Operation Amsterdam

Date: 1959
Director: Michael McCarthy
Production Company: The Rank Organisation, Maurice Cowan Productions

Stars: Peter Finch, Eva Bartok, Tony Britton
Location(s): London, Noord-Holland (Netherlands)

Region(s): ,


It is 1940, and the German invasion of the Netherlands is under way. A British officer and two Dutch diamond merchants travel to Amsterdam. Helped by local civilians, and shadowed by a fifth-columnist lieutenant who is determined to frustrate their plans, they race against time to gather the Dutch stocks of diamonds, and take them to England before the city falls to the advancing German army. Based on the book ‘Adventure in Diamonds’ by David E Walker.

Additional Information:

Screen captures and uncredited now shots by Phil Bailey

The Royal Netherlands Navy destroyer Piet Hein, formerly HMS Serapis, played the part of the British destroyer.

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A car arrives at an address in London. Emery Hill Street SW1, at the junction with Rochester Row.

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Originally a hostel for students of King's College Theology department, the building opposite now houses the Grange Wellington Hotel.

Major Dillon (Tony Britton) makes his way into the building. Emery Hill Street.

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W G Walkers has been replaced by an interior design firm.

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In the early morning half-light, the team are driven to join a British destroyer.

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They are picked up from the destroyer and landed at IJmuiden. A view west from the end of the Trawlerkade, with the Lage Vuurtoren on the right of the shot.

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As they land, bombs are falling. A view southeast on Trawlerkade.

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They are stopped by a nervous Dutch police officer with a pistol. Jan Smit (Peter Finch) and Dillon, with the top of the Hoge Vuurtoren behind.

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The policeman (John Bailey) suspects that they are fifth columnists; they ask to be taken to the port commander. Trawlerkade.

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Dillon, Smit and Walter Keyser (Alexander Knox) follow the policeman to the port commander's office.

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After contacting the port commander, the group are trying to find a car that works, to get to Amsterdam. A Mercedes forces its way through the crowds of refugees towards the edge of the quay. This is further southeast on Trawlerkade, at the junction with Eerste Havenstraat.

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The car is driven by Anna (Eva Bartok), intent on suicide. Jan Smit stops the car in the nick of time.

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Anna has agreed to drive the group to Amsterdam, but they are stopped at the port exit by the same policeman. Southeastern end of Trawlerkade.

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Anna's military pass has got them past the policeman, and they are en route to Amsterdam. Molendijk on the Beemster Polder, just south of the junction with Molenweg, between Schermerhorn and Ursem.

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Driving fast and trusting no-one, they force their way past a checkpoint at a bridge.

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In back projection, they speed away from the checkpoint.

Entering Amsterdam, they pass the Ceintuur Theater on Ceintuurbaan. The building now houses a restaurant.

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The impressive concrete façade today.

Soldiers search a civilian outside Ceintuurbaan 236.

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A burger bar today, with delivery bikes.

Heading west on Ceintuurbaan, approaching Hobbemakade, they have their first sight of the Pierement that will feature repeatedly through the film.

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A more cluttered view now.

They cross a bridge from Eerste Jan Steenstraat onto Hobbemakade . . .

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Little change here.

. . . and head north on Hobbemakade, past the junction with Cornelis Anthoniszstraat.

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Today. Viewed from Ruysdaelkade.

They approach the offices of J K Smit and Sons, Diamond Merchants, at Keizersgracht 804.

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Keizersgracht 804 was clad in scaffolding and netting on this occasion, View west with portable toilet.

Later, joined by Jan's father Johan Smit (Malcolm Keen) they make their way to the Alpha Club to consult other diamond merchants. Nieuwe Doelenstraat, looking northeast toward Kloveniersburgwal.

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A ground-level shot.

They leave the Alpha Club. The nameplate is clearly a prop, as it's moved since they went in.

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These look like the same doors, 60 years on. The building now houses the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Amsterdam.

Returning to Keizersgracht, they find a military patrol outside. View west to Utrechtsestraat.

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Parked cars and skips. The bridge is just visible.

Britton tells Anna to drive to Vijzelstraat. Though very distinctive, this doesn't match Vijzelstraat. Ah, here we are -- Roetersstraat looking north across the Halverstadbrug at Nieuwe Achtergracht. The building on the right of the shot has gone, replaced by a modern block belonging to the University of Amsterdam.

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The old and the new...

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On their way, they see more signs of the fear of fifth-columnists.

Passing a distinctive building. The turbine hall of the power station on the corner of Geschutswerf and Hoogte Kadijk, seen from Sarphatistraat.

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Completely obscured by trees from the original viewpoint. This shot is from a little closer.

Street fighting. The junction of Alexanderkade and Alexanderstraat.

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Little change in this quiet residential street.

'These are the people who stay to fight', Anna tells them.

