Copyright Notice: It’s easy to see when our selected quotes have been copied and pasted, as you’re also copying our format, mistakes, and movie scene descriptions. If you decide to copy from us please be kind and either link back, or refer back to our site. Please check out our copyright policies here. Thanks!
Starring: Colin Firth, Matthew Macfadyen, Kelly Macdonald, Penelope Wilton, Johnny Flynn, Jason Isaacs, Simon Russell Beale, Hattie Morahan, Paul Ritter, Mark Gatiss
OUR RATING: ★★★½
Period war drama directed by John Madden. Inspired by a true story, set in 1943 during World War II, in Operation Mincemeat (2022), the Allies are determined to break Hitler’s grip on occupied Europe and plan an invasion of Sicily, but they face an impossible challenge, how to protect a massive invasion force from potential massacre. It falls to two intelligence officers, Ewen Montagu (Colin Firth) and Charles Cholmondeley (Matthew Macfadyen), to come up with the most inspired and improbable disinformation strategy of the war, centered on the most unlikely of secret agents, a dead man.
Our Favorite Quotes:'In any story, if it's a good story, there is that which is seen, and that which is hidden. This is especially true in stories of war.' - Ian Fleming (Operation Mincemeat) Click To Tweet
Ian Fleming: In any story, if it’s a good story, there is that which is seen, and that which is hidden. This is especially true in stories of war. There is the war we see, a contest of bombs and bullets, courage, sacrifice, and brute force. As we count the winners, the losers, and the dead. But alongside this war, another war is waged. A battleground in shades of gray, played out in deception, seduction, and bad faith. The participants are strange. They are seldom what they seem, and fiction and reality blur. This war is a wilderness of mirrors in which the truth is protected by a bodyguard of lies. This is our war.
Ewen Montagu: Iris says marriages change, that romance and love belong to the young. I don’t believe that, or feel it. And the thought they may never be coming back… I know I can be remote, lost in my work, not as attentive as I might be.
Hester Leggett: You’re an imperfect person. I doubt you’re the first.
Ewen Montagu: I want Iris to be happy, even if it comes at the expense of my own happiness.
Hester Leggett: I’ve never heard her say a word about unhappiness.
Ewen Montagu: That’s because she knows you’d jump on a grenade for me.
Hester Leggett: Only on your good days.
Ewen Montagu: Iris said if I really cared, I’d come to America with them.
Hester Leggett: Oh, people say all sorts of things. She knows your duty is to your family and your country. The nightmare marching this way is only too real.
John Masterman: Hitler will need to believe that our next target is Greece, which, yes, will require an elaborate deception. A deception plan so complex I believe it can only be handled by The Twenty Committee.
Admiral John Godfrey: Which is why I shall focus the committee’s attention on the Trout Memo, the document I compiled a few years ago, to which my assistant, Lieutenant Commander Ian Fleming, made some contribution. “Intelligence is like trout fishing. The trout fisher, in tying his lure, attempts to attract the fish.”
Winston Churchill: I detest fish.
Admiral John Godfrey: Well, fish as metaphor, in this case.
Ian Fleming: Prime Minister, the memo in the hands of The Twenty Committee may, I believe, hold the key to deceiving Hitler. And while some of the ideas may appear fantastic.
Winston Churchill: I applaud the fantastic. It has many advantages over the mundane. But the more fantastic, the more foolproof the plan must be.
Winston Churchill: If we do not fool the Nazis, and the enemy is waiting for us on those beaches, history herself will avert her eyes from the slaughter.
Charles Cholmondeley: I’ve also been working on a deception plan, which I’ve dubbed Operation Trojan Horse. It’s a ruse taken from the Trout Memo. Idea number twenty-eight.
Ian Fleming: Number twenty-eight? A corpse carrying false papers drops on the coast from a parachute that supposedly failed.
Admiral John Godfrey: The Trout Memo is dead.
Ian Fleming: I believe the prime minister has an aversion to fish, Admiral. He did not kill the entire memo.
Admiral John Godfrey: A corpse carrying fake documents, hmm? Of all the ideas in the Trout Memo, that one is by far the most precarious.
