Operation Mincemeat


As more classified information about World War II is revealed, Operation Mincemeat reveals why the British landing on Sicily occurred with minimal casualties, based on a nonfiction book with the same title by Ben Macintyre, who updates information about the plot that was previously presented in the 1956 film The Man Who Never Was. John Madden directs Operation Mincemeat.

With Allied forces confined to North Africa in March 1943, chances of winning against Hitler’s German Army seem slim until the collaboration of Ewen Montagu (Colin Firth), a judge turned intelligence officer, with Charles Cholmondeley (Matthew Macfadyen). The plan, which the film implies came from the typewriter of Ian Fleming (Jonny Flynn), is to have a dead body wash up somewhere on the shores of Cadiz, Spain, with detailed information about a supposed military operation to invade Greece. If Germans believe that Allies will invade Greece, not Sicily, the hope is that they will shift troops from Sicily to Greece, and thousands of lives will be saved when Allied forces land. After Churchill (Simon Russell Beale) and Dwight Eisenhower approve, the details are worked out. They find a dead body from a coroner, a tramp from Wales dressed up as Captain William Martin, and attach a briefcase to the body with the phony plan to invade Greece along with a photo of their co-worker Jean Leslie (Kelly Macdonald) to give the impression that the dead person had a love affair. The body is put into a submarine and released one night so waves can wash up the body onshore.

However, the plan nearly unravels, providing suspense that keeps filmviewers alert: For example, the German with connections to Berlin has been reassigned from Cadiz. And a brother of Montagu, Ivor (Mark Gatiss), a suspected spy, learns about the photo and confronts Jean Leslie to learn the truth. She then confesses that her photo is part of a top secret plan.

Nevertheless, all problems are overcome except for the personal relationship between Ewen Montagu, whose wife has escaped to the United States, and Jean Leslie, a relationship that annoys Charles, who has similar aspirations. Titles at the end explain what later happened to various characters in the film.

The Political Film Society has nominated Operation Mincemeat for best film exposé of 2022.  MH

Scroll to Top