The Battle of the River Plate 1956

Battle of the River Plate 6

Filmed in VistaVision and shot in Technicolor – Written  and Directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and released in 1956

The managed to bring together spectacular shots of many of the actual ships

This film was shown on BBC2 this afternoon – still looks good.

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Peter Finch – ABOVE – stars as Capt. Langsdorf of the German “pocket” battleship Admiral Graf Spee. He is perfectly cast

Also starring  Anthony Quayle as Commodore Harwood  and John Gregson, who plays Capt. Bell of the British cruiser Exeter


I did a post some months ago on John Gregson and his former home on the River Thames – and that seems to get the most visits on this site. I think at around that time, there was a programme on Talking Pictures which had his Wife and family being interviewed on what would have been his 100th Birthday.

One of his sons appeared on the TV programme Eggheads – and it was mentioned that he was John Gregson’s son which caused a lot of interest from the resident team of experts.

It just goes to show that even today, John Gregson remains well known and popular. Talking Pictures does indeed take a lot of the credit for that in that they have shown the full TV series of  ‘Gideon on the Yard’ which he starred in – as well as many films such as this one.

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Some of the location work was filmed in Malta and Gozo and well as Argentina

There are so many good and well known actors in this film including Bernard Lee,  Andrew Cruikshank, Ian Hunter, Barry Foster, Douglas Wilmer and Roger Delgado to name but a few.

Another name in the cast would be Patrick MacNee,   and in a small part John Le Mesurier

Christopher Lee has a minor role as Manolo, the jealous bar owner.

Battle of the River Plate 3


In the early years of WWII, the Royal Navy struggled to keep British supply routes clear. This film tells the true story of the hunt for one of their biggest threats, the German warship Graf Spee.


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In places this was an Action packed film

Battle of the River Plate


The Picture Show of 1956 carried this cover picture

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Above:  Ian Hunter, John Gregson and Anthony Quayle in a scene from the film – Not sure who the actor on the right is though.




posted by Movieman in Uncategorized and have Comments (7)

7 Responses to “The Battle of the River Plate 1956”

  1. David Rayner says:

    I went to see this film, supported on release by the multi-award winning Technicolor short film “The Red Balloon” at the age of ten in April, 1957 and I remember the occasion as one of the highlights of my childhood. Both films had been chosen for The Royal Film Performance at the Odeon, Leicester Square, in October, 1956, and the programme was very successful at the British Box Office. I suppose that, like the much later “The Magnificent Seven”, “The Battle of the River Plate” / “The Red Balloon” was one cinema programme that just about everyone who went to the pictures at that time went to see.

    • Movieman says:

      David, Many Thanks. That would have been a Highlight indeed. I am pleased you told us of the film programme which also had ‘The Red Balloon’ something I did not know. I well remember ‘The Red Balloon’ getting a lot of publicity on Television at the time of it’s release. We are lucky to have such memories and from my angle I can often date events from the films of the day – I used to know when many of them were released and it gives something of a yardstick to link other events.

  2. David Rayner says:

    You obviously didn’t go to see it on its original release, Neil, as no matter what cinema it played at, it was always supported by “The Red Balloon”. There was an absolute magic about going to the cinema in those days that has completely gone now. It was a very exciting time.

    • Movieman says:

      David, You are right in that I didn’t see this film on it’s release at the cinema – and probably have not seen it on the big cinema screen. Like you on a visit to the Cinema in those days, I can remember the sheer excitement of going – and I was often shivering with anticipation. I remember when I was very young and My Mother and Father took us to see King Solomon’s Mines. What a wonderful experience – the colour was outstanding and the thrill of seeing those African locations on that enormous screen, was unbelievable. I can nearly re-live it now – and when I watch that film again, I always think of that time. Neil

  3. Words of Iron says:

    Might the other fellow on the right in the photo be Commander Jack William Frederick Gwillim, playing Achilles Captain Parry?

  4. David Rayner says:

    Yes, it is Jack Gwillim, often seen in films as an authority figure, such as the Archbishop of Canterbury of a police detective.

  5. Words of Iron says:

    In the 39th minute of the film, as the sun rises, when looking through binoculars, a crew member says ” There she is, the old tiriagi (sic)”. I do not know what this word(s) means. Anyone able to enlighten me, please?

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