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The Sand Pebbles (1966)

Approved  |   |  Adventure, Drama, Romance  |  20 December 1966 (USA)
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 9,739 users  
Reviews: 100 user | 31 critic

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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Title: The Sand Pebbles (1966)

The Sand Pebbles (1966) on IMDb 7.7/10

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Nominated for 8 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Emmanuelle Arsan ...
Maily (as Marayat Andriane)
...
Larry Gates ...
Jameson
Charles Robinson ...
Ensign Bordelles
...
Stawski
Ford Rainey ...
Harris
...
Bronson
...
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 »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

20 December 1966 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El Yang-Tsé en llamas  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (BBFC submission before censorship) | (roadshow)

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints) (Westrex Recording System)| (35 mm prints) (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The San Pablo was purpose built for the film, in Hong Kong. She was actually powered by diesel engines: the black smoke from the stack came from old tires and other rubbish fired in a special compartment on the boat. After filming, the boat was sold and survived for some years with various building firms in the Far East, finally using the name Nola D and being scrapped in Singapore in 1975. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Frenchy Burgoyne: [exchanging marriage vows; slowly and with feeling] We're mixing our lives together, Maily, and we'll never be able to unmix them again, and we'll never want to. I take you for what you are, and all that you are, and mix you with all of me, and I don't hold back nothing. When you're cold, and hungry, and afraid, so am I. I'm going to stay with you all that I can, take the best care of you that I can, and love you 'til I die.
Maily: I will always love you and honor you and serve you, and stay as near to...
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 »

Connections

Featured in Steve McQueen: The King of Cool (1998) 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 »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Steve McQueen's best performance.
18 October 2001 | by (North Hemis) – See all my reviews

Steve McQueen felt an affinity for this role like few others in his career.

In this compelling war drama set in China in 1926, he plays American sailor Jake Holman, a man who's bonded to machinery more than people yet is imbued with a powerful sense of right and wrong. It's a part that plays perfectly to McQueen's strengths as an actor and his lifelong quest to hone performance into character, while jettisoning all but essential dialogue. All his emoting comes subtly: slight shifts of gaze; the way he cocks his head to listen; his complete stillness before action. In 1966 it also brought him his only Academy Award nomination, for Best Actor (but won that year by Paul Scofield for "A Man For All Seasons").

Scripter Robert Anderson had a tough job distilling Richard McKenna's sprawling novel of U.S. Navy gunboat 'San Pablo' (hence her sailors called themselves 'Sand Pebbles') at the start of the revolution that would tear China asunder and ultimately transform it into the post-WWII behemoth we know today. Luckily he and director Robert Wise knew to keep the plot's underpinnings solidly on the central irony of McKenna's story: that it is Jake's very alienation from his fellows that leads him inevitably to sacrifice and redemption. The ending is shocking and powerful; a reminder of better, more mature days in American film.

Wise directed on locations in Hong Kong and Taiwan with his customary mastery of both intense personal confrontation and epic sweep. In excellent support are Richard Attenborough, Richard Crenna and Mako. The film also features one of Jerry Goldsmith's most memorable scores.

I must again mention McKenna's novel. It is superb; sadly, the only full-length work he finished before his untimely death. It may be out of print but is well worth an online used book search.


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