6.7/10
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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

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Captain Bell - H.M.S. Exeter
...
Commodore Harwood-H.M.S. Ajax
...
Captain Hans Langsdorff - 'Admiral Graf Spee'
...
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
...
Dr. Guani - Foreign Minister, Uruguay
...
Captain McCall - R.N., British Naval Attache, Buenos Aires
...
Lieutenant Commander Medley R.N.
John Chandos ...
Dr. Langmann - German Minister, Montevideo
Douglas Wilmer ...
M. Desmoulins - French Minister, Montevideo
...
Ray Martin
...
Captain Varela - Uruguayan Navy
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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:

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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

Runtime:

| (cut)

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Color:

(VistaVision)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Suez Crisis officially marked the end of the UK as a world power just before this film was released. See more »

Goofs

Little attempt is made to 'age' Montevideo to the period of the film and it looks far more like the mid-fifties, when it was filmed, than 1939. 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

Cabalgata de los Gauchos
(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 solid entry from Powell/Pressburger
9 December 2004 | by (New York, NY) – See all my reviews

Not withstanding the negative comments of some critics, this is another great Powell/Pressburger film. Perhaps what prevents it from getting its due is that it looks like another entry in the "big WW II battle recreation" genre, but the structure, the performances, and the film's intent in general aren't really in the service of that genre. The climactic battle is fought in the middle of the film, and the last third unexpectedly takes place on the docks and in the cafes and embassies of Montevideo, with a festival air and comedy relief. Powell rightly feels that the core of the film is Bernard Lee's admiration of his captor; indeed, the final scene is the expression of that admiration. Yet the viewer isn't "pointed" to that relationship. All the expository dialogue serves the battle scenes--where the Spee might be, how to attack it, the relationship between the British Commodore and his Captains--and later, the strategies of the Spee's leaving port. Particularly in the latter part, there's a lot of discussion which doesn't relate to the film's denouement. And the collection of British prisoners on the Spee don't coalesce into an ensemble. In an odd way, their fate never seems integrated into the battle, nor does it particularly highlight the relationship between Lee and Finch. This unusual structure is in part due to the film apparently following actual events fairly closely, and actual events don't follow conventional dramatic structure. But, really, that absence of conventional structure, and the refusal to emphasize the Lee-Finch relationship or to make it a dominant theme, are the film's greatest strengths. Finally, note should be taken of the superb photography in VistaVision.


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