'I applaud the fantastic. It has many advantages over the mundane. But the more fantastic, the more foolproof the plan must be.' - Winston Churchill (Operation Mincemeat) Click To Tweet
Ewen Montagu: I’m simply saying that for a deception to reach Hitler, it must have a channel. Spain is neutral, the ideal place to launch such a plan because she is crawling with spies from both sides. She has a vast coastline.
Charles Cholmondeley: And since our agents in Madrid have an elaborate network, we could quite literally float the documents right into enemy hands.
Charles Cholmondeley: “Deception needs a channel.” Those were your words.
Ewen Montagu: They were. I’m only imagining a dead body hurtling through the air.
Ian Fleming: The plan is bold, there’s no question, but it’s ours now, regardless. M’s seen to that.
Charles Cholmondeley: Although, what if the body does disintegrate on impact?
Ian Fleming: Let’s not bring that up now, shall we? And definitely not in front of M.
Ewen Montagu: Why do you call Godfrey “M”?
Ian Fleming: Because I called my mother “M”. Most terrifying, most impossible, most demanding creature I’ve ever known.
Ewen Montagu: So, Mother has no faith in this?
Ian Fleming: That’s because Number twenty-eight wasn’t Godfrey’s idea. It was mine. A plot I cribbed from Basil Thompson’s novel The Milliner’s Hat. Have you read Thompson?
Ewen Montagu: I prefer Buchan.
Charles Cholmondeley: What if the autopsy reveals that he didn’t die of drowning? Or if the briefcase is returned to us without the Germans seeing its contents?
Ian Fleming: Charles, why on earth do you keep poking holes in our plan?
Charles Cholmondeley: I’m preemptively poking, to ensure all the details are properly thought through. Because as Godfrey made clear, our feet will be held to the fire soon enough.
Ewen Montagu: The plan will work if we make it work.
'Every piece makes a whole. A man is a mosaic.' - Ewen Montagu (Operation Mincemeat) Click To Tweet
Ewen Montagu: Well, what say we start with the easy part and find ourselves a corpse?
Ewen Montagu: [referring to the corpse] Where are his legs?
Ewen Montagu: And yet here we are, in a huge city, in the middle of a world war, and we can’t seem to find ourselves a single suitable corpse.
Ian Fleming: In the real war, there are constant reminders of the brutality at hand. A quarter of a million lie dead in battle, an unspeakable horror with no end in sight. While in the other war, the war of shadows, normal life appears to continue, itself an act of canny deception. In this war, real lives are also lost, and even fictional lives can meet an untimely end. And once in a great while, the laws of nature reverse themselves entirely, and the dead are made alive again.
Ewen Montagu: [referring to their dead man] The crucial thing is that he must be real. As real as you or I.
'People are often one way with family, a different way entirely out in the world. One minute Jekyll, the next, Hyde.' - Bentley Purchase (Operation Mincemeat) Click To Tweet
Charles Cholmondeley: The thing is, the Germans will scrutinize every detail of our fallen man.
Charles Cholmondeley: Even the slightest inconsistency will signal the ruse.
Hester Leggett: So, to create a real fake man from a real dead man, we start by…
Ewen Montagu: By giving him a real, real name.
Hester Leggett: [after giving their dead man the name Maj. Bill Martin] There must be a love story if Major Martin’s life is to be believable.
Ewen Montagu: Objection. Creation of a material fact. A real life need not be a romantic one.
Hester Leggett: He would carry a letter from his betrothed professing her deep love for him.
Charles Cholmondeley: That’s very good. That’s precisely the level of detail we need. And he would carry her photograph.
Hester Leggett: Yes.
Ewen Montagu: Well, we clearly read different novels.
Charles Cholmondeley: If you could point me to a girl who would give us her photograph.
Jean Leslie: But what would her photograph be used for?
Charles Cholmondeley: Well, I’m afraid that’s classified. But by donating her image, she’d be involved in and on the ground floor of a significant operation.
Jean Leslie: Operation Trojan Horse.
Charles Cholmondeley: It’s been renamed, something less obvious. Operation Mincemeat.
Jean Leslie: Due to the dead body.
Charles Cholmondeley: You surmised that rather quickly.
