🎥 Battle of the River Plate – 1956
The Story …
In the early months of the Second World War, Nazi Germany’s Kriegsmarine sends out merchant raiders to attack Allied shipping.
The British Royal Navy responds with hunting groups whose mission is to stop these attacks. In time, the German battleship Admiral Graf Spee is discovered in the Atlantic, just off South America, by a trio of British cruisers.
With its speed and destructive firepower, Graf Spee is a formidable menace. Nevertheless, the British go straight into attack, closing swiftly to minimise the Graf Spee’s substantial advantage in gun range …
The British use their superior numbers to split her fire by attacking from different directions. But Graf Spee, under Captain Hans Langsdorff (Peter Finch), inflicts much damage on her foes. One of them, HMS Exeter, is particularly hard hit and is forced to retire to the Falklands for repair.
For her own part, the Graf Spee sustains some damage and takes refuge in the neutral port of Montevideo, Uruguay, for repairs. According to international law, the ship may remain in a neutral harbour only long enough to repair for seaworthiness, not to refit for battle; any overstay will lead to the ship and its crew being interned for the duration of the war.
The British initially demand the Uruguayan authorities send Graf Spee out to sea within 24 hours, but once they recognise that reinforcements can arrive for an impending second battle they change their strategy and lobbied for an extension for the Germans.
In reality, the most powerful British ships are still extremely distant, but local media spreads false reports that more Royal Navy warships have arrived, including battleships and aircraft carriers; in fact, only three cruisers (Exeter having been replaced by HMS Cumberland) lie in wait.
The story unfolds …
- Directed by : Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
- Written by : Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
- Produced by : Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
- Narrated by : David Farrar
- Cinematography : Christopher Challis
- Edited by : Reginald Mills
- Music by : Brian Easdale
- Distributed by : Rank Film Distributors Ltd.
- Release Date : 29 October 1956
- Peter Finch as Captain Hans Langsdorff Admiral Graf Spee
- Bernard Lee as Captain Patrick Dove MS Africa Shell
- Andrew Cruickshank as Captain William Stubbs SS Doric Star
- Peter Dyneley as Captain John Robison SS Newton Beech
- Anthony Quayle as Commodore
Ian Hunter as Captain Charles Woodhouse
- Julian Somers as Quartermaster of Admiral Graf Spee
- Patrick Macnee as Lieutenant Commander Ralph Medley HMS Ajax
- John Gregson as Captain Frederick “Hookie” Bell
- Jack Gwillim as Captain Edward Parry
- John Le Mesurier as the Chaplain of HMS Exeter
- Donald Moffat as Able Seaman Swanston
- Barry Foster as Able Seaman Roper
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