The Battle of the River Plate

Pursuit of The Graf Spee

1956

Michael Powell
Director
Emeric Pressburger
Director
The Archers
Production Company
J. Arthur Rank Organisation
Studio

The title says it all, plot-wise. The pursuit and battle scenes are well-handled, though perhaps a little too slow moving. The scrupulous attention to accuracy is notable, Graf Spee obviously being an American heavy cruiser notwithstanding. Unfortunately, once it moves to land, the film falls flat. The diplomatic scenes are well done, but Murton's loud reporter and Lee and Olrich's stereotypical beach bar owners make those scenes very hard to tolerate. The blurb in the opening credits "a cast of 100 Speaking Parts we would like to name but can only thank" comes across as more than slightly obnoxious, not least when you are trying to figure out those names.

Note on credits: Where the actors are playing real historical persons, I have attempted to name them where possible. I believe this ties in with the Archers' desire for historical accuracy. The various ships are named in the opening credits, but I have placed them at the very end, after the actors, for clarity's sake.

Several cast members of the Archers' previous production, Oh. . .Rosalinda!! can be seen leaving Manolo's bar. Perhaps a cast party? Some scenes appear to have been trimmed down or removed completely from the final print, as some names on cast lists could not be found in the final film.The original release is listed as 119 minutes, video releases run 114 minutes.

Though the credits lists Achilles as HMNZS, ships of the NZ Division used the HMS prefix until October 1941 when the division was renamed the Royal New Zelanad Navy.

-Dave W.



