51 user 28 critic

The Sandpiper (1965)

TV-14 | | Drama | 23 June 1965 (USA)
3:21 | Trailer
A free-spirited single mother forms a connection with the wedded headmaster of an Episcopalian boarding school in Monterey, California.


Vincente Minnelli


Martin Ransohoff (story), Irene Kamp (adaptation) | 3 more credits »
Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »





Complete credited cast:
Elizabeth Taylor ... Laura Reynolds
Richard Burton ... Dr. Edward Hewitt
Eva Marie Saint ... Claire Hewitt
Charles Bronson ... Cos Erickson
Robert Webber ... Ward Hendricks
James Edwards ... Larry Brant
Torin Thatcher ... Judge Thompson
Tom Drake ... Walter Robinson
Douglas Henderson Douglas Henderson ... Phil Sutcliff (as Doug Henderson)
Morgan Mason Morgan Mason ... Danny Reynolds


Twenty-something Laura Reynolds (Dame Elizabeth Taylor) is a free spirit who questions social conventions, laws, and regulations. A struggling artist, she lives in a secluded beach-side cabin in Big Sur with her nine-year-old illegitimate son, Danny (Morgan Mason), on who she has instilled her values. Because of this questioning of convention, Laura has decided to home school Danny. Also because of this questioning of the law, Danny runs into some legal problems, and as such is court ordered to be sent to San Simeon, a Christian school in Monterey, California. This order is against Laura's wishes. The school's headmaster is Dr. Reverend Edward Hewitt (Richard Burton), who tries to convince Laura that San Simeon is not the prison she probably believes it to be. Married for twenty-one years to his faithful wife Claire (Eva Marie Saint), Edward has become more a fund-raiser at all cost (for a new chapel) rather than an educator or Priest. Despite their differences, Laura and Edward begin... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The screen's most exciting stars in the year's most provocative motion picture... See more »




TV-14 | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The third of eleven movies in which Dame Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton starred together. See more »


In a beach scene, Laura is shown sketching on a drawing pad. In shots facing her, she is always holding the pad up with her left hand. In shots facing Edward, the pad is propped up against some driftwood. At one point she is lying face down, with both elbows in the sand, her left hand on her head and sketching with her right. When the camera angle changes, she is suddenly partially raised up on one side, facing Edward. The drawing pad is flat on the sand with a rock in the middle of it. See more »


Judge Thompson: [referring to her son, Danny] Why did you take that boy out of school?
Laura Reynolds: His teacher was a fool. I've taught him more in two months than he learned at school in a full term.
Judge Thompson: In the course of his studies, what have you taught him about respect for the law?
Laura Reynolds: As he grows up, he'll learn that there are good laws, and bad ones. He'll respect the good ones.
Judge Thompson: And disobey the bad ones!
Laura Reynolds: At least I hope he does.
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Referenced in A Statue for 'The Sandpiper' (1965) See more »


The Shadow of Your Smile
Words by Paul Francis Webster
Music by Johnny Mandel
Performed by Jack Sheldon
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User Reviews

Sleazy, beautiful and entertaining.
16 February 2013 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

I recommend this film for one huge reason--the location. Although not terribly far from Hollywood, I am very surprised that more films have not been set around Big Sur and Point Lobos (just south of Carmel and Monterey, California), as it's one of the most beautiful places on Earth. See this location in person if you can--I just did and was captivated by its beauty and the film just brought back memories of the place. But,...back to the film itself!

"The Sandpiper" begins with a VERY free-spirited mother (Elizabeth Taylor) being hauled into family court because her young son has had another brush with the law. The problems are not serious but the judge is shocked that Taylor is so unrepentant in the way she raises the kid. She's an atheist, is extremely permissive and home schools the boy with her own blend of unusual teaching. Nowadays or even in the late 60s, this sort of child raising wouldn't have gotten much notice (particularly in California)--but here in 1965 it's a bit scandalous--especially since Taylor's character never married nor does she care about legitimizing the boy. Because of this and the child's actions, he is sent to live at a nearby residential school run by the church. Taylor thinks that the Episcopal priest running the place (Richard Burton) is shocked by all this and immediately dislikes him, but he seems rather patient and caring. However, through the course of the film, the two begin to see each other more and more and it's apparent that soon the two will be hitting the sheets together--even though he's married (to a woman, not just God). What's to come of these two? See the film if you'd like.

Apart from the great location shooting, the film is a mixed bag. Some would clearly be offended by its irreverent plot, others bored (as it's VERY talky at times and the dialog becomes awful at about 80 minutes into the film) and others would love it. Those who like really salacious soaps of the era (such as "Peyton Place" and the like) will probably adore the film--as it is filled with fiery content (not just the affair but an attempted rape) and a good looking couple (well, at least Liz). And, in many ways, these same folks often felt like they were peering into the real life relationship between this couple. As for me, I loved the scenery and laughed at the love story. It seemed contrived and you wondered just how any priest could be that stupid. Plus, the dialog between Liz and Dick on the beach was pretty laughable as was the fight at the 106 minute mark and Dick's sermon towards the end. I see the film as a guilty pleasure you see once...and only once. Then, afterwords, to make penance for this, you should watch a really GOOD film!

By the way, despite the name, San Simeon School is supposed to be in nearby Monterey (just north of Big Sur) and has no relation to the Hearst mansion (San Simeon) a couple hours south. Also, I was impressed by a supporting role by James Edwards. For a black actor, it was a great role--a non-black and non-stereotypical role. For its era, it was ahead of its time.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

23 June 1965 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Flight of the Sandpiper See more »

Filming Locations:

Monterey, California, USA See more »


Box Office


$5,300,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)


Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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