The Battle of the River Plate

Pursuit of The Graf Spee


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

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

119 mins

1st November 1957

106 mins

John Gregson
Captain Frederick S. Bell,
commanding HMS Exeter

b: Saturday, 15th March 1919
d: Wednesday, 8th January 1975
Anthony Quayle
Commodore Henry H. Harwood,
commanding South Atlantic squadron with flag aboard HMS Ajax

b: Sunday, 7th September 1913
d: Friday, 20th October 1989
Ian Hunter
Captain Charles H. L. Woodhouse,
commanding HMS Ajax

b: Wednesday, 13th June 1900
d: Tuesday, 23rd September 1975
Jack Gwillim
Captain William E. Parry,
commanding HMS Achilles

b: Wednesday, 15th December 1909
d: Monday, 2nd July 2001
Bernard Lee
Patrick G. G. Dove,
Master, MS Africa Shell

b: Friday, 10th January 1908
d: Friday, 16th January 1981
Lionel Murton
Mike Fowler
b: Wednesday, 2nd June 1915
d: Tuesday, 26th September 2006
Anthony Bushell
Eugen Millington Drake,
British Minister, Montevideo

b: Thursday, 19th May 1904
d: Wednesday, 2nd April 1997
Peter Illing
Dr. Alberto Guani,
Foreign Minister, Uruguay

b: Saturday, 4th March 1899
d: Saturday, 29th October 1966
Michael Goodliffe
Captain Henry McCall,
British Naval Attaché in Buenos Aires

b: Thursday, 1st October 1914
d: Monday, 22nd March 1976
Patrick Macnee
Lieutenant Commander Ralph C. Medley,
HMS Ajax

b: Monday, 6th February 1922
d: Thursday, 25th June 2015
John Chandos
Dr. Otto Langmann,
German Minister, Montevideo

b: Friday, 27th July 1917
d: Monday, 21st September 1987
Douglas Wilmer
M. Desmoulins,
French Minister, Montevideo

b: Thursday, 8th January 1920
d: Thursday, 31st March 2016
William Squire
Ray Martin
b: Sunday, 29th April 1917
d: Wednesday, 3rd May 1989
Roger Delgado
Captain Varela,
Uruguayan Navy

b: Friday, 1st March 1918
d: Monday, 18th June 1973
Andrew Cruickshank
Captain William Stubbs,
SS Doric Star

b: Wednesday, 25th December 1907
d: Thursday, 28th April 1988
Christopher Lee
b: Saturday, 27th May 1922
d: Sunday, 7th June 2015
Edward Atienza
b: Sunday, 27th January 1924
d: Tuesday, 16th September 2014
April Olrich
b: Monday, 17th July 1933
d: Tuesday, 15th April 2014
Peter Finch
Kapitän zur See Hans W. Langsdorff,
Admiral Graf Spee

b: Thursday, 28th September 1916
d: Friday, 14th January 1977
David Farrar
Voice: Narrator
b: Friday, 21st August 1908
d: Thursday, 31st August 1995
Douglas Argent
Sub-Lieutenant, HMS Ajax
b: Saturday, 21st May 1921
d: Saturday, 30th October 2010
Vincent Ball
Barnes, HMS Achilles
b: Tuesday, 4th December 1923
Ken Barker
Marine Officer, HMS Ajax
b: Tuesday, 19th June 1928
d: Wednesday, 24th June 1998
Michael Barnes
Midshipman, HMS Ajax
Raymond Barrie
Able Seaman E. V. Shirley,
HMS Achilles
Terence Bayler
Stoker, HMS Achilles
b: Friday, 24th January 1930
d: Tuesday, 2nd August 2016
Richard Beale
Charles Pottinger,
Master, SS Ashlea

b: Thursday, 13th May 1920
d: Monday, 27th March 2017
Victor Beaumont
Officer on Graf Spee
b: Thursday, 7th November 1912
d: Monday, 21st March 1977
David Benson
Marine Officer, HMS Ajax
John Britton
Navigator, HMS Ajax
Robert Bruce
Commander (T) Charles J. Smith, Torpedo Officer
HMS Exeter

b: Tuesday, 1st January 1918
d: 09/??/1967
Anna Burden
Madame Desmoulins
Richard Burrell
Lt. Commander (N) John Bowman-Manifold, Navigating Officer
HMS Exeter

b: Thursday, 4th June 1925
d: Friday, 13th July 1984
Tony Burton
Young Sailor, Aft-conning, HMS Exeter
David Cameron
Lieutenant Edgar D. G. Lewin, HMS Ajax
b: Saturday, 21st January 1933
d: Tuesday, 7th August 2012
Alan Casley
Rating, Aft-conning, HMS Exeter
b: 0619/1920
d: Monday, 4th February 1991
Ronald Clarke
Lookout, HMS Exeter
Michael Collins
Chief Yeoman, HMS Ajax
b: Sunday, 21st May 1922
d: Tuesday, 25th December 1979
James Copeland
Chief Yeoman of Signals Lincoln C. Martinson, HMS Achilles
b: Wednesday, 1st May 1918
d: Wednesday, 17th April 2002
Robert Crewdson
Minor role
b: Thursday, 20th January 1927
Tita Dane
Hostess, Palacio Salvio
Gron Davies
N. Doye, Chief Engineer, SS Trevanion
b: Tuesday, 15th February 1921
d: 10/??/2001
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

