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 <email@example.com>
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 »
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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