Operation Amsterdam (1958, Peter Finch, Eva Bartok)

Operation Amsterdam

“Michael McCarthy’s considerable experience in the documentary field is well in evidence in semi-factual war melodrama Operation Amsterdam set in Nazi-occupied Holland,” wrote Monthly Film Bulletin of this fast-moving thriller whose action takes place in May 1940 just as the Germans invade Holland.

British officer Major Dillon (Tony Britton) is sent from London with Dutch gem experts Jan Smit (Peter Finch) and Walter Keyser (Alexander Knox) to Amsterdam to secure the city’s stock of industrial diamonds and prevent them from falling into the hands of the Germans. When they arrive on a British destroyer the harbour is under heavy bombardment and they find they have only 14 hours to accomplish their mission.

Anna (Eva Bartok), a Dutch woman who works for the War Ministry, drives them into Amsterdam where they meet with Finch’s father (Malcolm Keen) who is a leading diamond merchant. He agrees to help them and persuades some of his friends to cooperate. But other dealers are unable to reach their stocks because it is a bank holiday and the vaults are controlled by a time lock, so Dillon and a resistance group begin the long job of blowing up the vaults. A German patrol arrives and there is a pitched battle outside the Bourse before Dillon gets his party away safely with the diamonds. They make a dash for the harbour but Anna decides to remain and carry on the fight in Holland …

As Monthly Film Bulletin said, “there is some beautifully lucid location photography which brings Amsterdam vividly to life.” Variety agreed, writing: “McCarthy has evoked a fascinating picture of a scared, torn city on the verge of disaster. He has created a sense of lonely desolation which makes for a highly dramatic background.”

UK / 1958

Director: Michael McCarthy
Writers: Michael McCarthy, John Eldridge. From the novel Adventures in Diamonds by David E Walker

Cast: Peter Finch, Eva Bartok, Tony Britton, Alexander Knox, Malcolm Keen, Tim Turner, John Horsley, Melvyn Hayes, Christopher Rhodes