b: Wednesday, 13th April 1921
d: Friday, 19th August 1977
Eynon Evans
Q. B. Bell, Chief Engineer,
SS Newton Beach

b: Wednesday, 18th May 1904
d: 1989
Jack Faint
A. Miller, Chief Officer, SS Ashlea
Peter Fontaine
Lieutenant Desmond P. Dreyer, Gunnery Officer, HMS Ajax
b: Wednesday, 21st July 1920
d: Tuesday, 7th June 2016
John Forbes-Robertson
Lieutenant Donald T. McBarnet,
HMS Exeter

b: Thursday, 10th May 1928
d: Wednesday, 14th May 2008
Frank Forsyth
Petty Officer, Bridge, HMS Ajax
b: Tuesday, 19th December 1905
d: Wednesday, 2nd May 1984
Barry Foster
Able Seaman Bill Roper, Capt. Bell's Messenger, HMS Exeter
b: Sunday, 21st August 1927
d: Monday, 11th February 2002
Colin Freer
2nd Messenger, HMS Ajax
Richard George
Beasley, Chief Officer,
SS Trevanion

b: Friday, 3rd June 1898
d: 12/??/1961
Keith Grieve
Sick Bay PO, HMS Achilles
Lucia Guillon
Telephone Girl, Montevideo
Peter Halliday
Guani's Secretary, Montevideo
b: Monday, 2nd June 1924
d: Saturday, 18th February 2012
Ken Hayward
Spotting Officer, HMS Exeter
Patrick Horgan
Signalman, HMS Achilles
b: Sunday, 26th May 1929
Helen Horton
American Guest, Palacio Salvio
b: Wednesday, 21st November 1923
d: 2009
Mary Jones
Miss Esther Shaw, Millington Drake's Secretary
b: Saturday, 20th February 1915
d: Monday, 26th March 1990
Kerry Jordan
Ordinary Seaman Rogers, HMS Achilles
Patrick Jordan
Signalman, Aft-conning, HMS Exeter
b: Saturday, 20th October 1923
Marvin Kane
American Guest, Palacio Salvio
b: Saturday, 31st August 1929
d: Wednesday, 22nd August 2012
Howard Lang
Commander Richard B. Jennings, Gunnery Officer
HMS Exeter

b: Monday, 20th March 1911
d: Monday, 11th December 1989
John Le Mesurier
Rev. George Groves, HMS Exeter
b: Friday, 5th April 1912
d: Tuesday, 15th November 1983
Frank Lloyd
Messenger, HMS Achilles
Cyril Luckham
Lt. Jasper Abbot, HMS Achilles
b: Thursday, 25th July 1907
d: Wednesday, 8th February 1989
Kenneth Luckman
Mess PO, HMS Achilles
Ivor Mairants
b: Saturday, 18th July 1908
d: Friday, 20th February 1998
Alan Masterson
'Snotty,' Midshipman, HMS Exeter
Lane Meddick
P.O. Stacey, HMS Achilles
b: Tuesday, 18th March 1924
d: Sunday, 1st January 2017
John Merivale
Lieutenant G. G. Cowburn, HMS Achilles
b: Saturday, 1st December 1917
d: Tuesday, 6th February 1990
Kenneth Midwood
Petty Officer, Gunnery Control, HMS Exeter
b: Thursday, 8th September 1921
d: Monday, 22nd January 2007
Donald Moffat
Swanston, Look Out, HMS Ajax
b: Friday, 26th December 1930
d: Thursday, 20th December 2018
George Murcell
J. L. Coutts, Chief Officer, Newton Beech
b: Friday, 30th October 1925
d: Thursday, 3rd December 1998
Anthony Newley
British Officer aboard Graf Spee
b: Thursday, 24th September 1931
d: Wednesday, 14th April 1999
Joseph O'Conner
W. Ray, Chief Engineer, SS Doric Star
David Paltenghi
Customs Officer, Montevideo
b: 1919
d: Saturday, 4th February 1961
Conrad Phillips
Lt. R. E. Washbourn, Gunnery Officer, HMS Achilles
b: Monday, 13th April 1925
d: Wednesday, 13th January 2016
Ambrosine Phillpotts
Mrs. Millington-Drake, Montevideo
b: Friday, 13th September 1912
d: Sunday, 12th October 1980
Columba Powell
Lost Child
Edward Powell
Chief Officer, SS Huntsman
Irene Prador
Spanish Wife
b: Sunday, 16th July 1911
d: Monday, 8th July 1996
Peter Prowse
Lookout, HMS Exeter
b: Friday, 30th November 1923
d: Wednesday, 15th December 1976
Roy Purcell
Lieutenant Richard R. S. Pennefather, HMS Ajax
b: Sunday, 26th January 1919
d: Monday, 31st July 2000
Rive Rola
Alan Rolfe
PO, HMS Exeter
b: Sunday, 5th April 1908
d: Thursday, 29th December 2005
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)
b: Friday, 23rd February 1923
d: Friday, 13th September 1985
Julian Somers
Oberbootsmann on Graf Spee
b: Thursday, 12th November 1903
d: Thursday, 11th November 1976
Barry Steele
Midshipman, HMS Ajax
b: Thursday, 3rd March 1921
d: Thursday, 30th September 1982
Graham Stewart
Signalman, HMS Exeter
b: Monday, 5th September 1927
d: Tuesday, 29th July 2003
Robert Cartland
Captain, Tacoma
b: 1922
d: Thursday, 14th July 2011
Colin Douglas
Officer, SS Huntsman
b: Sunday, 28th July 1912
d: Saturday, 21st December 1991
Otto Friese
Tairoa Officer
b: 1928
Nigel Stock
Chief Officer F.M. Murphy, SS Tairoa
b: Sunday, 21st September 1919
d: Monday, 23rd June 1986
Alan Townsend
Duty Officer, HMS Ajax
b: 1925
d: 1964
Guy Verney
Commander Robert R. Graham, Executive Officer
HMS Exeter

