The Man Who Never Was

1956 WWII movie

Rating: 16/20

Plot: The English want to attack the Axis in Sicily, but they don't want them to find out about it before it happens. In order to convince them that they are actually going to attack in Greece, they plant some confidential information (basically a briefcase that has FYOBFFLOL ["For You Only Best Friend Forever Laugh Out Loud" for my non-military readers]) on a dead guy, take him for a submarine ride, toss him in the Mediterranean, and push him toward the shores of Southern Spain. The right people find the body, and a spy is sent to England to investigate this dead guy. Even though this sounds a little like Weekend at Bernies II, it's actually based on a true story.

This is a look at the chess game behind World War II, and I loved the cat-and-mouse game going on here. The first half of the movie is devoted to the meticulous scheming and all the arrangements they had to make for the plan to succeed. They're excellent heroes because they're smart heroes. They, Lieutenant Montagu and Lieutenant Acres played respectively by Clifton Webb and Robert Flemyng, also have good rapport and talk with each other with this dry English humor that gives this a little something extra. The second half brings the spy into the picture. He's smart as well, and there's a lot of fun and suspense in watching him try to find some evidence that the titular (I can't help myself) man is a fake while they run around trying to fill in the gaps. There's nothing flashy because there doesn't need to be anything flashy in this story where the truth is definitely more interesting than fiction. I like how director Ronald Neame (Tunes of Glory, A Man Could Get Killed, Man with a Million) focuses on the minutiae. The tiny details lend a realism. Cool little war movie!

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