Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Man Who Never Was

1956, US, directed by Ronald Neame

More evidence that suggests Ronald Neame hasn't quite been given his due as a director, without by the same token attempting to elevate him to the pantheon. The film is a reasonably straightforward account of the Second World War Operation Mincemeat, which was designed to deceive Germany about Allied intentions in the Mediterranean. Although made with the blessing/collaboration of some of those involved a decade or so earlier, this isn't wholly faithful to reality, with some elements significantly altered or invented for dramatic purposes as well as out of a desire to preserve some of the secrets at the core of the story. Nonetheless, I found it quite engaging despite the distraction of Clifton Webb's accent -- he doesn't really make much of an attempt to sound like anything other than Clifton Webb, against the usual jolly-good-show backdrop (Gloria Grahame's accent, by contrast, can be explained away by plot mechanics). Neame shows considerable delicacy of touch at times, choosing to allow the camera to linger for extended periods during key scenes either to give us an idea of the methodical work involved in implementing a project of this sensitive nature or to allow particular moments of drama to play out without interruption; the technique gives the film a good deal of additional emotional heft. 

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States