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... See full summary »
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Lee H. Katzin
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 <email@example.com>
Director Robert Wise was so proud of this film that he held yearly parties with surviving cast members to celebrate it. See more »
During one of the scenes where the San Pablo is in danger of being boarded by hostile Chinese, the crewmen are issued Springfield rifles. But they are not given any ammunition belts. Even if the rifles were loaded, which they would not normally be while in storage, they would hold only five cartridges (six with a round in the chamber). Such a limited supply of ammo would not have been enough to turn back the large number of Chinese if they had attempted to board the ship. See more »
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 »
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.
27 of 32 people found this review helpful.
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