The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
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All Critics (11)
| Top Critics (4)
| Fresh (9)
| Rotten (2)
The battle sequences, in which the lightweight British cruisers close in on the Graf Spee and force the enemy to take shelter in Montevideo harbor, are powerful, exciting and technically impressive.
Give the British filmmakers a good, rousing subject from their own naval history and they're almost certain to come up with a picture that proudly bespeaks the courage and audacity of a hero breed.
Powell and Pressburger's final collaboration as The Archers was also, perhaps, their dullest.
Though it's mostly a waiting game, the film is tense and involving, thanks to Powell's fluid shifting of the point of view.
This account of the first of the war's major naval actions is straightforward, serious and made with a scrupulous concern to be fair to both sides.
The film is adroitly directed by Powell and Pressburger, though the concentration is on the vessels, rather than the men aboard them.
Not Powell and Emeric's greatest work, but still a cut above many '50s war movies.
The miniature work is excellent and physical production impressive even as the filmmakers constantly deny the spectacle of battle to focus on the people...
... a rather routine chronicle of the capture of the feared German battleship the Graf Spee.
An enjoyable and more than usually thoughtful Second World War film. Expertly photographed, cleverly paced and full of good humour and empathy.
During the early days of World War II, the Nazis tried to starve Great Britain by targeting its merchant fleet. One of Germany's deadliest weapons was the pocket battleship Graf Spee, where Captain Langsdorff(Peter Finch) welcomes aboard Captain Dove(Bernard Lee) after sinking his ship, the Africa Spell, in disputed waters off Portugese East Africa. Langsdorff soon fulfills his promise that Dove will have company, but not before one of the survivors gets off a radio message before his ship is sunk. So, now Commodore Harwood(Anthony Quayle) has a pretty good idea where the Graf Spee will be, as he waits with the destroyers Ajax, Achilles and Exeter.
Written, directed and produced by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, "The Battle of the River Plate" gets off to a slow start, with minimal cuts, that serves its purpose in setting the stage for the taut action that is to follow. As such, the movie aims to give a realistic portrayl of naval warfare during World War II with the navies in full seek and destroy mode, armed with equal measures of skill and luck. Surprisingly, the characters are rather fond of rules, which get quoted a lot. Instead of dragging the movie down, this actually helps with adding suspense, especially with the ironic ending. As the story is told mostly from the British side, I do wish more time had been given over to Langsdorff as he does seem interesting in an old school sort of way and therefore something of an anomaly.
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