30th November 1956
Cinema



119 mins
1.85:1


1st November 1957
Cinema


106 mins
1.85:1



HyperLink
"
John Gregson
Captain Frederick S. Bell,
commanding HMS Exeter
Anthony Quayle
Commodore Henry H. Harwood,
commanding South Atlantic squadron with flag aboard HMS Ajax
Ian Hunter
Captain Charles H. L. Woodhouse,
commanding HMS Ajax
Jack Gwillim
Captain William E. Parry,
commanding HMS Achilles
Bernard Lee
Patrick G. G. Dove,
Master, MS Africa Shell
Lionel Murton
Mike Fowler
Anthony Bushell
Eugen Millington Drake,
British Minister, Montevideo
Peter Illing
Dr. Alberto Guani,
Foreign Minister, Uruguay
Michael Goodliffe
Captain Henry McCall,
British Naval Attaché in Buenos Aires
Patrick Macnee
Lieutenant Commander Ralph C. Medley,
HMS Ajax
John Chandos
Dr. Otto Langmann,
German Minister, Montevideo
Douglas Wilmer
M. Desmoulins,
French Minister, Montevideo
William Squire
Ray Martin
Roger Delgado
Captain Varela,
Uruguayan Navy
Andrew Cruickshank
Captain William Stubbs,
SS Doric Star
Christopher Lee
Manolo
Edward Atienza
Pop
April Olrich
Dolores
Peter Finch
Kapitän zur See Hans W. Langsdorff,
Admiral Graf Spee
David Farrar
Voice: Narrator
Douglas Argent
Sub-Lieutenant, HMS Ajax
Vincent Ball
Barnes, HMS Achilles
Ken Barker
Marine Officer, HMS Ajax
Michael Barnes
Midshipman, HMS Ajax
Raymond Barrie
Able Seaman E. V. Shirley,
HMS Achilles
Terence Bayler
Stoker, HMS Achilles
Richard Beale
Charles Pottinger,
Master, SS Ashlea
Victor Beaumont
Officer on Graf Spee
David Benson
Marine Officer, HMS Ajax
John Britton
Navigator, HMS Ajax
Robert Bruce
Commander (T) Charles J. Smith, Torpedo Officer
HMS Exeter
Anna Burden
Madame Desmoulins
Richard Burrell
Lt. Commander (N) John Bowman-Manifold, Navigating Officer
HMS Exeter
Tony Burton
Young Sailor, Aft-conning, HMS Exeter
David Cameron
Lieutenant Edgar D. G. Lewin, HMS Ajax
Alan Casley
Rating, Aft-conning, HMS Exeter
Ronald Clarke
Lookout, HMS Exeter
Michael Collins
Chief Yeoman, HMS Ajax
James Copeland
Chief Yeoman of Signals Lincoln C. Martinson, HMS Achilles
Robert Crewdson
Minor role
Tita Dane
Hostess, Palacio Salvio
Gron Davies
N. Doye, Chief Engineer, SS Trevanion
Denton De Gray
Lieutenant R. E. N. Kearney
Maxwell Denne
Petty Officer, HMS Achilles
Patrick Dove
J. R. Robinson, Master,
SS Streonshalh
Peter Dyneley
John Robison, Master,
SS Newton Beech
Eynon Evans
Q. B. Bell, Chief Engineer,
SS Newton Beach
Jack Faint
A. Miller, Chief Officer, SS Ashlea
Peter Fontaine
Lieutenant Desmond P. Dreyer, Gunnery Officer, HMS Ajax
John Forbes-Robertson
Lieutenant Donald T. McBarnet,
HMS Exeter
Frank Forsyth
Petty Officer, Bridge, HMS Ajax
Barry Foster
Able Seaman Bill Roper, Capt. Bell's Messenger, HMS Exeter
Colin Freer
2nd Messenger, HMS Ajax
Richard George
Beasley, Chief Officer,
SS Trevanion
Keith Grieve
Sick Bay PO, HMS Achilles
Lucia Guillon
Telephone Girl, Montevideo
Peter Halliday
Guani's Secretary, Montevideo
Ken Hayward
Spotting Officer, HMS Exeter
Patrick Horgan
Signalman, HMS Achilles
Helen Horton
American Guest, Palacio Salvio
Mary Jones
Miss Esther Shaw, Millington Drake's Secretary
Kerry Jordan
Ordinary Seaman Rogers, HMS Achilles
Patrick Jordan
Signalman, Aft-conning, HMS Exeter
Marvin Kane
American Guest, Palacio Salvio
Howard Lang
Commander Richard B. Jennings, Gunnery Officer
HMS Exeter
John Le Mesurier
Rev. George Groves, HMS Exeter
Frank Lloyd
Messenger, HMS Achilles
Cyril Luckham
Lt. Jasper Abbot, HMS Achilles
Kenneth Luckman
Mess PO, HMS Achilles
Ivor Mairants
Guitarist
Alan Masterson
'Snotty,' Midshipman, HMS Exeter
Lane Meddick
P.O. Stacey, HMS Achilles
John Merivale
Lieutenant G. G. Cowburn, HMS Achilles
Kenneth Midwood
Petty Officer, Gunnery Control, HMS Exeter
Donald Moffat
Swanston, Look Out, HMS Ajax
George Murcell
J. L. Coutts, Chief Officer, Newton Beech
Anthony Newley
British Officer aboard Graf Spee
Joseph O'Conner
W. Ray, Chief Engineer, SS Doric Star
David Paltenghi
Customs Officer, Montevideo
Conrad Phillips
Lt. R. E. Washbourn, Gunnery Officer, HMS Achilles
Ambrosine Phillpotts
Mrs. Millington-Drake, Montevideo
Columba Powell
Lost Child
Edward Powell
Chief Officer, SS Huntsman
Irene Prador
Spanish Wife
Peter Prowse
Lookout, HMS Exeter
Roy Purcell
Lieutenant Richard R. S. Pennefather, HMS Ajax
Rive Rola
Alan Rolfe
PO, HMS Exeter
David Rose
Boy (First Class) Allan M. Dorset, HMS Achilles
John Schlesinger
Oberleutnant Hertzberg, Graf Spee
Peter Scott
1st Messenger, HMS Ajax
Peter Smallwood
Spotting Officer, HMS Ajax
Muriel Smith
Dolores (singing voice)
Julian Somers
Oberbootsmann on Graf Spee
Barry Steele
Midshipman, HMS Ajax
Graham Stewart
Signalman, HMS Exeter
Robert Cartland
Captain, Tacoma
Colin Douglas
Officer, SS Huntsman
Otto Friese
Tairoa Officer
Nigel Stock
Chief Officer F.M. Murphy, SS Tairoa
Alan Townsend
Duty Officer, HMS Ajax
Guy Verney
Commander Robert R. Graham, Executive Officer
HMS Exeter
Tony Wager
Lookout, HMS Ajax
Colin Wall
Boy Bugler, HMS Exeter
John Warren
Chief Yeoman of Signals Alan Higginbottom, HMS Exeter
Patrick Westwood
Archer, HMS Ajax
Gordon Whiting
Chief Engineer, HMS Exeter
Ian Whittaker
Messenger, Boiler Room, HMS Achilles
David Williams
Lookout, HMS Exeter
Neil Wilson
Mess PO, HMS Achilles
Brian Worth
William Comber, Radio Officer, SS Doric Star
HMS Sheffield
HMS Ajax
INS Delhi
HMS Achilles
(as HMNZS Achilles)
HMS Jamaica
HMS Exeter
HMS Cumberland
HMS Cumberland
USS Salem
Admiral Graf Spee
(as the U.S. heavy cruiser "Salem")
Chris Adcock
Chief Officer, SS Doric Star
Tony Castleton
Harwood's Flag Lieutenant
Dan Cressy
German Sailor
Barry Johns
Second Officer, SS Doric Star
Ken Lawton
Lookout, HMS Ajax
Jimmy Lodge
Huntsman Survivor
John Payne
Bridge Officer, HMS Achilles
Jeff Silk
Rating, HMS Achilles
Unknown Male 96
Rating, HMS Ajax
Dennis Carnell
Survivor
Paul Beradi
Policeman Outside Manolo's
Mabel Etherington
Manolo's Patron
Fred Haggerty
German Sailor
George Holdcroft
Manolo's Patron
Arthur Howell
Tairoa Officer
Frederick Jaeger
German Sailor
John Lynn
German Sailor with Luggage
John Lynn
Manolo's Patron
Alec Mango
Manolo's Patron
Louis Matto
Manolo's Patron
Colin McKenzie
Officer, HMS Ajax
Tony Mendleson
Manolo's Patron
Lola Morice
Maonolo's Patron
Ian Parsons
Merchant Prisoner
George Roderick
Manolo's Patron
John Smart
Manolo's Patron
Unknown Male 34
Trevanion Officer
Harry Van Engel
German Sailor
Roy Everson
Edwin Fowles
Frank Littlewood
Paul Phillips
Unknown Male 9
James Ure
Nicholas Bruce
Hildy Christian
Terence Cooper
Olivia Irving
Manuella
Randal Kinkead
Maya Koumani
Philip Levene
Gangway Officer, Tacoma
Peter Macarte
Senor Torres
Alicia Massey-Beresford
Maria Mercedes
Madame X
Michael Murray
HMS Birmingham
Various
RFA Fort Duquesne
Tacoma
RFA Olna
Altmark

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