b: Friday, 5th November 1915
d: Saturday, 19th September 1970
Tony Wager
Lookout, HMS Ajax
b: Friday, 24th June 1932
d: Sunday, 23rd December 1990
Colin Wall
Boy Bugler, HMS Exeter
John Warren
Chief Yeoman of Signals Alan Higginbottom, HMS Exeter
b: Monday, 13th November 1916
d: 1977
Patrick Westwood
Archer, HMS Ajax
b: Wednesday, 10th December 1924
d: Friday, 21st April 2017
Gordon Whiting
Chief Engineer, HMS Exeter
b: Thursday, 9th May 1918
d: 02/??/2002
Ian Whittaker
Messenger, Boiler Room, HMS Achilles
b: 1928
David Williams
Lookout, HMS Exeter
b: 1922
d: Sunday, 29th July 1984
Neil Wilson
Mess PO, HMS Achilles
b: Saturday, 24th June 1916
d: Friday, 24th January 1975
Brian Worth
William Comber, Radio Officer, SS Doric Star
b: Thursday, 30th July 1914
d: Friday, 25th August 1978
HMS Sheffield
HMS Ajax
INS Delhi
HMS Achilles
(as HMNZS Achilles)

b: Thursday, 1st September 1932
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
b: Friday, 7th April 1922
d: Thursday, 1st January 1998
Tony Castleton
Harwood's Flag Lieutenant
d: 1987
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
Paul Beradi
Policeman Outside Manolo's
Mabel Etherington
Manolo's Patron
Fred Haggerty
German Sailor
b: Sunday, 14th July 1918
d: 2002
George Holdcroft
Manolo's Patron
Arthur Howell
Tairoa Officer
b: Monday, 5th January 1920
d: 08/??/2003
Frederick Jaeger
German Sailor
b: Tuesday, 29th May 1928
d: Friday, 18th June 2004
John Lynn
German Sailor with Luggage
John Lynn
Manolo's Patron
Alec Mango
Manolo's Patron
b: Thursday, 16th March 1911
d: Tuesday, 7th November 1989
Louis Matto
Manolo's Patron
b: Tuesday, 16th August 1910
d: Sunday, 16th April 1989
Colin McKenzie
Officer, HMS Ajax
Tony Mendleson
Manolo's Patron
Lola Morice
Maonolo's Patron
b: Saturday, 12th October 1912
d: Monday, 14th December 1998
Ian Parsons
Merchant Prisoner
George Roderick
Manolo's Patron
b: Thursday, 9th October 1913
d: Wednesday, 10th March 1976
John Smart
Manolo's Patron
Unknown Male 34
Trevanion Officer
Harry Van Engel
German Sailor
b: Sunday, 26th April 1931
Roy Everson
Edwin Fowles
Frank Littlewood
b: Friday, 13th May 1904
d: Saturday, 7th February 1976
Paul Phillips
Unknown Male 9
James Ure
Nicholas Bruce
Hildy Christian
Terence Cooper
b: Wednesday, 5th July 1933
d: Tuesday, 16th September 1997
Olivia Irving
b: Thursday, 6th September 1934
d: Tuesday, 29th May 1962
Randal Kinkead
b: Saturday, 20th July 1929
d: Wednesday, 29th January 2014
Maya Koumani
Philip Levene
Gangway Officer, Tacoma
b: Wednesday, 9th June 1926
d: 03/??/1973
Peter Macarte
Senor Torres
b: Sunday, 11th August 1929
d: Wednesday, 12th June 1991
Alicia Massey-Beresford
b: Sunday, 12th October 1919
d: 1999
Maria Mercedes
Madame X
b: 1927
Michael Murray
HMS Birmingham
b: Tuesday, 1st September 1936
d: 1960
RFA Fort Duquesne
b: Thursday, 28th September 1944
d: Wednesday, 28th June 1967
RFA Olna
b: Thursday, 28th December 1944
d: Thursday, 19th January 1967

Dave Wright: Screencaps & Notes