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 nine 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 six or eight ships awaited them. Rather than chance the loss of his men, the German Captain ordered the Graf Spee scuttled.Written by
Attention to detail was particularly important to the producers, so all of the naval procedures depicted in this movie are completely accurate. The scene where Harwood meets with his Captains on-board the Ajax, however, was a fictitious one, created in order to explain the situation to the audience. See more »
When Benard Lee is on the deck of the "Graf Spee", one of the main battery turrets plainly has a U.S. Navy "E" on it. See more »
"The Battle of the River Plate" (1956) is Powell and Pressburger's most underrated movie. Set in 1939, its about the British navy trying to capture "The Graf Spee" pursued by the "HMS Ajax", "HMS Exeter" and "HMS Achilles".Most people say it is not up to the standard as, say, "A Matter of Life and Death", but I disagree. As it is not one of the more wider known parts of World War Two, it makes the first half tense and exciting. But its the second half, when "The Graf Spee" hides in a neutral port where it kicks into high gear. The whole place reeks of atmosphere, unequalled in any over Powell and Pressburger film. As I have said before, a very underrated movie, that is well worth watching.
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