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)
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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:
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:

THE STORY OF MEN...men who disturbed the sleeping dragon of China as the world watched in 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

Julie Christie turned down the role of Shirley Eckert. See more »

Goofs

During the battle scene at the blockade, Holman is sent forward on the port (left) side with two men manning a BAR position. When the main battery on San Pablo fires and hits the mast of a junk, a group of men back aft near midships who are part of the boarding party are seen laughing, Holman being one of them. See more »

Quotes

Jake Holman: Hello, Engine; I'm Jake Holman.
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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

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

Soundtracks

Sleepy Time Gal
(uncredited)
Music by Richard A. Whiting and Ange Lorenzo
Lyrics by Ray Egan and Joseph R. Alden
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User Reviews

 
A beautiful film
1 July 2005 | by stpetebeachSee all my reviews

I get tired of hearing how "they don't make them like that any more," but it's hard to imagine THE SAND PEBBLES being made today. If a current movie is three hours long, you can bet it's because the director has fallen in love with himself, not because the material merits it. THE SAND PEBBLES succeeds on just about every level: It is a compelling and complex story; it is beautifully filmed; the acting is mostly excellent; and there is a tremendous score. (Can you imagine a film today having an overture? Rampant adult ADD prohibits it.) The three hours gives you time to get to know the characters, sink into the Chinese setting, and become involved in the story. Just a little thing to notice, right at the start: Watch how McQueen fiddles with his napkin in the formal dining room. He's out of place, and doesn't know what to do with it; it's the kind of physical bit that McQueen does so well to elaborate his character. Credit must also be given to the late Richard Crenna. His captain of the San Pablo is a complex and conflicted character, and Crenna, while carrying off a largely formal role, delivers a very nuanced and moving performance. THE SAND PEBBLES is a movie for grown-ups, largely forgotten today but well worth your time.


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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)
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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 optical prints) (Westrex Recording System)| 4-Track Stereo (35 mm magnetic prints)

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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