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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.

Director:

Ronald Neame

Writers:

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

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Cast

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. Coburn
Allan Cuthbertson ... Vice-Admiral
Joan Hickson ... Landlady
Terence Longdon ... Larry (as Terence Longden)
Gibb McLaughlin ... Club Porter
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

The most fiendish plot ever conceived! The most amazing "human being" ever created! The most diabolical phantom-- See more »

Genres:

War | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English | German | Spanish | Latin

Release Date:

9 May 1956 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Mann, den es nie gab See more »

Filming Locations:

London, England, UK See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Sumar Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)| Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In a rare straight role, an uncredited Peter Sellers impersonates the voice of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. See more »

Goofs

As the canister holding the corpse of "Major Martin" is winched out of the HMS Seraph, the last line of lettering on the side is seen to be mostly worn away and nearly illegible. In the very next scene as the canister is lifted onto the submarine's deck, the lettering is suddenly completely legible once more - "SPECIAL F.O.S. SHIPMENT". See more »

Quotes

Lieutenant George Acres: Monty, that parachute that didn't open... Suppose we were to drop a fellow out of a plane over enemy territory, with papers on him saying we were going to invade Greece, and his parachute didn't open. The Germans would find him dead, and the papers, and "Aha," they'd say, "Look at this. Officer with secret papers, parachute didn't open... they're going to invade Greece."
Lieutenant Commander Ewen Montagu: Do we tell the man who jumps that the parachute doesn't work, or is it a sort of practical joke that he finds out on the way ...
[...]
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 »

Connections

Referenced in Back to the Beach (1987) See more »

Soundtracks

Bless 'em All
(uncredited)
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
See more »

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User Reviews

 
excellent World War II drama
23 April 2006 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

"The Man Who Never Was" is a wonderfully suspenseful, well-done World War II drama starring Clifton Webb, Gloria Grahame, and Stephen Boyd. Superbly directed by Ronald Neame, the film is based on a true story - the planting of a dead body washed onto the Greek shore, which carries papers which will redirect the Axis away from an invasion of Italy planned by the Allies. In order to carry out this hoax, the Allies need the body of a man who died of pneumonia, which will mimic a drowning and fool the Nazis. The scene where such a man is located and Clifton Webb talks to the father is one of the most touching of the film, as is the poignant ending.

For all the accolades about his acting, it still seems that Clifton Webb is under-appreciated today - he goes from a vicious, fey gossip in "The Razor's Edge" to a difficult husband in "Titanic" to a strong, decisive, distinguished member of British Intelligence in this movie flawlessly. He is perfect as Montague. Stephen Boyd is excellent as an Irishman working undercover for the Nazis who appears in London to verify the existence of the dead soldier, who is given a fake identity. Gloria Grahame plays a woman who unexpectedly falls in love and winds up as part of the plot. She turns in a heartbreaking performance. The rest of the cast is uniformly good.

The movie's excitement comes not from action but from the tension of the situation. It's filmed in beautiful color. An excellent movie.


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