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Pursuit of the Graf Spee (1956)

The Battle of the River Plate (original title)
In the first major naval battle of the Second World War, 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:
John Gregson ... Captain Bell - H.M.S. Exeter
Anthony Quayle ... Commodore Harwood-H.M.S. Ajax
Peter Finch ... Captain Hans Langsdorff - 'Admiral Graf Spee'
Ian Hunter ... Captain Woodhouse - H.M.S. Ajax
Jack Gwillim ... Captain Parry - H.M.N.Z.S. Achilles
Bernard Lee ... Captain Dove - M.S. Africa Shell
Lionel Murton Lionel Murton ... Mike Fowler
Anthony Bushell ... Mr. Millington Drake - British Minister, Montevideo
Peter Illing ... Dr. Guani - Foreign Minister, Uruguay
Michael Goodliffe ... Captain McCall - R.N., British Naval Attache, Buenos Aires
Patrick Macnee ... Lieutenant Commander Medley R.N.
John Chandos John Chandos ... Dr. Langmann - German Minister, Montevideo
Douglas Wilmer ... M. Desmoulins - French Minister, Montevideo
William Squire ... Ray Martin
Roger Delgado ... 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 tremendous story of the victory over the Graf Spee. See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | German | Spanish

Release Date:

November 1957 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Pursuit of the Graf Spee See more »

Filming Locations:

Atlantic Ocean See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

The Archers See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (cut)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (VistaVision)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ships used in the film: HMS Sheffield as HMS Ajax, INS Delhi (HMS Achilles 1933-41, HMNZS Achilles 1941-46) as HMS Achilles, HMS Cumberland as HMS Cumberland, Heavy Cruiser USS Salem as the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee. Light cruiser HMS Jamaica played the part of heavy cruiser HMS Exeter. See more »

Goofs

After HMS Cumberland had joined Ajax and Achilles replacing Exeter, the three ships portrayed in following scenes were still the same three initial cruisers, with HMS Jamaica playing a role of HMS Exeter. See more »

Quotes

Commodore Harwood-H.M.S. Ajax: In we go, Woody. To hell with battle instructions. We've got to draw his fire off Exeter. At this range we might as well bombard the beast with snowballs.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Referenced in The South Bank Show: Michael Powell (1986) 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

 
Excellent British Naval Drama. A Must-see.
15 September 2005 | by erwin5711See all my reviews

I love this movie. Peter Finch stars as Capt. Langsdorf of the German "pocket" battleship Admiral Graf Spee. He is perfect; from the almost swashbuckly entrance and dialogue with Capt. Dove, a merchant captain whose ship they've just sunk, to the trance-like confusion at the end of the film. There are so many great actors in this film its almost like "the Longest Day," except these guys act. Christopher Lee as Manolo, the jealous bar owner; Anthony Quayle as Commodore Harwood; Anthony Newly as a sailor with about three lines that he still manages to over-act; and John Gregson, who plays Capt. Bell of the British cruiser Exeter. Well known, and often quirky co-directors and writers, Emeric Pressburger and Michael Powell bring together spectacular shots of many of the actual ships involved in the battle with an almost ensemble-like feeling in the cast. From the British Ambassador with the no-nonsense, sharped-tongued secretary to the goofy-gaucho interpreter for the reporter, Mike Fowler, these powerfully presented characters intensify the real drama of this battle. It wasn't just a sea battle, it was political, involving sailors, spies, and bad cafe singing.


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