A true story of soldier and former jobbing actor Meyrick Edward Clifton “Jimmy” James who ended up impersonating Field Marshal Montgomery in a real-life mission during WW2 due to his uncanny resemblance to the British army leader.
‘Operation Copperhead’ saw Lt. James assigned to Montgomery’s staff as a driver so he could learn his speech and his mannerisms. James had to quit drinking and smoking and, having lost the middle finger of his right hand during the First World War, a prosthetic one was made for him.
To deceive the Germans into believing the Allied D-Day landings would take place in the South of France rather than Normandy it was essential that they should be led to believe that Montgomery, Britain’s leading General, was in North Africa, the obvious launch-pad for any such invasion.
As a result of the subterfuge, Hitler sent a panzer division and 50,000 troops to the south of France just before the Normandy invasion.
Released in the US as Hell, Heaven or Hoboken from an American slogan of World War I. The city of Hoboken in New Jersey was the main point of departure and return for US troops and the phrase meant that by Christmas 1917 the soldiers would either be dead or have returned in triumph.
The phrase is not relevant to a movie about a senior British Army officer of World War II but American distributors were perhaps aware that Field Marshal Montgomery’s personal popularity was not high Stateside.
Lt. Meyrick Edward Clifton James/Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery
Meyrick Edward Clifton James
Governor of Gibraltar
Wing Commander Bates
Flight Lieutenant Osborne
Flying Officer Davies