surfaces from the ocean depths. See more »


Lieutenant George Acres: You know, Monty, what we really want is something absolutely simple, the simpler the better.
Lieutenant Commander Ewen Montagu: Good boy, George, you're absolutely right.
Lieutenant George Acres: Well, how about this: suppose we issue Greek dictionaries to all the troops. Why should we do that unless we intend to invade Greece? That would fool them.
Lieutenant Commander Ewen Montagu: I should make it Eskimo dictionaries. That would really fool them.
See more »

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 »


Featured in Operation Mincemeat (2010) 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

Based on a true story, and very well done
19 January 2001 | by (New Orleans, La.) – See all my reviews

Interesting, absorbing tale based on an actual British Intelligence operation during World War II. The casting (Clifton Webb is perfect in the lead role) was top notch, and the impeccable attention to even minor details was extraordinary. A fan of 'blood and guts' movies would be well advised to look elsewhere...this well-crafted little gem is for the connoisseur.

Stephen Boyd gave a very good performance as an Irish secret agent working for the Nazis. In several scenes, he could barely contain his contempt for the English people he encountered during his mission in London. At one point, after setting himself up for capture by counter-intelligence agents, he awaits their arrival with his Luger pistol, obviously hoping for a bloody showdown, and when the agents fail to appear, he is both relaxed and also angry at not getting to kill anyone. Subtle, yet amazing.

9 out of 10.

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