Matthew Macfadyen, left, and Colin Firth in “Operation Mincemeat” 2021. IMDb photo

I don’t know whose idea it was to stick such a stupid title on what is a first-rate World War II British espionage thriller, even if it was the true title.

But here it is, the amazing, unbelievable plan to trick Hitler’s generals into thinking that a huge British invasion, planned for Sicily, was really going to be on Greece.

If it failed, thousands of British troops would have been wiped out, and Winston Churchill’s career would have ended, and Britain might have lost the war. This is the landmine everyone in the group steps over.

Well, that’s the idea, and by golly, old sport, it did work. But the best part was how this crazy idea was put together by British intelligence, and a young officer named Ian Fleming, who survived the war and went on to create James Bond, with “M” and “Q.”

“Mincemeat” is based on Ben Macintyre’s nonfiction book and Michelle Ashford’s script about this incredibly true story that has a long-ago shirttail.

The first time out was 1956’s “The Man Who Never Was,” which starred the great old fussbudget actor Clifton Webb, and was directed by Ronald Neame.


That film told the story while sticking to details of the caper.

But here to brighten a dull Netflix spring catalog is “Operation Mincemeat,” rich with the actual details and spies in Germany, Sicily and Greece.

The icing on this cake is the cast, and what a cast: Kelly Macdonald, Penelope Wilton from “Downton Abbey,” Colin Firth, Jason Issacs (you can’t do a spy thriller without Issac) and Tom Wilkinson.

Ashford’s screenplay is superior, of course, to the original, and it’s all from Macintyre’s book.

Sebastian Blenkov’s camera superbly finds all the darkest of shadows and musty office corners, and especially the scary scenes at sea.

Hooray for the producers to use the gifts of Thomas Newman, from the great Newman family (Alfred Newman) for the music.

“Operation Mincemeat” streams on Netflix now.

J.P. Devine of Waterville is a former stage and screen actor.

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