7.6/10
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113 user 26 critic

The Sand Pebbles (1966)

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2:56 | Clip
In 1926, a U.S. Naval engineer gets assigned to a gunboat on a rescue mission in war-torn China.

Director:

Robert Wise

Writers:

Richard McKenna (novel), Robert Anderson (screenplay)
Reviews
Nominated for 8 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Steve McQueen ... Jake Holman
Richard Attenborough ... Frenchy Burgoyne
Richard Crenna ... Captain Collins
Candice Bergen ... Shirley Eckert
Emmanuelle Arsan ... Maily (as Marayat Andriane)
Mako ... Po-han
Larry Gates ... Jameson
Charles Robinson ... Ensign Bordelles
Simon Oakland ... Stawski
Ford Rainey ... Harris
Joe Turkel ... Bronson
Gavin MacLeod ... Crosley
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:

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 »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for violence and sexual material | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Emmanuelle Arsan (Maily) is the same Emmanuelle who inspired (was later credited as being the author of) the book and movie Emmanuelle (1974), as well as the subsequent Emmanuelle movies. See more »

Goofs

Near the end of the fight scene between Stawski and Po-Han, when Frenchy charges forward, a boom mike can be seen dipping into the frame for a moment. See more »

Quotes

Jameson: If they obey orders then the Navy takes care of them. It's a way of life that appeals to a certain kind of man.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: SHANGHAI See more »

Alternate Versions

The original "roadshow" version ran 196 minutes; later cut to its present length (182 minutes) for its general release. The roadshow version was included in a 2007 special edition DVD release, which provided the first viewing of this version since the original 1966 release. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Nostalgia Critic: Red Sonja (2009) 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 »

User Reviews

 
Robert Wise's Masterpiece
7 May 2003 | by henri sauvageSee 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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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Mandarin

Release Date:

20 December 1966 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Sand Pebbles See more »

Filming Locations:

Taipei City, Taiwan See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (BBFC submission before censorship) | (roadshow)

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints) (Westrex Recording System)| Mono (35 mm prints) (Westrex Recording System)| 4-Track Stereo

Color:

Color (Color by Deluxe)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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