Pursuit of the Graf Spee (1956)
"The Battle of the River Plate" (original title)

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A true WW2 story: the British Navy must find and destroy a powerful German warship.

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Nominated for 3 BAFTA Film Awards. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
John Gregson ...
Captain Bell - H.M.S. Exeter
Commodore Harwood-H.M.S. Ajax
Captain Woodhouse - H.M.S. Ajax
Captain Parry - H.M.N.Z.S. Achilles
Captain Dove - M.S. Africa Shell
Lionel Murton ...
Mike Fowler
Anthony Bushell ...
Mr. Millington Drake - British Minister, Montevideo
Peter Illing ...
Dr. Guani - Foreign Minister, Uruguay
Captain McCall - R.N., British Naval Attache for Buenos Aires
Lieutenant Commander Medley R.N.
John Chandos ...
Dr. Langmann - German Minister, Montevideo
Douglas Wilmer ...
M. Desmoulins - French Minister, Montevideo
William Squire ...
Ray Martin
Roger Delgado ...
Captain Varela - Uruguayan Navy
Andrew Cruickshank ...
Captain Stubbs - 'Doric Star'


In the fall of 1939, the German heavy cruiser (referred to as a pocket battleship) Graf Spee seems to have command of the Atlantic. In the first three months of World War II, she was responsible for sinking 9 ships. The British sent three cruisers commanded by Commodore Henry Harwood to confront her. The battle took place on December 13, 1939 and the British came out on top. The Graf Spee headed for the neutral harbor of Montevideo, Uruguay. They were given only a short time to effect repairs and the British did their best to make them believe a British fleet of 6 or 8 ships awaited them. Rather than chance the loss of his men, the German captain ordered the Graf Spee scuttled. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The tremendous story of the victory over the Graf Spee. See more »


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Release Date:

November 1957 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Pursuit of the Graf Spee  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


| (cut)

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


There was heavy speculation than German Captain Hans Langsdorff committed suicide rather than face the humiliation of losing his ship. There was even more speculation that he did it because he feared what Hitler would do to him if he returned to Germany. At the time the Graf Spee was the pride of the German Navy and scuttling her would have been regarded as treason. See more »


When the crew of the Ajax cheers the Achilles in long shot, the crew (including both bridges) are wearing dark blue naval uniforms, but when it switches to close ups of both bridges, they are in tropical white uniforms. See more »


Captain Bell - H.M.S. Exeter: Can reach Plymouth if ordered...
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Crazy Credits

I.N.S. Delhi (formerly Achilles) as H.M.N.Z. Ship Achilles See more »


Featured in The Story of Making the Film They're a Weird Mob (1966) See more »


Cabalgata de los Gauchos
Music by Brian Easdale
Lyrics by Manuel Salina
Performed by April Olrich (dubbed by Muriel Smith)
See more »

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User Reviews

Excellent well-balanced war film
10 May 2004 | by (Victoria, Canada) – See all my reviews

This film mixes action with respectful exploration of the main characters, on both sides of the conflict. Excellent acting all round. The plot is developed carefully and sets the stage well for the ending. The local South American scenes offer colourful counterpoints to the preceding at sea sequences.

This film in British genre with the makers' principal focii being the storyline and the acting. Fans of the U.S.-style war movies may find the film too understated at times. They will also find the use of models for some of the battle scenes less than convincing when compared to the larger-than-life realism of computer-generated imagery.

14 of 20 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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