Essentially a re-release of Michael Powell's 'The Edge of the World (1937)', but with color 'bookends' in which director and actors revisit the island of Foula forty years later and talk about their experiences.
A 'Land Girl', an American GI, and a British soldier find themselves together in a small Kent town on the road to Canterbury. The town is being plagued by a mysterious "glue-man", who pours... See full summary »
Alexander Korda's bit for the British war effort shows the world both at peace and on the verge of Nazi domination. Spliced together to form a documentary style film of both newsreel and ... See full summary »
Captains John Fellows and Henry Wynne-Walton finish their Army training at Sandhurst Military Academy and are sent to the Middle-East. John is to lead a parachute battalion while Henry is ... See full summary »
Nino Culotta is an Italian immigrant who arrived in Australia with the promise of a job as a journalist on his cousin's magazine, only to find that when he gets there the magazine's folded,... See full summary »
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
HMS Battleaxe was also used as a camera ship (off Malta). 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 »
Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger are probably best known for their mystical, romantic films like: 'A Matter of Life and Death'; 'Black Narcissus', and 'The Red Shoes'.
'Battle of the River Plate' is a decent film, but it does have some awkward lapses. There is some excellent footage shot at sea using veteran Royal Navy ships. Unfortunately this sits uneasily with the studio sets. During the battle scenes I had the uneasy feeling someone out of shot was throwing buckets of water in the air to simulate shell-fire.
Instead of indulging in Technicolor, I feel the producers should have gone for the harsher monochrome which 'The Cruel Sea' and 'Sink the Bismarck!' use so well. Black and white photography also makes the shift between location and studio work much less obvious.
There are some good performances in the film, notably Peter Finch as Langsdorff. I remember seeing newsreel footage of the real Langsdorff attending the funeral of his men in Montevideo, he gave a German Naval salute instead of the Nazi version. His portrayal as a 'decent' German has a basis in fact.
The battle of the River Plate was the last Naval action to take place without the benefit of technical advances such as radar. It was a fine piece of seamanship and the story deserved to be told. At the end of this film, unfortunately, you can't help feeling it could have been told better.
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