Operation Mincemeat and 5 other classic World War II movies based on remarkable real-life missions

Operation Mincemeat and World War 2 movies based on remarkable real-life missions

Operation Mincemeat is released in Cineworld this Easter Bank Holiday, and it dramatises one of the most extraordinary missions of World War II. 

In order to fool Adolf Hitler and the rest of the Nazi high command, a unit of military leaders and intelligence operatives (including a pre-James Bond Ian Fleming) used an anonymous dead body and planted false papers on it. Floating the corpse off the coast of fascist-occupied Spain, the team surmised, correctly, that the news would reach back to Hitler, in turn deflecting attention away from a covert Allied invasion of Axis-occupied Sicily.

Colin Firth, Matthew McFadyen, Johnny Flynn, Kelly Macdonald and Jason Isaacs lead an excellent cast in this story of bravery and resistance amidst extraordinary circumstances. (Check out the Cineworld Unlimited reactions to Operation Mincemeat.)

To get you ready for the movie, which is adapted from Ben Macintyre's book of the same name, we've compiled a list of classic World War II dramas based on remarkable real-life missions.


1. The Dam Busters (1955)

The development of the famous World War II 'bouncing bomb' is at the heart of this stirring British drama. The Dam Busters is based on the real-life Operation Chastise, headed up by the RAF's 617 Squadron who sought to destroy the Möhne, Eder, and Sorpe dams in Nazi Germany.

A stalwart cast is led by Michael Redgrave as Barnes Wallis, the developer of the bomb that eventually led the squadron to unlikely victory. Richard Todd portrays Wing Commander Gibson, who piloted the mission/ To the sound of Eric Coates and Leighton Lucas' unmistakeable, sprightly score, one of the most remarkable stories of World War II is brought thrillingly to life.

2. The Great Escape (1963)

One of the most audacious acts of World War II bravery occurred in Nazi-occupied Poland, and it's this story that perennial Bank Holiday classic The Great Escape brings to life.

The film is based on Paul Brickhill's 1950 non-fiction book of the same name, a firsthand account of the mass escape by British Commonwealth prisoners of war from German POW camp Stalag Luft III in Sagan (now Żagań, Poland).

Of course, there's plenty of Hollywood romanticisation in John Sturges' film adaptation, but that's why the film continues to endure as one of the greatest war movies ever made. Elmer Bernstein's sprightly score complements one of the greatest casts ever put on film, led by a career-defining Steve McQueen as the rebellious Cooler King.

3. Black Book (2006)

Arch provocateur Paul Verhoeven (Basic Instinct) returns with this week's 'nunsploitation' movie Benedetta. One of his greatest achievements as a director is this typically contradictory and challenging account of Dutch resistance at the height of the war, a drama that revels in duplicity, salacious behaviour and sudden violence.

Black Book's main character Rachel Stein (portrayed by Carice van Houten), who regularly seduces members of the Nazi high command to liberate incarcerated resistance operatives, is based on the Dutch resistance agent Esmée van Eeghen. She courted notoriety for falling in love with a German officer in the midst of her missions, causing an ideological conflict with her fellow resistance fighters. It's this transgression that fuels Verhoeven's gripping movie.

4. The Imitation Game (2014)

The tragic true story of Alan Turing fuels this compelling wartime drama. Turing is renowned as the man who built 'Christopher', the rudimentary computer that aided the Allies in cracking the seemingly uncrackable German Enigma coding machine. 

Together with a hand-picked squad of operatives, Turing facilitates access to the inner sanctum of the Nazi high command. However, he was later vilified and chemically castrated after being outed as a homosexual. (Only in 2013, some 59 years after his death, did Turing receive an official royal pardon.) Morten Tyldum's pacey drama rides high off the back of a prickly and spiky Benedict Cumberbatch who vividly embodies life Turing's cerebral bravery and his anguished inner conflict.

5. Dunkirk (2017)

Christopher Nolan's time-splicing, nerve-shattering World War II thriller Dunkirk melds the intricacy of Memento with the sweeping scope of Inception. The movie amalgamates three temporal zones, the conflict of Dunkirk playing out variously over the course of one hour, one day and one week.

No mere technical gimmick, Nolan uses this tricksy structure to explore how valor and bravery has the capacity to transcend time itself. One man's hour is equivalent to another man's week as an excellent cast, including Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance and Kenneth Branagh, puts a palpable human face on Operation Dynamo, the Allied evacuation of Dunkirk that was aided by the flotilla of small ships from the UK.


Click here to book your tickets for Operation Mincemeat, released in Cineworld cinemas on 15th April.