The incredibly gifted directing/writing/producing team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger missed the boat a bit with The Pursuit of the Graf Spee. Graf is by no means a bad film, but it is a surprisingly lifeless one, and that's perhaps by design. Although the film details an important naval conflict of World War II, it's a conflict that is more concerned with choices than with action. It's an interesting idea to make an "action" film that purposely downplays the action and tries to build tension more from wondering what choices characters should make and whether they have made the right ones, whether those choices will work in their favor or come back and strike them down. But somehow these prodigiously capable filmmakers get too caught up in this idea and never find a way to make it dramatically compelling. They're too talented to create a film that has no interest, but Graf is definitely one of their lesser efforts, despite some very fine cinematography, some excellent staging and some keenly observed character moments. There's also solid work from Anthony Quayle, Peter Finch and John Gregson, but it doesn't make Graf a "must see" film experience.
by Craig Butler review