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The northern corner of Alexanderplein, just west of the Muiderpoort. The Tropenmuseum is visible in the background.

They pass the Muiderpoort.

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Not much has changed here apart from the road layout.

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The car arrives at the Flower Market. This is a set at Pinewood Studios.

Dillon, on a separate mission of his own, carries two important suitcases to an appointment with a local resistance group. He's just emerged from Wijngaardstraatje into Oudezijds Voorburgwal.

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A bit too far to the left, this one, but it'll do for now.

He walks down Oudezijds Voorburgwal to the Armbrug.

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Also seen from the opposite direction in 'Modesty Blaise'.

He discovers that he's been followed by a soldier in Dutch army uniform, who has shot at him and now advances cautiously to try and locate him. View over Armbrug to Oudezijds Armsteeg.

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Far more bicycles chained to bridges today.

After a fight, Dillon drops his assailant, now rendered unconscious, into the canal. Vredenburgerbrug crossing Oudezijds Achterburgwal. An almost identical view is seen in 'Puppet on a Chain'.

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The same location in an image borrowed from 'Puppet on a Chain'. (PW)

This looked at first like a narrow alley, but it's number 2 Oudezijds Achterburgwal, with a truck parked close in front. The same location is seen again in capture 53.

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The view from the correct angle is obstructed today, but this isn't far off.

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Meanwhile Anna is driving Walter and Jan through the city. Anna notices that they are being followed.

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They enter a square, and Jan and Walter hastily leave the car and conceal themselves. The Pinewood set again.

Anna drives on, drawing the following car into a pursuit. She passes the Nieuwekerk heading into Eggertstraat...

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Complete with delivery truck that just beat me to it.

...and across in front of the Royal Palace with tyres squealing.

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Not much change here, of course.

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The pursuing car catches air as they speed east along Groenburgwal, crossing Raamgracht.

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Over a bridge. Haarlemmersluis, linking Haarlemmerstraat to Nieuwendijk.

Southeast on Prins Hendrikkade, past the Amrath Hotel.

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The magnificent building (the 'Scheepvaarthuis' originally housed the head offices of a number of shipping companies.

Along Prins Hendikkade, crossing the Kikkerbilssluis over Oude Schans

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A ground-level view, with the Nicolaaskerk visible in the background.

Into Schippersgracht, seen from Kadijksplein

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The large building on the right of the original shot has gone, allowing a view of the East Indiaman moored by the Maritime Museum.

Across a bridge in front of Schippersgracht. Not Kortjewantsbrug, as I initially thought, but the old Kattenburgerbrug, replaced by the current bridge between 1964 and 1967.

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The new, much less ornate, Kattenburgerbrug.

Well ahead of the pursuers at this point, Anna enters Nieuwmarkt from Keizersstraat...

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Today, with white van.

...crosses the square in front of the Waag and leaves along Bloedstraat.

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Today, with scaffolding and netting. The trees have gone, too.

The lieutenant looks in frustration down multiple possible escape routes. This one is Koestraat, from Nieuwmarkt...

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Much the same today.

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Bethanienstraat, from Oudezijds Achterburgwal...

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Greenery taking over...

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Dillon has handed over his suitcases and the resistance group set off in a truck. Oudezijds Achterburgwal, seen from the Vredenburgerbrug.

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Railings, reflecting the fact that access to parts of this area is now restricted.

Jan climbs from the rear window of a cafe to escape the lieutenant, who has again caught up with him and Walter. Oudezijds Kolk.

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The window has become a door, but this is the place.

Jan and Walter run southwest along Oudezijds Kolk.

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Now with railings, and bikes chained to them.

Anna, having shaken off the pursuit, is returning to the square. Halvemaansbrug, with the Munttoren in the background.

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Taken from a canal tour boat, which isn't the right viewpoint but not too far out.

Thwarted yet again by the lieutenant as they try to leave the offices in Keizersgracht, the group are rescued in the nick of time by troops commanded by Colonel Janssen (John Le Mesurier). Utrechtsestraat at the bridge over Keizersgracht.

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More scaffolding, and tram stops.

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Back in the square the group, aided by the resistance fighters, are breaking into the safe deposit boxes containing the remaining diamond stocks. The lieutenant arrives with troops and a fierce firefight develops. This is the same set as seen in captures 30 and 37, although some of the buildings have moved.

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For completeness, a view in the opposite direction.

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The four return to IJmuiden. Beemster Polder again; this is Ondermolen O on the Molenweg at the junction with Molendijk.

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On the road, a Messerschmitt begins strafing the refugee column. The group leave the car and take cover. Molendijk, with the village of Schermerhorn ahead.

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Back in IJmuiden, they head to the end of the quay to find a boat. The Vissersmonument on Sluisplein is concealed with nets, as it wasn't there in 1940.

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A commandeered tug leaves the harbour to return Dillon, Jan and Walter to the destroyer.