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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 »



(novel), (screenplay)

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Nominated for 8 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Emmanuelle Arsan ...
Maily (as Marayat Andriane)
Charles Robinson ...
Ensign Bordelles
Joe Di Reda ...
Shanahan (as Joseph di Reda)
Major Chin


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


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


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

20 December 1966 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El Yang-Tsé en llamas  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$12,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (BBFC submission before censorship) | (roadshow)

Sound Mix:

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


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


When original composer Alex North fell ill, 20th Century Fox exercised their right to pull their contract composer Jerry Goldsmith from another studio's assignment- MGM's Grand Prix (1966). See more »


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 »


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 »


Featured in The EE British Academy Film Awards (2015) See more »


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

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User Reviews

McQueen's best ever performance
6 July 2001 | by (St. Paul, MN) – See all my reviews

This is truly my all time favorite film and not just because of the wonderful performances by McQueen, Crenna, Mako and the rest, but because I had an opportunity to experience the Asia culture first hand (during Viet Nam) and the depiction of the culture and the climate of the land is right on. I rank McQueen's performance right up there with my favorite Newman's performance in "Cool Hand Luke". Basically, the same type of a character, a loner challenging the boundries of their society's limits. It was a shame that the movie was released the same year as "A Man for All Seasons", because McQueen should have received and Oscar for this performance. I now own this video and I make a point of watching it once a year.

35 of 44 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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