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Pursuit of the Graf Spee (1956)

The Battle of the River Plate (original title)
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:
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
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
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:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (cut)

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


This was Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's most financially successful film. 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 Langsdorff 'Admiral Graff Spee': [to Captain Dove] Every commander is alone, Captain.
See more »

Crazy Credits

H.M.S. Sheffield as H.M.S. Ajax 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

A well done documentary of the Graf Spee
26 February 2004 | by (Washington State, USA) – See all my reviews

According to historical records available, this movie held closely to the true story of the Graf Spee and the pursuit by the British Navy to catch and engage her in battle. The ship used in the movie as the Graf Spee was the USS Salem, CA139, Heavy cruiser. Filming on board the US Salem was taken while she was on duty in the Mediterranean. The US Salem at the time was the US Navy's Flag Ship, 6th fleet. Some of the Salem's crew participated as German sailors. I rate the movie as a first-class documentary. Other documentary movies in this class include: The sinking of the Bismarck. Dos-Boot

16 of 26 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

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Authenticity christopher_sargeant
TCM once again is showing a film in the wrong ratio Wfs1933
If you loved this filum.... freya1939
Battle of the River Plate on Ch4 now in HD! michaelmuk
Am researching info on this movie Jean_Pierre_Borg
Question about the helmets and uniforms on board the Graf Spee (Salem) fountaincap
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