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HALL OF FAMEon 2 September 2007
As improbable as it seems, Hitler sent a panzer division and 50,000 troops to the south of France just before the Normandy invasion. Hitler did it because he was so impressed by the performance of a second-string actor who up to May, 1944, was most proud of his lead role as Charley's Aunt in British regional rep. In this case, however, M. E. Clifton-James was playing Bernard Montgomery. Clifton-James bore an uncanny resemblance to the field marshall. When MI5 realized this, they organized one of the great WWII cons. Up until then, Clifton-James had been a middle-aged, low-ranking officer, in for the duration, who'd wound up in the Royal Army Pay Corps. He was pulled out of that, assigned for a few days to Montgomery's staff posing as an enlisted man so he could secretly study Montgomery's mannerisms and style, then sent as Montgomery first to Gibraltar and then to North Africa. Once there, posing as the field marshall, he attended high-level meetings, reviewed the troops, gave inspiring speeches...and all the while MI5 was insuring that his "secret" visits were being leaked to German intelligence. Would the Germans take the bait and believe Monty was prepping the field for a major landing at the underbelly of Europe? MI5 and Clifton-James had their answer when German fighters attacked the transport carrying the false Monty to another North African location. Then German commandos arriving by sub managed to kidnap "Montgomery" and move him to the beach before British soldiers (in the movie, two good-looking officers, one played by John Mills) daringly rescue the actor, who by now had fainted.

All true? Well, supposedly, most of it. I'd take the kidnapping and the rescue with a grain of salt. Clifton-James after the war wrote his auto-biography titled "I Was Monty's Double" and it sold briskly. He was 46 during the seven weeks of his training and impersonation. MI5 kept him in seclusion in Cairo until after the Normandy invasion, then returned him to duty in England in the Pay Corps. He probably never had a better role, and certainly never a more important one, in his life. He was 60 when the movie was made and died five years later. He carries off playing himself very well. He holds his own with John Mills as the fictional Major Harvey and Cecil Parker as the fictional Colonel Logan. Parker runs the scam; Mills makes sure Clifton-James doesn't lose his nerve and stays with him during training and in North Africa. This being a sort-of Mills war movie, Mills is cheery, competent and loaded with upper-class confidence, either when trying to rekindle an old love while on leave or gunning down a large group of tough German commandos.

The tone of the movie, with a screenplay by Bryan Forbes, is one of British insouciance, the undertaking of deadly serious actions with under-played bravery and deprecating humor. Some of the humor comes from cracks made by Mills as Major Harvey about actors' vanity. The last 20 minutes of the movie turns into a more standard war story with a midnight beach landing, silent knifings, an attack in the waves and bullets flying on the beach. The movie regains its footing of good cheer at the close.

I Was Monty's Double may not be an unknown war classic, but it's a well-made, well-scripted and well-acted movie. M. E. Clifton-James turns out to be a sympathetic and even endearing person, something that would never be said about Montgomery. The DVD looks quite good.
33 comments17 of 17 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
I Was Monty's Double is a great film based on fact. What makes it so good is that the person who really had the adventure of playing Monty's Double starred in this movie. I have heard it called a "B" movie nothing can be further from the truth, this film has a great script, well supported by John Mills and is an important historical record.

A must!
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The perfect companion for all film enthusiasts is THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker

I Was Monty's Double tells about a great and important wartime hoax, almost incredible in its audacity. Clifton James, a small time stock actor serving as a junior officer in the Royal Army Pays Corps, bore a startling resemblance to General Montgomery. This was used in a daring scheme devised by Army Intelligence to persuade the Germans that the forthcoming Allies' invasion might well take place on the North African coast.

The deception proved so successful that the enemy moved several divisions to the North African coast, a move which helped the actual invasion tremendously. The film has some nail biting moments of real tension.

Plenty of news footage has been woven into the pic and it has been done with commendable ingenuity. Bryan Forbes' taut screenplay [based on James' book] is liberally spiced with humor. James plays both himself and Montgomery. Apart from his uncanny resemblance to Monty, James shows himself to be a resourceful actor in his own right.
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on 27 November 2001
I was Monty's double is gives one actor the biggest acting oppotunity of his life. How could any actor pass this sort of chance?? One day lieutenant james of the pay core is doing cheep impressions of fieldmarshall montgomery on the stage, and the next he is being asked to do a tour of North africa as monty, giving speeches hear and waveinging to the crowd there.
The scene, in the early part of of 1944 hard work is going under way to lay plans for the all important invasion of europe. The allies are going to every extent to try and conceal the exact time and place of the invasion. It's major Harvey of intelligance's job to do his best to mis lead the Germans into where the invasion will take place. Stuggeling for ideas he decides to go and see the theatre with his girlfriend, Peggy,after the performance a 'special' guest comes on stage. From then Lieutenant James life changes masivly. Suddenly he watching and learning everything that Monty ever did and studying his every manerism, from the way he stands to how he blows his nose. The plan was for james to tour north Africa giving the Germans the impression that thats where the invasion would be launched.
The film is in black and white which is completly in keeping with the film, it is parrell of the public propaganda film which the characters watch at the end which is depicting DD day.
in my opinion this film is very enjoyable as it has touches of everything, laughter, tension and the rest. For anyone who is into history or likes world war films this wont disappoint as it encapsulates everything that is british. Having watched the film you feel like gettin the Vera lin records out and singing god save the queen stupidly loud with your hand over you heart. In many ways you might be put off by this pigeon holeing but dont be as this film has a lovely personal identity and tells a wonderfull story. The acting is nothing more than good but this doesnt matter as you will take as a post war feel good film with little special effects but with plenty of good old british Spirit.
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on 7 May 2011
Could watch this film time and time again. Monty's double is so lifelike as "he" acts the the part, even when "he" inspects his own Troops and fools the Germans, or am I giving away too much of the plot - Got to watch - plenty of sculduggery going on! Another Black and White like they used to make them.
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on 8 January 2014
I really enjoyed this film about an Allied plan to deceive the Nazis.. What adds a rare element of authenticity is the fact that the actor playing Monty's double in the movie is the same man who was selected to pass himself off as General Montgomery during WW2.. Typical British humour, nicely underplayed - a thoroughly brilliant docudrama.
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on 24 July 2012
It was great to see this film after over 40 years when I saw it as a child shortly after the film was partly produced here in Gibraltar. Gibraltar has had a number of films filmed on the Rock. Another famous one was The Living Daylights opening sequence. I enjoyed both films and would recommend them
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VINE VOICEon 27 January 2014
I saw this film years ago when I was a kid, and now in my 50's a friend reminded me of it, and I tried to purchase it but could not find it locally, and hey presto there it was on Amazon, very cheap too, its a brilliant film, supposedly based on fact, I enjoyed it give it go and see what you think
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on 16 June 2014
Fun film of a great story, but it is not really substantial enough to do it justice. But worth seeing for the fantastic tale it tells, mixed with real footage, of a grand deception regarding General Montgomery and the planned location of the allied invasion of German occupied Europe in WWII.
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on 16 September 2007
I thoroughly enjoyed this delightful film. It has an excellent script by Bryan Forbes that is both witty and heart-felt. A particularly good scene occurs when ME Clifton-James must address a meeting of American offices as Monty. It's a tense moment beautifuly done. The acting is superb and ME Clifton-James comes over as especially warm and genuine as the soldier plucked from near obscurity to perform the real-life impersonation of Monty in order to distract the Nazis away from the invasion of Europe. I'd like to read his book now.....
0Comment2 of 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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