Friday, June 2, 2017

I Was Monty's Double (1958)

AKA: Hell, Heaven or Hobken

Director: John Guillermin

Writers: Bryan Forbes, M.E. Clifton James

Composer: John Addison

Starring: M.E. Clifton James, John Mills, Cecil Parker, Patrick Allen, Patrick Holt, Leslie Phillips, Michael Hordern, Marius Goring, Barbara Hicks, Sidney James, Bryan Forbes, John Le Mesurier, Walter Gotell

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The Gigantic Hoax of World War II

Plot: During WW2, a British actor impersonates Field Marshal Montgomery in order to confuse German intelligence.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

What a marvelous picture!  I loved James playing himself doing what he did in life.  It's a neat true story and there's a lot of good stuff here.  It's great storytelling all around.  The film follows a pattern that's not uncommon to modern audiences.  The sequence of events seem very natural and logical.  But what makes it work is not just the remarkable story and script itself but the acting and the direction.  I'm not spoiling anything here but when you see James struggle to get the confidence to play the decoy role of Montgomery, I felt that hope was on the ropes even though I knew he had to have been successful or this movie wouldn't have been made (you know, based on the true account of what the man did during the war).  The payoff is when he finally gets it.  I actually teared up a little I was so happy for him.  I know, right?  He's challenged in other parts of the film where the tension is thick.  The scene where he's giving a speech to the American soldiers and he forgets the lines.  Man, I was literally on the edge of my seat.  And again, when he recovers and sells the shit out of it, I found myself emotionally thrilled as if I were there.  This is top notch filmmaking.  The climax of the picture didn't happen in real life (according to James) but it's still a tense and exciting way to end the film with a bang.  I'll probably watch this again someday when I find a proper widescreen print.  It played just fine in fullscreen, though.

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