Great Impostor

The Great Impostor

Director: Robert Mulligan, Tony Curtis, Edmond O'Brien, Arthur O'Connell

Cast: Robert Mulligan, Tony Curtis, Edmond O'Brien, Arthur O'Connell

     
 

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The Great Impostor is the true story of chameleonlike Canadian Ferdinand Waldo DeMara Jr., well-played by Tony Curtis. Unable to decide what he wants to do with his life, DeMara goes about pretending to be other people, hoping to eventually "find himself." He poses as a Harvard professor, a Trappist monk, a prison warden, and a navy

Overview

The Great Impostor is the true story of chameleonlike Canadian Ferdinand Waldo DeMara Jr., well-played by Tony Curtis. Unable to decide what he wants to do with his life, DeMara goes about pretending to be other people, hoping to eventually "find himself." He poses as a Harvard professor, a Trappist monk, a prison warden, and a navy physician, and manages each time to get away with the artifice. The film wavers uncertainly between tense drama and frothy comedy, with comedy finally winning out. Karl Malden co-stars as Father Devlin, the young DeMara's spiritual advisor, while Joan Blackman is the nominal (and hardly visible) heroine. The real Ferdinand DeMara (if indeed there was a real Ferdinand DeMara) can be seen in a supporting role in the 1960 melodrama The Hypnotic Eye.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Something of a precursor to the later Catch Me If You Can (although both films deal with separate real-life figures), The Great Imposter is an enjoyable, if fairly lightweight, drama that raises intriguing questions that it doesn't really answer. Some people will undoubtedly be bothered by the lack of a weightier approach to this story; after all, Demara is not only committing fraud, he is placing people's health and/or lives in jeopardy by doing so. In addition, the psychological questions implicit in such a personality -- and the effect these would have on those closest to him -- are not really explored, even when they are briefly raised. However, Imposter is pretty upfront about its intentions, which is to tell a good story without going into too much detail about the consequences, and at this it succeeds admirably. The screenplay is deftly constructed, and Robert Mulligan's direction is swift, yet leaves enough room to linger occasionally so that the dramatic impact can be built up. Tony Curtis is quite good as this "Teflon" character, changing guises and personalities as the need dictates. Edmond O'Brien is also quite good, and the tooth scene between him and Curtis is a definite high point. Karl Malden and Raymond Massey also score as a couple of religious figures who figure prominently. If one can accept the tone and scope that the filmmakers have established in telling this story, one is likely to have quite a good time.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/28/2014
UPC:
0025192243233
Original Release:
1961
Source:
Universal Mod
Time:
1:52:00
Sales rank:
13,080

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Tony Curtis Ferdinand Waldo Demara, Jr.
Edmond O'Brien Capt. Glover
Arthur O'Connell Warden Chandler
Gary Merrill Demara Sr.
Joan Blackman Cathy Lacey
Karl Malden Father Devlin
Raymond Massey Abbott Donner
Robert Middleton Brown
Jeanette Nolan Ma Demara
Sue Ane Langdon Eulalie
Larry Gates Cardinal
Mike Kellin Thompson
Frank Gorshin Barney
Cindi Wood WAC Lieutenant
Doodles Weaver Farmer
Ward Ramsey Executive Officer Howard
Philip Ahn Hun Kin
Herbert Rudley Senior Officer
Jerry Paris Defense Lieutenant
Harry Carey Dr. Joseph Mornay
Willard Sage Lt. Thorton
Robert Crawford Demara as a Boy
David White Actor
Dick Sargent Hotchkiss

Technical Credits
Robert Mulligan Director
Alexander Golitzen Art Director
Robert Arthur Producer
Henry Bumstead Art Director
Robert Burks Cinematographer
Julia Heron Set Decoration/Design
Joseph E. Kenny Asst. Director
Frederic Knudtson Editor
Henry Mancini Score Composer
Liam O'Brien Screenwriter
Waldon O. Watson Sound/Sound Designer
Bud Westmore Makeup
Frank H. Wilkinson Sound/Sound Designer

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