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The Great Impostor (1961)

Ferdinand Waldo Demara Jr. is a versatile man who gets his kicks out of impersonating a marine, a monk, a navy surgeon and a prison warden, eventually getting in trouble with the law for it.

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Writers:

(novel), (screenplay)
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2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Ferdinand Waldo Demara Jr. / Martin Donner / Dr. Gilbert / Ben. W. Stone / Dr. Joseph Mornay / Robert Boyd Hammnd
...
Father Devlin
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Capt. Glover - HMCS Cayuga
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Warden J.B. Chandler
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Pa Demara
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Lt. Catherine Lacey
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R.C. Brown
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Ma Demara
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Eulalie Chandler
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Cardinal
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Clifford Thompson
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Barney
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WAC Lieutenant
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Hotchkiss (as Richard Sargent)
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Storyline

Based on a true story, a bright young man who hasn't the patience for the normal way of advancement finds that people rarely question you if your papers are in order. He becomes a marine, a monk, a surgeon onboard a Canadian Warship, and a prison warden. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

No wonder millions who read the sensational best seller about incredible Fred Demara say it makes fiction seem tame...No wonder his story was featured 3 different times in LIFE See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

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Release Date:

1 May 1961 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El gran impostor  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Tony Curtis as Demara is shown boarding HMCS Cayuga (a Tribal Class destroyer) which was the actual ship the real Demara sailed in. See more »

Goofs

Curtis is assigned to HMCS Cayuga on 16 June 1951. However, in the Captain's cabin, the picture on the wall is of Queen Elizabeth II, who ascended the throne on 6 February 1952 on the death of her father, King George VI. Also the portrait appears to be the 1956 Annigoni painting of the queen. See more »

Connections

Referenced in NewsRadio: Stinkbutt (1999) See more »

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User Reviews

For every masquerade there comes a midnight hour
31 January 2018 | by See all my reviews

After a detailed reading R. Crichton's, " The Great Imposter," and viewing the movie, it becomes quite obvious that the movie only loosely follows Demara's actual charades and exploits. As a matter of fact, several of scenes in the movie: 1) The manure farmer- police car chase was fictitious, 2) Demara also impersonated Dr. Robert Litton French, as a Professor of Philosophy at Gannon University, 3) As Dr. Cecil Boyce Haman, a candidate for first year law courses at Northwestern University Law School, 4) Demara also enrolled in 10 Catholic monasteries across the county, under assumed identities, using forged documents. He either quit because they were catching on, or he could not endure the physical and spiritual demands of that order, 5) His impersonation in the Royal Canadian Navy was that of Canadian, Harvard-educated Dr. Joseph Cyr, whose complete academic records and personal history he acquired when they were fellow brothers at the "Brothers of Christian Instruction" in Maine. Demara was known then as "Brother John."

The sad irony of Demara's life was that he had the intellect to adapt, learn, survive and prosper in the systems and roles he assumed. He actually did the jobs perhaps equally to, or better than the individuals he impersonated, because he actually believed he had more to prove, to substantiate his value and authenticity. He actually gave more in dedication, effort and work to improve the jobs and positions he impersonated, than he took.

Demara believed he was fighting against an unfair, unjust and discriminatory system, which "starting point" judged a person not by their intellect, personal motivation, character, or ability to do the job,... but solely upon their academic credentials. Demara believed that, if you played by the rules, you either died as a hero, or lived long enough to see yourself become a villain. That the only sensible way to live in this world is without rules. Demara's impersonation of Surgeon Lt. Joe Cyr of the Royal Canadian Navy was the high point, and greatest challenge of his persona. He learned in 4 months reading medical books the equivalent of 5 years of medical school. He could read surgical procedures, memorize, and repeat them to perfection on the operating table.

His greatest disgrace was being uncovered after he completed 19 consecutive life saving surgeries on severely injured Korean War commando team members, when his meritorious actions were broadcast across the entire Canadian and American news media spectrum. Equally devastating was his loss of Lt. Nursing Sister Catherine Lacey, whom he deeply loved and intended to marry after resigning his commission from the RCN, upon his return from Korea.

Demara died at the age of 60, a miserable, lonely and broken man, who never got over loosing Catherine...who had only himself to blame.


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