The Battle of the River Plate (Pursuit of the Graf Spee) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Battle of the River Plate (Pursuit of the Graf Spee) Reviews

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March 22, 2016
I loved this movie. Great battle scenes.
September 1, 2015
Must watch Maritime Movie!
September 29, 2013
Enjoyable and intelligent war movie for a Sunday
½ September 11, 2013
This film is dripping in classic a list starts, It tells the true story of In the ensuing battle, Exeter was severely damaged and forced to retire; Ajax and Achilles suffered moderate damage. The damage to Graf Spee, although not extensive, was critical; her fuel system was crippled. Ajax and Achilles shadowed the German ship until she entered the port of Montevideo, the capital city of neutral Uruguay, to effect urgent repairs. After Graf Spee's captain Hans Langsdorff was told that his stay could not be extended beyond 72 hours, he scuttled his damaged ship rather than face the overwhelmingly superior force that the British had led him to believe was awaiting his departure, but also brings in personal accounts of the crew, this is considered one of the best and most factual of the war films at that time.
½ March 10, 2013
Written, produced and directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), Black Narcissus (1947) and The Red Shoes (1948)), this is a portrayal of a real life naval battle that occurred. It might be a bit overlong, but it does have a good cast. It was also the last good film that Powell and Pressburger made before they went into a decline. In 1939, the German Navy are destroying merchant raiders in the Atlantic Ocean, the British Navy, with Commodore Harwood (Anthony Quayle), with Captain Woodhouse (Ian Hunter) commanding the Ajax, Captain Bell (John Gregson) commanding the Exeter and Captain Parry (Jack Gwillim) commanding the Achilles, go out looking for the Graf Spee, which is commanded by Captain Hans Langsdorff (Peter Finch), whose ship has British prisoners on board. After a battle at sea, the Graf Spee is left badly damaged, and has to go to the neutral port of Montevideo for repairs, but the Uruguayan authorities tell the crew they can only stay in port for 24 hours, by this point, the British are ready to attack. It's a good war film, and it has some lovely rich cinematography by Christopher Challis, and it has some nice locations done in Malta doubling for Montevideo, but it could have done with being 30 minutes shorter. Oh, and look out for a young Christopher Lee.
½ November 10, 2012
Love this kind of boys own adventure when it is very well done and with a bit of complexity. The true story is what the Captain of the Graf Spee did after the story of the film concludes. The film is nicely layered to bring into the equation the importance of disinformation and diplomacy and the interest it sparked in the USA in the issues in the War
½ August 17, 2012
Watchable, But Nothing Special. Movie was a bit flat & slow in places.
Super Reviewer
½ August 3, 2012
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.
May 25, 2012
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November 30, 2011
Lovely Powell and Pressburger retelling of an early WWII naval battle, without the usual (for that time) caricaturing of the German sailors. A very interesting story, and it is worth noting that [SPOILERS] Captain Langsdorff committed suicide soon after scuttling his ship, something the film doesn't mention.
½ January 23, 2011
Mediocre war movie in which the story shifts in terms of visuals and tone far too much. The dialogue is often muddled and the shots are often a combination of the mediocre and the amateur, which is surprising given this film's lavish budget. The worst part is that their is no sense of a duel between the British and German admirals, although the film is set up for it.
½ October 27, 2010
Not as good as the book, but still well worth a watch. I particularly liked how there were real ships used rather than models.
½ July 16, 2010
Although you have to have tremendous patience with it, pretty much the first 3/4 is quite mind numbing sea strategy between the Nazis and the British, it is somewhat interesting, and then it really picks up (like everything else should) once we get to Paraguay. As with the other Archers war film Colonel Blimp, this has an extreme attention too detail. How much detail you can take is up to you to decide, but this is one of the more technical war movies ever made. Well done, but not exactly action-y.
April 16, 2010
Enjoyable retelling of the action against the German Pocket Battleship Admiral Graf Spee in Dec 1939. Powell and Pressburger do a great job of detailing believable characters and naval procedures and the battle itself is pretty exciting. Peter Finch is excellent as the noble Langsdorff and Anthony Quayle has a stiff upper lip as Commodore Harwood. They are ably supported by familiar British character actors like Anthony Bushell, Patrick Macnee, Bernard Lee, John Le Mesurier as HMS Exeter's padre and Christopher Lee, who appears as a swarthy Uruguayan bar owner and speaks only a few lines in Spanish!
½ December 22, 2009
An excellent account of of one the first major battles at sea in World War II. Three Royal Navy cruisers take on a much more powerful German pocket battleship off the coast of South America in December 1939. The film faithfully shows the humanity and mutual respect of the naval commanders on both sides.
October 19, 2009
Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger had one of the greatest runs in film history from 1941 to 1951 that included some of the greatest films of all time: The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, I Know Where I'm Going!, A Matter of Life and Death, Black Narcissus, and The Tales of Hoffman. However in 1955, they did Oh Rosalinda!, an adaptation of Die Fledermaus that is bafflingly awful when you consider what came before. They never really recovered. This is one of the post-Rosalinda films, a pretty routine movie about the 1939 battle between the German Graf Spee and three much smaller British ships. Seeing this and their final collaboration, Ill Met by Moonlight, you would never think that Powell and Pressburger just a few years before had pushed cinema to its operatic, surrealistic limit.
½ October 8, 2009
Battleships and stiff upper lips
½ September 26, 2009
A true story - filmed using several operational warships, one of which actually took part in the battle itself. Excellently done.

"What price snowballs now??!"
February 20, 2009
A movie that shows off the skill and tenacity of the Royal Navy when we still ruled the waves. A movie full of Britishness!
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