The Man Who Never Was: British spy movie in 1956

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The Man Who Never Was movie is a British spy movie in 1956 produced by Andre Hakim and directed by Ronald Nehme, who stars Clifton Webb and Gloria Graham, and features Robert Fleming, Josephine Griffin, and Stephen Boyd. It is based on a book of the same name by First Lieutenant Commander Yuen Montagu and mentions Operation Mincemeat, a 1943 British intelligence plan to deceive the Axis powers into believing that the Allied invasion of Sicily would happen elsewhere in the Mediterranean.

The Man Who Was Never Before entered the 1956 Cannes Film Festival and Nigel Balchin’s script won the BAFTA Award for that year.

The story of the movie

In 1943, Royal Navy Lieutenant Ewen Montagu (Clifton Webb) devised a scheme to deceive the Nazis about the impending invasion of southern Europe that it required releasing a corpse off the coast of Spain, where strong currents would almost certainly wash ashore in an area where a German secret agent was operating Maher The body will appear as a victim of a plane crash, Major William Martin of the Royal Marines not present and who carries forged messages about an imminent Allied invasion of German-occupied Greece, instead of the apparent target of Sicily Time is short, but Montagu, who has run out of patience, finally gets approval to carry out Mission: Process minced meat.


On the advice of a medical expert, Montagu bought the body of a man who had died of pneumonia (so that he seemed to have drowned) from the grieving father and then, after proper preparations, he and his aide, Lieutenant Ackers (Robert Fleming), took the body (hidden in a box full of dry ice) into a submarine. The submarine is waiting, and the submarine travels to the Mediterranean Sea before it floats on the surface at night to free the body as hoped, the body is washed ashore on a Spanish beach and is processed by the local authorities, under the supervision of German and British consulate personnel after returning the attachment file that contains the letters To London, the laboratory expert confirms that the main message, describing the (fake) Allied attack in Greece, was intelligently opened and re-closed.


Hitler is convinced that the document is authentic, although Abwehr’s chief – Admiral Wilhelm Canares – a skeptic ordered Patrick O’Reilly (Stephen Boyd), an IRA spy, to send him to London for investigation. O’Reilly checks a story he has heard about Martin’s “fiancée”, Lucy Sherwood (Gloria Graham) is a Montagu aide’s roommate, Pam (Josephine Griffin) O’Reilly arrives at their apartment, pretending to be Martin’s old friend, on the same day Lucy received news of Real boyfriend killed while fighting.


Her true grief mostly convinced O’Reilly but as a last test, he gave Lucy his real address in North London and asked her to call him if she needed anything and then he would broadcast his German contacts to expect another message within an hour if no one was sent, that means That British intelligence had arrested him Montagu almost made the same mistake, but he realizes in time why O’Reilly left his address and, with some difficulty, persuades General Coburn (Michael Hordern) of the Scotland Yard branch to allow O’Reilly to leave after no one arrived at His apartment, O’Reilly sent “Authentic Martin!” Radio message.


The Germans then transferred most of their forces stationed in Sicily to Greece, making the Allied deception a success. After the war, Montagu leaves the central bank at the grave of “The Man Who Was Not”.

The roles of the actors of the movie

  • Clifton Webb as Lieutenant Commander. Ewen Montagu.
  • Gloria Graham as Lucy Sherwood.
  • Robert Fleming as Lt. George Akers.
  • Josephine Griffin as Pam.
  • Stephen Boyd as Patrick O’Reilly.
  • Lawrence Naismith as Admiral Crosse.
  • William Russell as Joe (Lucy’s fiancée).
  • Geoffrey Kane as General Archibald Nye.
  • Moltrey Kelsall as the father.
  • Cyril Cusack as a taxi driver.
  • André Morell as Sir Bernard Spelsbury.
  • Michael Horner as General Coburn.
  • William Squire as captain of the Bell Jewell submarine.
  • Alan Cuthbertson as Vice Admiral.
  • Joan Hickson as Landlord.
  • Terence Longdon as Larry.
  • Jeb McLaughlin as a club porter.
  • Gordon Bell is a customs officer.
  • Wolf frees the role of Admiral Wilhelm Canares (uncredited).
  • Ewen Montagu as Vice Marshal Joy (uncredited).
  • Peter Williams as Admiral Mountbatten (uncredited).

Results of the film after its release

The film earned an estimated $ 1.1 million in North American rents in 1956 and Radio Times wrote: “The image may seem overly revered by today’s standards but this is an important wartime espionage story well worth seeing.”


The BBC radio comedy show, The Goon Show, provided the storyline for The Man Who Never Was (based on the book) and incorporated most of the regular Goon Show characters written by Spike Milligan and Larry Stephens, the first version of the script comprising two-thirds of the episode that aired on March 31, 1953, before the film was released, with the first third featuring a separate graphic like most of these early episodes, this no longer exists.


Milligan and Stephens would later write a full version that was broadcast on March 20, 1956 Milligan later revised this script to broadcast the episode on February 17, 1958. Both newer releases were released on CD sets. Coincidentally, Peter Sellers (a member of the Goons family) provided the voice. Winston Churchill in the movie, although the character did not appear on the Goon Show.