Stephen Arnell

The subterfuge movies that rival Operation Mincemeat

  • From Spectator Life
Image: Warner Bros

Until recently a ‘special military operation’ typically referred to a particular action/plan rather than all-out war. Unless you happen to live in Putin’s Russia, that is.

John Madden’s (Shakespeare in Love) take on the real-life Operation Mincemeat is a solid entry in the canon of WWII movies that concern themselves with a particular military objective and the various forms of subterfuge that are used to achieve it.

The plot of Operation Mincemeat centres on a ruse designed to distract the Germans from the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943 by secreting false plans for the landing in Greece on a civilian corpse kitted out as a Royal Marine courier.

The picture boasts a first-class cast, including Colin Firth, Matthew Macfadyen, Kelly Macdonald, Simon Russell Beale, Jason Isaacs, Alex Jennings, Penelope Wilton and Mark Bonnar.

Truly a Who’s Who of UK acting talent, and hopefully superior to the recent lacklustre adaptation of Robert Harris’ pre-WWII thriller Munich – The Edge of War (2022).

The story behind Operation Mincemeat was first tackled back in 1956 with Ronald Neame’s (The Odessa File) enjoyable The Man Who Never Was, where the waspish American actor Clifton Webb (Laura) took the role of Lt. Cmdr. Ewen Montagu, played by Firth in the new picture.

Most WWII films revolve around a plan or some such, either a campaign, grand strategy raid or covert skulduggery.

Older titles include The Dam Busters (1955), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), The Guns of Navarone (1961), The Longest Day (1962), Operation Crossbow (1965), The Heroes of Telemark (also 1965), A Bridge Too Far (1977), Codename: Emerald (1985), and of course Where Eagles Dare (1968).

With one exception, I will keep to later movies solely pertaining to Allied operations during the conflict.

Operation Mincemeat is released on Netflix on 11 May.

Inglorious Basterds (2009) Netflix, Amazon Prime, Rent/Buy

Quentin Tarantino’s WWII alternative history is a bit of a curate’s egg. There

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