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 <email@example.com>
Director Robert Wise was so proud of this movie that he held yearly parties with surviving cast members to celebrate it. See more »
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 »
[Observing, from the bridge of the USS "San Pablo," as Mr. Jameson heads out on a Chinese junk on his way back upriver to his mission at China Light]
The next incident, they could just as well turn on him and kill him.
Well, at least he's off our necks, sir.
Our primary mission is still to defend American lives - even if they are damned fools.
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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 »
What a powerful story! It's hard to believe this epic movie - three hours in length - was nominated for eight Academy Awards and came away with nothing. It seems unjust. Well, not everything is "just" in this dramatic story, either. Good people die, bad people live. Incredible joy and sorrow are but a few minutes away. The story is well-told and thus keeps your attention, is well-acted and is nicely- filmed.
My only complaint was the last 13 minutes when the film got a little too political and, of course, tilted to the Left as films tend to do. Otherwise, I throughly enjoyed the experience of watching this long movie, and sorry I didn't watch this years ago. Well, better late than never, is all I can say. This movie is worthy of any serious film collector's attention.
Robert Wise directed and he did a fabulous job. I just love some of the shots and camera angles in this widescreen production, which was done justice in a recently--released two- disc DVD. The cinematography was by Joseph MacDonald. I'm sorry he didn't win an Oscar.
The story has something for everyone: several action scenes, two romances, a little humor, some flag waving and flag disparaging, and a lot of drama and intrigue. I also found two interesting character studies: "Jake Holman," by lead actor Steve McQueen, and "Captain Collins-," with Richard Crenna. Both men delivered numerous surprises.
There also is a lot of hostility by the Chinese toward the "invaders," the Americans. China's revolution during the period this story takes place (md '20s) had two factions: the Nationalists, led by Chiang Kai-shek, and the Communists. The former was generally a peaceful organization, the latter, pretty violent. Neither one wanted outsiders running their country any longer.
The cast - well-known and not-so well--known, was solid from McQueen on down. I think it was odd to hear Richard Attenborugh with an American accent but he did a nice job with it. Crenna played the most interesting character, in my opinion, as captain hard to figure. As for the supporting actors, Simon Oakland ("Stawski") and Mako ("Po-han") stood out to me.
I'm not going get into the story, as enough reviewers have already done that. Photograhy-wise, it was nice to see most of this shot outdoors, not on some studio lot or sound-stage. I enjoyed all of the shots of the ship, the "San Pablo." Having just bought (7/5/10) the Blu-Ray edition of this film, I'm anxious to see it in this format now. It promises to be a treat.
Overall, a memorable story and highly-recommended.
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