The Man Who Never Was


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Time Out says

British Naval Intelligence (Webb, contained and stoat-like, and Flemyng, the straightman) cook up a plan to hoodwink the Germans over the 1943 invasion of Sicily: a corpse, dressed as a Royal Marines captain, with a briefcase containing a letter from Mountbatten (cheerfully supplied), is floated off from a submarine into the Med to be washed ashore in neutral Spain where the Nazis' top spy takes the bait. Swift, slightly antiseptic but very competently executed WWII yarn (based on a true story of British amateur ingenuity) with no onscreen combat, but instead careful and evocative London location work and a couple of tellingly acid touches (script by Nigel Balchin), notably in the acquistion of the corpse (Moultrie Kelsall, the bitten-back grieving father, winces from an old wound when informed that his proud Scottish son will perform a great deed for 'England'). The film, however, only really comes alive in its wholehearted contempt for the oily Irish spy (Boyd, most effectively bloodless) sent to London to check out the dead man's credentials and his backup (Cusack) who is if anything even more cynical and unpleasant. Peter Sellers supplied the voice of the PM giving the go ahead for the ultimately successful ruse. (From a book by Ewen Montagu.) JPy.

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