7.6/10
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109 user 24 critic

The Sand Pebbles (1966)

In 1926, a U.S. Naval engineer gets assigned to a gunboat on a rescue mission in war-torn China.

Director:

Robert Wise

Writers:

Richard McKenna (novel), Robert Anderson (screenplay)
Reviews
Nominated for 8 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Steve McQueen ... Jake Holman
Richard Attenborough ... Frenchy Burgoyne
Richard Crenna ... Captain Collins
Candice Bergen ... Shirley Eckert
Emmanuelle Arsan ... Maily (as Marayat Andriane)
Mako ... Po-han
Larry Gates ... Jameson
Charles Robinson ... Ensign Bordelles
Simon Oakland ... Stawski
Ford Rainey ... Harris
Joe Turkel ... Bronson
Gavin MacLeod ... Crosley
Joe Di Reda Joe Di Reda ... Shanahan (as Joseph di Reda)
Richard Loo ... Major Chin
Barney Phillips ... Franks
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Storyline

Engineer Jake Holman arrives aboard the gunboat U.S.S. San Pablo, assigned to patrol a tributary of the Yangtze in the middle of exploited and revolution-torn 1926 China. His iconoclasm and cynical nature soon clash with the "rice-bowl" system which runs the ship and the uneasy symbiosis between Chinese and foreigner on the river. Hostility towards the gunboat's presence reaches a climax when the boat must crash through a river-boom and rescue missionaries upriver at China Light Mission. Written by Martin H. Booda <booda@datasync.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

THE STORY OF MEN...men who disturbed the sleeping dragon of China as the world watched in terror! See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for violence and sexual material | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Mandarin

Release Date:

20 December 1966 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El Yang-Tsé en llamas See more »

Filming Locations:

Taipei City, Taiwan See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (BBFC submission before censorship) | (roadshow)

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints) (Westrex Recording System)| Mono (35 mm prints) (Westrex Recording System)| 4-Track Stereo

Color:

Color (Color by Deluxe)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Production was already well underway when someone watching the rushes, casually commented that Steve McQueen "dressed right" referring to the position of his quite noticeable male bulge, traditionally flaunted by genuine seamen, but usually suppressed by Hollywood, especially after the introduction of the Production Code. Of course, it was too late for retakes, but for the rest of the movie, McQueen's underwear is apparently tight enough to prevent any further sightings. Whether McQueen was just trying to be authentic, or doing his own brand of upstaging, or both, we shall never know. See more »

Goofs

The Captain is shown on the bridge and behind him is shown a round black aluminum radar reflector. Radar had not been invented in 1926. See more »

Quotes

Jake Holman: [Holman enters the engine room after boarding the San Pablo. He looks around the room, smiles and places his hand on the machinery] Hello, Engine; I'm Jake Holman.
See more »

Crazy Credits

There is a credit for 'Diversions by Irving Schwartz' in tribute to a mysterious, unknown correspondent whose letters proved a morale booster to cast and crew during trying location work in Hong Kong and Taiwan. See more »

Alternate Versions

The original "roadshow" version ran 196 minutes; later cut to its present length (182 minutes) for its general release. The roadshow version was included in a 2007 special edition DVD release, which provided the first viewing of this version since the original 1966 release. See more »

Connections

Referenced in What's My Line?: Steve McQueen (1966) See more »

Soundtracks

Sleepy Time Gal
(uncredited)
Music by Richard A. Whiting and Ange Lorenzo
Lyrics by Ray Egan and Joseph R. Alden
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Strong Epic Film Which Got Shafted At Oscar Night
29 August 2007 | by ccthemovieman-1See all my reviews

What a powerful story! It's hard to believe this epic movie - three hours in length - was nominated for eight Academy Awards and came away with nothing. It seems unjust. Well, not everything is "just" in this dramatic story, either. Good people die, bad people live. Incredible joy and sorrow are but a few minutes away. The story is well-told and thus keeps your attention, is well-acted and is nicely- filmed.

My only complaint was the last 13 minutes when the film got a little too political and, of course, tilted to the Left as films tend to do. Otherwise, I throughly enjoyed the experience of watching this long movie, and sorry I didn't watch this years ago. Well, better late than never, is all I can say. This movie is worthy of any serious film collector's attention.

Robert Wise directed and he did a fabulous job. I just love some of the shots and camera angles in this widescreen production, which was done justice in a recently--released two- disc DVD. The cinematography was by Joseph MacDonald. I'm sorry he didn't win an Oscar.

The story has something for everyone: several action scenes, two romances, a little humor, some flag waving and flag disparaging, and a lot of drama and intrigue. I also found two interesting character studies: "Jake Holman," by lead actor Steve McQueen, and "Captain Collins-," with Richard Crenna. Both men delivered numerous surprises.

There also is a lot of hostility by the Chinese toward the "invaders," the Americans. China's revolution during the period this story takes place (md '20s) had two factions: the Nationalists, led by Chiang Kai-shek, and the Communists. The former was generally a peaceful organization, the latter, pretty violent. Neither one wanted outsiders running their country any longer.

The cast - well-known and not-so well--known, was solid from McQueen on down. I think it was odd to hear Richard Attenborugh with an American accent but he did a nice job with it. Crenna played the most interesting character, in my opinion, as captain hard to figure. As for the supporting actors, Simon Oakland ("Stawski") and Mako ("Po-han") stood out to me.

I'm not going get into the story, as enough reviewers have already done that. Photograhy-wise, it was nice to see most of this shot outdoors, not on some studio lot or sound-stage. I enjoyed all of the shots of the ship, the "San Pablo." Having just bought (7/5/10) the Blu-Ray edition of this film, I'm anxious to see it in this format now. It promises to be a treat.

Overall, a memorable story and highly-recommended.


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