7.7/10
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The Sand Pebbles (1966)

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 »

Director:

Writers:

(novel), (screenplay)
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Nominated for 8 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Emmanuelle Arsan ...
Maily (as Marayat Andriane)
...
...
Jameson
Charles Robinson ...
Ensign Bordelles
...
Stawski
...
Harris
...
Bronson
...
Joe Di Reda ...
Shanahan (as Joseph di Reda)
...
Major Chin
...
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 movie is often mistakenly described as being intended as an allegory for the Vietnam War, but Richard McKenna, the author of the best-selling novel on which the film was based, served on U.S. Navy gunboats in China during the 1930's and based the book on his own experiences. The Vietnam War allegory, perhaps inevitably, was ascribed to the film by the press on it's release in 1966, although not the original intention of the author, screenwriter, or director. See more »

Goofs

When Hollman reports aboard San Pablo, he salutes twice, once ostensibly for the National Ensign and once to the Officer of the Deck. As it is after dark, the Ensign is not flying and there is no saluting it. See more »

Quotes

Captain Collins: Pray for an early spring... or permission to open fire.
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

Referenced in A Decade Under the Influence (2003) 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

 
Steve McQueen remains the focal point in ambitious, sometimes rambling film...
28 August 2006 | by (U.S.A.) – See all my reviews

STEVE McQUEEN makes a completely believable machinist's mate aboard a U.S. Navy gunboat who finds himself enmeshed in the politics of unrest that existed in 1926 China during the period of the Boxer Rebellion. It's probably one of the finest roles of his career--honest, vexating, and completely true to the emotions of his character whose only real concern is taking care of his engines.

There are plenty of other good performances. RICHARD CRENNA is the Captain, uncertain of just how the U.S./Chinese friction should be solved, and CANDACE BERGEN is lovely as a missionary who has a tender romance with McQueen.

The exotic locales (it was filmed mostly in Taiwan), the lush background score by Jerry Goldsmith, and the confrontation between the U.S. Navy and the Chinese authorities which supplies the necessary suspense before an action-filled climax, all serve to make THE SAND PEBBLES a fascinating look at a period in history that is seldom explored. And, of course, it raises questions as to our role in imperialism and our interaction with the culture of foreign countries that make the film relevant today.

It's a long film, rather uneven in places, but directed with rare sensitivity by Robert Wise and richly detailed period atmosphere.


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