Operation Amsterdam

Operation Amsterdam is a 1959 British action film, directed by Michael McCarthy, and featuring Peter Finch, Eva Bartok and Tony Britton. It is based on a true story as described in the book Adventure in Diamonds, by David E Walker.[3] The action of the story covers a few days in May 1940 when the Germans invaded the Netherlands. The composer Philip Green composed two original pieces of music for the film, the Pierement Waltz and the Amsterdam Polka.[4]

Operation Amsterdam
Original cinema poster
Directed byMichael McCarthy
Produced byMaurice Cowan
Written byJohn Eldridge
Michael McCarthy
Based onnovel Adventure in Diamonds by David E. Walker.
StarringPeter Finch
Eva Bartok
Tony Britton
Music byPhilip Green
CinematographyReginald Wyer
Edited byArthur Stevens
Maurice Cowan Productions & Rank Organisation[1]
Distributed byRank Organisation (UK)
20th Century Fox (US)[1]
Release date
  • 12 January 1959 (1959-01-12) (UK)[2]
  • 6 July 1960 (1960-07-06) (U.S.)[2]
CountryUnited Kingdom


In May 1940, as the German invasion of the Netherlands is under way, the British government decides to send a team to the Netherlands on board HMS Walpole [5] to secure stocks of industrial diamonds before the invaders can get to them. Accordingly, two Dutch diamond experts, Jan Smit (Peter Finch) and Walter Keyser (Alexander Knox) with a British Army Intelligence officer, Major Dillon (Tony Britton), are dropped by ship off the Dutch coast. Dodging German bombs and suspicious Dutch police and soldiers, they commandeer a car driven by Anna (Eva Bartok), whom they have just saved from trying to commit suicide. The four of them drive to Amsterdam.

They meet Jan's father at his diamond business house and he agrees to try to persuade other dealers to bring their diamonds later that day for transport to Britain. But as many of the stones are stored in a time-locked bank vault which won't open for 24 hours, they recruit a group of sabotage experts to break in.

With the Dutch police, including suspected fifth columnists, on their trail, the group manage to break into the vault and recover the diamonds. The three visitors make their escape whilst the armed Dutch helpers hold down the police and soldiers. They drive back to the coast, barely dodging German bombers.

As they embark on a commandeered tugboat to take them back to the waiting ship, Anna elects to remain in the Netherlands and work with the nascent resistance movement.



The film was based on a true story. British intelligence smuggled out ten million pounds worth of industrial diamonds from Schmidt's Diamonds in Amsterdam.[6]

Filming took place in October 1958.[7] It was shot at Pinewood Studios and on location in Amsterdam.

"I like my part in the film, it is one of my strongest," said Finch during filming.[8]


The film was one of seven Rank films bought for distribution in the US by 20th Century Fox. The others were Upstairs and Downstairs, Sink the Bismarck!, Northwest Frontier, Ferry to Hong Kong, The Wind Cannot Read and The Captain's Table.[9]


  1. IMDb Company credits Retrieved 2011-09-05
  2. IMDn release info Retrieved 2011-09-05
  3. Adventure in Diamonds
  4. Dutch Polka
  5. HMS Walpole, event 13 May 1940 - uboat.net
  6. Filmer, Fay (20 September 1958). "GOSSIP". Picture Show. London. 71 (no.1851): 3–4.
  7. Scheuer, Philip K. (16 October 1958). "Old Yeller' Author Sells 'Creek' Tale: Gipson, Nash on, New Scripts; Rank Studios Found Thriving". Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File). Los Angeles, CA.: B11.
  8. Nepean, Edith (1 November 1958). "Round the British Studios". Picture Show. London. 71 (no.1857): 11.
  9. "Of Local Origin". New York Times (1923-Current file). New York, N.Y: 25. 7 January 1960.
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