7.0/10
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The Great Impostor (1960)

Approved | | Comedy, Drama | February 1961 (USA)
Ferdinand Waldo Demara Jr. is a versatile man who gets his kicks out of impersonating a marine, a monk, a navy surgeon and a prison warden, eventually getting in trouble with the law for it.

Director:

Robert Mulligan

Writers:

Robert Crichton (novel), Liam O'Brien (screenplay)
Reviews
2 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tony Curtis ... Ferdinand Waldo Demara Jr. / Martin Donner / Dr. Gilbert / Ben. W. Stone / Dr. Joseph Mornay / Robert Boyd Hammnd
Karl Malden ... Father Devlin
Edmond O'Brien ... Capt. Glover - HMCS Cayuga
Arthur O'Connell ... Warden J.B. Chandler
Gary Merrill ... Pa Demara
Joan Blackman ... Lt. Catherine Lacey
Raymond Massey ... Abbott Donner
Robert Middleton ... R.C. Brown
Jeanette Nolan ... Ma Demara
Sue Ane Langdon ... Eulalie Chandler
Larry Gates ... Cardinal
Mike Kellin ... Clifford Thompson
Frank Gorshin ... Barney
Cindi Wood ... WAC Lieutenant
Dick Sargent ... Hotchkiss (as Richard Sargent)
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Storyline

Based on a true story, a bright young man who hasn't the patience for the normal way of advancement finds that people rarely question you if your papers are in order. He becomes a marine, a monk, a surgeon onboard a Canadian Warship, and a prison warden. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Will the Real Fred Demara Please Stand Up?? See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Korean

Release Date:

February 1961 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El gran impostor See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Tony Curtis as Demara is shown boarding HMCS Cayuga (a Tribal Class destroyer) which was the actual ship the real Demara sailed in. See more »

Goofs

Curtis is assigned to HMCS Cayuga on 16 June 1951. However, in the Captain's cabin, the picture on the wall is of Queen Elizabeth II, who ascended the throne on 6 February 1952 on the death of her father, King George VI. Also the portrait appears to be the 1956 Annigoni painting of the queen. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Matinee Wives (1970) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Fun masquerade
25 August 2018 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Tony Curtis may not have been the greatest of actors (though he did give some great performances), but he was very charismatic and immensely likeable and improved hugely with each film, it was very difficult to dislike him even early in his career. Reading the subject matter gave the impression that 'The Great Imposter' would be interesting and entertaining. There is also a good deal of talent in the cast.

Luckily, 'The Great Imposter' turned out to be exactly that, exactly what it seemed it would be on paper. It was interesting and it was very entertaining, the latter being especially strong, those two being its main objectives and they were achieved. Won't say it was a masterpiece or classic cinema because it wasn't, not everything works, but like Curtis one cannot be too hard on 'The Great Imposter' with so much working in its favour. It knows what it wants to be, who to aim it at and shows a lot of effort without trying to bite more than it can chew or play it too safe.

Would have liked DeMura's motivations to have gone into depth more or properly explored/explained, this aspect felt underdeveloped.

Also didn't buy his reform, which felt rushed and too pat to me, but that's personal opinion.

On the other hand, 'The Great Imposter' looks attractive, especially in the photography, and is assuredly directed. The music is never intrusive, low-key, obvious or repetitive, it fits well and not hard at all to remember.

While the facts and subject are adapted loosely and the tone significantly more light-hearted compared to the biography, of which it is a loose adaptation of, the light-hearted wit is infectious, it doesn't get too camp or silly and those unfamiliar with the man and story before seeing the film will find themselves wanting to learn more. The story is crisply paced and while odd in places (in an appealing way) it doesn't get too hard to follow. The surgery scene is priceless and avoids the trap of falling into distaste, do agree though it is not a subject to be laughed or poked fun at usually.

Did worry as to whether Curtis would be able to handle multiple roles and whether he would pull it off, but didn't need to be. He does splendidly here, we have as much fun as he clearly did, and one can really see how much he grew as an actor from when he first started a decade or so before. Raymond Massey, Edmund O'Brien and Karl Malden are particularly note-worthy in support.

All in all, lots of fun. 8/10 Bethany Cox


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