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The Man Who Never Was (1956)

Approved | | Drama, War | 9 May 1956 (France)
In order to fool the Germans into thinking the Allied invasion of Sicily will take place elsewhere, British Military Intelligence comes up with a cunning ruse.


Ronald Neame


Ewen Montagu (book) (as The Hon. Ewen Montagu C.B.E. D.L. Q.C.), Nigel Balchin (screenplay)
Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Clifton Webb ... Lt. Cmdr. Ewen Montagu
Gloria Grahame ... Lucy Sherwood
Robert Flemyng ... Lt. George Acres
Josephine Griffin ... Pam
Stephen Boyd ... Patrick O'Reilly
Laurence Naismith ... Adm. Cross
Geoffrey Keen ... Gen. Nye
Moultrie Kelsall ... The Father
Cyril Cusack ... Taxi Driver
André Morell ... Sir Bernard Spilsbury
Michael Hordern ... Gen. Cockburn
Allan Cuthbertson ... Vice-Admiral
Joan Hickson ... Landlady
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 Britain 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


The Strangest Military Hoax of World War II! See more »


Drama | War


Approved | See all certifications »

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Did You Know?


Average Shot Length = ~15.7 seconds. Median Shot Length = ~14.4 seconds. See more »


Two used theatre ticket stubs are placed in Wm Martin's effects in a scene preceding that of the show to which he supposedly went. See more »


Lieutenant Commander Ewen Montagu: Now, about dates. There's got to be something on him that will show when he left. I think I can fix to get a receipted bill from the Naval and Military Club -- he stayed there on his last night.
Lieutenant George Acres: And he went to the theatre. Final celebration. He has the stubs of the tickets in his pocket.
Lieutenant Commander Ewen Montagu: Item: two theatre tickets.
Lieutenant George Acres: Make it four, and for something worth seeing.
Lieutenant Commander Ewen Montagu: And what's going on in that bright little mind?
Lieutenant George Acres: Well, we've got to buy the tickets anyway, and Willie can't use them -- we might as well! ...
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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 »


Featured in Al Murray's Great British War Movies (2014) 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

A 'Hail Mary' Intelligence Gambit
20 October 2007 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

It's around Labor Day of 1943, the Afrika Korps has been kicked out of North Africa, what to do next for the Allies. In point of fact the next logical thing to do was what was done, invade Sicily and clear the route to the Suez Canal and take the pressure of the embattled British forces in Malta.

But there were policy differences because Americans wanted a cross channel invasion back then as the quickest way to defeat Hitler. So the Germans did in fact have to be vigilant on all fronts.

The Man Who Never Was is a true story on a particular intelligence gambit that was tried. A dead body was washed up in neutral, but Axis led Spain. A body selected for the occasion and dropped deliberately by the British showing alternate plans to the Axis.

Not being complete dummies the Germans naturally think to check it out and they send an agent in, a Nazi sympathizer from Ireland played by Stephen Boyd.

The whole idea was cooked up by Admiral Ewen Montagu played here by Clifton Webb who drops his usual acerbic manner and delivers a very good performance against type. Boyd's no fool and it becomes a battle of wits when the Allies learn of his presence in London.

In fact a certain sad, but serendipitous event in the life of Gloria Grahame who is Webb's secretary's roommate plays a key role in the proceedings.

The Man Who Never Was is a very good wartime espionage drama that still holds up very well for today's audience.

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English | German | Spanish | Latin

Release Date:

9 May 1956 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

The Man Who Never Was See more »

Filming Locations:

London, England, UK See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Sumar Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (magnetic prints)| Mono (Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See full technical specs »

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