The Man Who Never Was

Released 1956




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The Man Who Never Was

Movie Summary

Ronald Neame
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The Man Who Never Was (1956) tells the true story of a cunning British plot to mislead German intelligence over the invasion of Sicily in 1943. The corpse of a fallen British officer is floated off the coast of neutral Spain, whilst carrying what seems to be vital tactical information. Will the Germans believe the (actually quite false) information in these papers and assume the British intend to invade Greece instead? The screenplay is based on a memoir by the intelligence officer who devised the plan.


Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (3)

    • Robert Brown is dubbed in the role of Inspector French by Howard Marion Crawford.

    • The poem quoted before the credits at the start of the film is taken from an anonymous Scottish ballad of the mid-16th century: "Last night, I dreamed a deadly dream/Beyond the Isle of Skye/I dreamt a dead man won the fight/And I think that man was I."

    • The voice of Winston Churchill, which is heard twice in the film, was provided, like several other voices on the soundtrack, by an uncredited Peter Sellers.

  • QUOTES (3)

    • Admiral Cross: It's the most outrageous, disgusting, preposterous - not to say barbaric - idea I've ever heard. Work out full details and get them to me in the morning.

    • The Father: You English always say "England" when you mean "Britain".

    • Lt.-Cmdr. Ewen Montagu: [on being advised of the invasion plan]: Sicily, eh? Well, I suppose it's the obvious place.
      Admiral Cross: Yes. All too obvious.

  • NOTES (3)

    • Although Ewen Montagu was in his early forties at the time of "Operation Mincemeat", Clifton Webb, who plays him in this film, was much older, in his mid-60s. Webb also appears with a full naval beard, where Montagu was always clean-shaven - Webb refused to shave off his trademark pencil moustache for the film, and British naval officers of the 1940s were not allowed to wear moustaches without beards.

    • The true identity of "William Martin" was kept a secret for well over fifty years after the end of World War II and was unknown when this film was made. In the twenty-first century, a BBC television documentary revealed that the dead body used to fool the Germans was actually that of a penniless Welsh tramp, Glyndwr Michael, who had committed suicide. He had had no family. His name has since been inscribed upon the Spanish grave of "the man who never was".

    • This is based on the now-famous true story of "Operation Mincemeat" during World War II. However, the sub-plot involving an IRA agent spying for the Nazis is fictitious.


More Info About This Movie


Action & Adventure


Classics, Thrillers, Espionage