I don’t know who came up with the idea of sticking such a stupid title on what is a top notch WWII British spy thriller, even if it was the real title.
But here it is, the unbelievable, unbelievable plan to fool Hitler’s generals into thinking that a huge British invasion, planned for Sicily, was really going to be on Greece.
If he failed, thousands of British troops would have been wiped out, Winston Churchill’s career would have ended, and Britain might have lost the war. It’s the land mine that everyone in the group goes through.
Well, that’s the idea, and damn it, old sport, it worked. But the best part was how this crazy idea was hatched by the British secret service and a young officer named Ian Fleming, who survived the war and went on to create James Bond, complete with ‘M’ and ‘Q’ .
“Mincemeat” is based on Ben Macintyre’s non-fiction book and Michelle Ashford’s screenplay of this incredibly true story that has a long-ago tail.
The first time was 1956’s ‘The Man Who Never Was’, which starred big old low-budget actor Clifton Webb, and was directed by Ronald Neame.
This movie told the story while sticking to the caper details.
But here, to brighten up a boring Netflix spring catalog, there’s ‘Operation Mincemeat’, rich in real-life details and spies in Germany, Sicily and Greece.
The icing on the cake is the cast, and what a cast: Kelly Macdonald, Penelope Wilton of “Downton Abbey”, Colin Firth, Jason Issacs (you can’t do a spy thriller without Issac) and Tom Wilkinson.
Ashford’s screenplay is superior, of course, to the original, and it all comes from Macintyre’s book.
Sebastian Blenkov’s camera finds all the darkest shadows and moldy desk corners superbly, and especially the spooky scenes at sea.
Hooray for the producers to use the gifts of Thomas Newman, of the great Newman family (Alfred Newman) for the music.
“Operation Mincemeat” is now streaming on Netflix.
JP Devine from Waterville is a former theater and film actor.
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