The Battle of the River Plate

The Battle of the River Plate (a.k.a. Pursuit of the Graf Spee in the United States) is a 1956 British war film in Technicolor and VistaVision by the writer-director-producer team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. The film stars John Gregson, Anthony Quayle, Bernard Lee and Peter Finch. It was distributed worldwide by Rank Film Distributors Ltd.


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.