The Great Impostor

Watch The Great Impostor

"Will the Real Fred Demara Please Stand Up??"
  • Approved
  • 1961
  • 1 hr 53 min
  • 6.9  (1,671)
  • 66

The Great Impostor is a 1960 film directed by Robert Mulligan and starring Tony Curtis, Karl Malden, and Edmond O'Brien. It is based on the true story of Ferdinand Waldo Demara Jr., a man who successfully impersonated a variety of professionals, including a doctor, prison warden, and a monk. The film opens with Demara being court-martialed for impersonating an officer in the United States Navy. The rest of the film is told in flashback, as Demara recounts his various exploits to a fellow inmate in prison. Demara's first impersonation is as a monk, where he uses his charm and intelligence to fool the other monks and eventually becomes the head of the monastery.

After leaving the monastery, Demara impersonates a doctor, using fraudulent diplomas and relying on his natural intelligence to learn the necessary medical knowledge. He becomes the chief surgeon on a navy ship and saves the lives of many sailors, before being exposed and once again fleeing to avoid charges.

Next, Demara finds work as a school principal, but is caught when a student recognizes him as the famous impostor. He then moves on to impersonate a prison warden, where he is able to improve the conditions of the prison and gain respect from the inmates.

Throughout the film, Demara's motivations for his various impersonations are explored. At times, he seems to be motivated by a desire to help others or to prove something to himself. At other times, he simply seems to be enjoying the thrill of the deception.

Curtis gives a strong performance as Demara, bringing charm and wit to a character who could easily come across as a villain. Malden and O'Brien provide solid supporting performances, with Malden playing the FBI agent tasked with finding Demara and O'Brien playing the prosecutor trying to bring Demara to justice.

The film is well-paced, with each of Demara's impersonations given enough time to be fully explored. The various settings, from the monastery to the navy ship, provide a sense of adventure and intrigue.

While The Great Impostor does not delve deeply into the psychological or ethical issues surrounding Demara's impersonations, it does serve as an entertaining and engaging portrayal of his exploits. It is a film that explores the idea of identity and self, and how even the most convincing facades can be easily shattered.

Overall, The Great Impostor is an entertaining and well-crafted film, with a strong central performance by Tony Curtis. It is an interesting exploration of a fascinating real-life figure, and a reminder of the power of deception and the allure of reinvention.

The Great Impostor
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 53 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.9  (1,671)
  • Metascore