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Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.

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The Battle of the River Plate

From: What's On In London; November 2nd, 1956

I picked up a copy of "What's On in London" dated November 2nd 1957 A weekly booklet with "News, Reviews and full details of all London's entertainment".

The front cover advertises The Battle of the River Plate being shown as the 1956 Royal Performance Film at the Odeon, Leicester Square (Rank's flagship cinema) that week. This was the second time an Archers film had been so honoured. The first was when A Matter of Life and Death was chosen for the first Royal Film performance.

Inside, in the Cinema section, it is the main film reviewed:

It is easy to see why, after all the uproars of past years, Powell and Pressburger's THE BATTLE OF THE RIVER PLATE (Odeon, Leicester Square) was selected as this year's Royal Film. The story of a British Naval victory (if an inconclusive one in a sense) could cause no controvosy, surely. Ah, but I wonder ...

Long, meticulous in its Naval detail, a little confusing sometimes to the landlubber like myself, wonderfully photographed, the film shows the story of the battle between three small cruisers ("Exeter", "Ajax" and "Achilles") and the very large German pocket-battleship "Graf Spee". The battle is savage (though, commendably, not repellently bloody on the screen), exciting and extremely well staged and one gets some idea of what this kind of long-distance fight at sea must be to those who took part in it.

But some of the best scenes are the earlier quieter ones between Capt. Langsdorff (Graf Spee) and his prisoner Captain Dove (Bernard Lee). Finch, Lee, John Gregson (Capt. of the gallant "Exeter") and Anthony Quayle (of the "Ajax") all give performances above the average.

But about that controversy: the Germans involved are all shown as such jolly decent chaps, that I wonder how they'll go down with those unfortunates who found them otherwise...

F. Maurice Speed

I notice that in the Opera and Ballet section of the listings they announce:

Antonio and his Spanish Ballet
The most renowned and accomplished of all the Spanish dancers with his company including Rosita Sergovia. At the Palace Theatre, Cambridge Circus.

This was the same Antonio (and Rosita) who, two years later, were to star in Powell's Luna de miel.

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