The Great Impostor
|The Great Impostor|
|Directed by||Robert Mulligan|
|Written by||Robert Crichton (novel)
|Music by||Henry Mancini|
|Running time||113 minutes|
The Great Impostor is a 1961 movie based on the true story of an impostor named Ferdinand Waldo Demara.
The film only loosely follows Demara's real-life exploits, and is much lighter in tone than the book on which it is based.
Demara quit high school as a boy and joined the Army. He wanted to become an officer, but his lack of education worked against it. On a whim, he fakes a set of credentials and becomes a U.S. Marine.
When his lie is detected, Demara, facing jail, fakes a suicide and hides out as a Trappist monk. After a while, he is expelled from the monastery, captured and imprisoned in a military brig. But the warden inadvertently confides too many details of his own life to Demara, taking a liking to him. Upon his release, Demara impersonates the warden and lands a job working in a Texas penitentiary, where he takes up with his new warden's daughter, Eulalie.
Blackmailed by an inmate who recognizes him from the military jail, Demara once again flees. He joins the Royal Canadian Navy, using the forged credentials of a doctor. After falling in love with a RCN Nursing Sister, Catherine Lacey, he goes to Korea to serve aboard HMCS Cayuga. He ends up doing dental work on the ship's captain, then performing operations in a Korean hospital.
Hailed as a "miracle doctor," Demara gains publicity that exposes his past. The Navy finds out who he really is and intends to hold a court-martial. Nurse Lacey and others vow to testify on Demara's behalf, having seen his good side. Worried about possible disrepute to the RCN, and his stellar service, he is allowed to leave under a general discharge. He then goes and becomes a teacher in New England.
The FBI eventually comes up with an agent whose assignment is to track down the great impostor and capture him. In the end, the agent is revealed to be Demara himself.
- Tony Curtis as Demara
- Edmond O'Brien as Capt. Glover
- Gary Merrill as Pa Demara
- Karl Malden as Father Devlin
- Raymond Massey as the Abbot
- Joan Blackman as Catherine Lacey
- Arthur O'Connell as Warden Chandler
- Sue Ane Langdon as Eulalie
- Frank Gorshin as Barney
- Robert Middleton as Lt. Brown