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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 »

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(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)
...
Larry Gates ...
Jameson
Charles Robinson ...
Ensign Bordelles
...
Stawski
Ford Rainey ...
Harris
...
Bronson
...
Joe Di Reda ...
Shanahan (as Joseph di Reda)
Richard Loo ...
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:

This is the heroic story of the men on the U.S.S. San Pablo who disturbed the sleeping dragon of savage China as the threatened world watched in breathless 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

Robert Wise's first choice to play Jake Holman was Paul Newman. See more »

Goofs

At the end in the missionary's courtyard 2 Chinese soldiers are shot at the obelisk. One falls in the right open portion the other falls to the left. The left soldier disappears in subsequent scenes. See more »

Quotes

Jake Holman: I was home. What happened? What the hell happened?
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 »


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

 
Robert Wise's Masterpiece
7 May 2003 | by (nashville, tn) – See all my reviews

... and that's saying quite a bit, given his impressive filmography.

There are just a couple of points I'd like to add to the preceding commentary:

To really appreciate this movie, you must see it in letterbox, preferably on DVD. Joseph MacDonald's cinematography is breath-taking; you could take almost any individual frame of "The Sand Pebbles" and hang it on your wall as a work of art.

The second is that Wise himself (if you believe his commentary) wasn't trying to draw explicit parallels to Vietnam, where things did not begin to drastically escalate until near the end of filming for this movie. It's just that history has a sad habit of repeating itself.

If you get the DVD, listen to the commentary at least once: It's worth the time spent. Poor Candice Bergen: She comes across as simultaneously grateful for the opportunity to have worked on this film, and embarrassed that -- as a 19-year-old with little acting experience -- she didn't make a better job of it.

She should have credited Wise with seeing her possibilities a little better than she could. Bergen's gawky shyness is a pretty good fit with her role as a virginal, idealistic missionary newly arrived in China. Her often tentative body language works beautifully as a counterpoint to McQueen's assured and seemingly effortless performance, giving their doomed love affair great believability and poignancy.

This is an example of 60s' epic film-making at its best.


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