Jean Leslie: I already knew the plot.
Jean Leslie: [volunteering her photo] Would something like this do? Taken by my husband a long time ago.
Charles Cholmondeley: Your husband, I didn’t realize. Well, it’s lovely. It’s perfect.
Jean Leslie: It could be my contribution to the mission. First of many, perhaps. My photograph in exchange for a seat at the table.
'It's easier to accept death when you can't see it coming.' - Charles Cholmondeley (Operation Mincemeat) Click To Tweet
Bentley Purchase: [as they’re taking photos of the dead man] Let’s just not attempt to make him smile again, please. Does none of us any favors.
Ewen Montagu: Because he looks dead, Bentley. Whatever we do, just deader and deader.
Bentley Purchase: It’s hard to come alive for one’s close up in this state.
Ewen Montagu: If we bungle one tiny detail, a droopy eyelid, an open mouth instead of a smile, we might as well telegraph Berlin ourselves it’s all a hoax.
Bentley Purchase: Then may I suggest a live face?
Ewen Montagu: That looks just like the dead face?
Bentley Purchase: In a city of nine million, surely someone resembles our friend.
Charles Cholmondeley: [as they’re looking for men that resemble their dead man] No. too full in the face.
Ewen Montagu: But without the mustache?
Charles Cholmondeley: His brow is too heavy.
Ewen Montagu: Why don’t we try something easier, for God’s sake, like looking for tits on a bull? Forgive me. That was uncalled for.
Jean Leslie: No, I saw the photographs. It’s called for.
Jean Leslie: [as they’re trying to give their dead man a story] And is he happy? Is he a happy man?
Ewen Montagu: He wants to be. He started out with such promise, a sense of hope about the world, about his future. But now it all seems dark, uncertain.
Jean Leslie: He is in the middle of a war.
Hester Leggett: Exactly right.
Ewen Montagu: [to Jean] It’s your photograph that will be pressed to his heart when he washes ashore.
Charles Cholmondeley: Yes, wallet litter is what you are. Not as in rubbish. That’s just spy parlance for the bits and pieces that one finds in one’s pockets.
Ewen Montagu: [after giving their dead man a fiancée] A toast. To Pam, our secret weapon who’s already managed to see what we could not.
'Who in these last hours will bear witness to the hidden war, unseen by history, locked away in a buried file? Its tragedies and triumphs unspoken. Its heroes unsung.' - Ian (Operation Mincemeat) Click To Tweet
Ewen Montagu: Every piece makes a whole. A man is a mosaic.
Ewen Montagu: May I just say I was very sorry to hear of your husband.
Jean Leslie: I’ve been alone for many years, which is why it pleases me to see Bill and Pam so madly in love.
Ewen Montagu: Pam is very lucky to have you cheering her on.
Jean Leslie: And Bill, you.
Ewen Montagu: So, two months of work and we’ve managed to deceive the enemy of precisely nothing.
Winston Churchill: What happens when the ink washes off as the letter bobs in the sea?
Admiral John Godfrey: They need to use waterproof ink.
Winston Churchill: Only someone planning to drown writes in waterproof ink.
Admiral John Godfrey: [to Churchill] My advice is that Mincemeat is killed before it sees the light of day. Our other deception plans are strategies designed to confuse the enemy, throw him off balance. Mincemeat, on the other hand, is an outright lie. A lie that, if detected, would expose every single other deception as false. The Germans would know unequivocally we were landing in Sicily. I think that’s too big a risk. Nonetheless, I would like to keep Mincemeat running a little longer.
Winston Churchill: This is the problem when one is dealing with spooks. You do see it. The corkscrew thinking required to manage spies sometimes twists one too many turns, until one finds oneself charging forward, while at the same time looking out of one’s own a**.
Admiral John Godfrey: I assume you’re referring to me.
Winston Churchill: The Nazis are expecting a deception, which means that our effort must be unbelievable enough to make it believable. The plan is risky. It’s also highly implausible. Meaning that all the reasons it shouldn’t work are the same reasons the Germans might believe it’s true. So, when can it be ready?
Admiral John Godfrey: Immediately?
Winston Churchill: Correct.