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

6.6
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 2,536 users  
Reviews: 39 user | 17 critic

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

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Title: Pursuit of the Graf Spee (1956)

Pursuit of the Graf Spee (1956) on IMDb 6.6/10

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Nominated for 3 BAFTA Film Awards. See more awards »
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Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Gregson ...
Captain Bell - H.M.S. Exeter
...
Commodore Harwood-H.M.S. Ajax
Ian Hunter ...
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'
Edit

Storyline

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

Taglines:

The true and moving story of a mighty sea battle [Video Australia] See more »


Certificate:

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Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

November 1957 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Pursuit of the Graf Spee  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (cut)

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Color:

(VistaVision)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

HMS Battleaxe was also used as a camera ship (off Malta). See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Captain McCall - R.N., British Naval Attache for Buenos Aires: [McCall is telephoning the British Ambassador in Buenos Aires to try to spread a rumour] An emergency has arisen over the 'Graf Spee'.
British Ambassador in Buenos Aires (Voice): Careful, McCall - security.
Captain McCall - R.N., British Naval Attache for Buenos Aires: I know, sir, but this is most urgent. I have just heard by Admiralty code...
British Ambassador in Buenos Aires (Voice): This isn't a scrambler, you know.
Captain McCall - R.N., British Naval Attache for Buenos Aires: ...that two of our capital ships...
British Ambassador in Buenos Aires (Voice): Are you MAD, McCall? I'm going to hang up!
Captain McCall - R.N., British Naval Attache for Buenos Aires: Sir, I must insist - in this case urgency overrides security.
British Ambassador in Buenos Aires (Voice): 'Urgency overrides security?' Well, well, well, go on, go on.
Captain McCall - R.N., British Naval Attache for Buenos Aires: Both these capital ...
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

H.M.S. Jamaica as H.M.S. Exeter See more »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

Rio de la Plata
(uncredited)
Music by Brian Easdale
Lyrics by Manuel Salina
Performed by April Olrich (dubbed by Muriel Smith)
See more »

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User Reviews

A change of pace from Powell & Pressburger
1 October 2001 | by See all my reviews

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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