The Sand Pebbles

The Sand Pebbles

DVD - 2007 | Widescreen
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Tells the stories of the lives of the crewmen aboard the U.S.S. San Pablo, stationed in revolution-torn China in 1926.
Publisher: Beverly Hills, Calif. : Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, 2007
Edition: Widescreen
Branch Call Number: DVD MOVIE SAND
Characteristics: 2 videodiscs (179 min.) : sd., col. ; 4 3/4 in


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⚓️ Local interest: The former USS Tulsa was a gunboat similar to the San Pablo. It was known as "The Galloping Ghost of the South China Coast." McQueen is assigned to the San Pablo and distressed to find that Chinese nationals have been hired to run the ship, while the crew kicks back and takes it easy. Eventually the ship has to run a blockade upriver to rescue idealistic American missionaries. Romance and conflict ensue. A fine, cynical, anti-imperialist war movie, and the ending, although realistic, may not please everyone. This is a three-hour movie and doesn't waste a minute, although probably too long for today's easily bored audiences. McQueen's performance couldn't be better, he could say more with his face and posture than most actors can with ten pages of dialogue. Richard Crenna proves what a fine performer he was with his portrayal of the conflicted captain who nevertheless is going to do his duty. The ship is full of great support, Richard Attenborough, Simon Oakland, and Ford Rainey. Even Candice Bergen outdoes herself.
The BAR McQueen uses in the combat scenes is a large, heavy, fully automatic high-powered .30-06 rifle that's capable of doing industrial strength damage. It's not something a little girl can fire, unlike the AR-15 of recent notoriety. Remember, kids, if your gun jams, run like hell!

Nov 01, 2019

1966 A VERY GOOD adventure historical style movie; excellent acting and situations but I felt the ending fell flat.

Oct 12, 2018

Watching the new "Murphy Brown" remake on TV, I was saddened to see how age has taken its toll on Candice Bergen. It made me think of her when she was young, and I recalled her debut in "The Sand Pebbles," which made me want to watch the movie again. Thank you, JOCO Library for having it available. It was wonderful to see a beautiful young Candice Bergen, naive, unspoiled and not cynical like Murphy.

I remember as a teenager being outraged at the ungrateful Chinese who hated the Americans and wanted them to leave their homeland. Didn't they know we were there to "help" them by developing their resources and labor? Today, after a century of American imperialism and international bullying, many of us have come to question our country's role in the world and see things a little differently.

"The Sand Pebbles" certainly showcases the ugly American attitude and arrogance, and I suppose one could say it's because we are clearly superior and deserving. Now, we're learning it's more likely because of superior technology and powerful corporate interests that threaten and exploit less powerful countries.

50 years later, I realize this movie was about the human cost of imperialism, and well-done it was! Steve McQueen was in his prime, young, handsome, strong and brave. The supporting cast was superb. The scenery, the scope and score were perfect. Still a great movie!

Jul 07, 2018

Nominated for eight Academy Awards including Best Picture, "The Sand Pebbles" is arguably the capstone of director Robert Wise’s career—reportedly his personal favourite. His three-hour epic is a near perfect melding of widescreen drama and personal tragedy with a suitably grandiose soundtrack by Jerry Goldsmith and elaborate sets of old China bustling with coolies and revolutionaries alike (actually filmed in Hong Kong and Taiwan). And Wise keeps the playing field even, for if the natives are restless they have good reason—Western prejudice against the Chinese runs deep while an auction scene at a brothel is still cringeworthy over fifty years later. But the sweep of historical pageantry is overtaken by McQueen, Crenna, and Attenborough, three very different performances which manage to give some perspective to a confusing and tumultuous era. Japanese-American actor Mako received his only Oscar nomination as a shipboard labourer whose innocent zeal gives a racist engineer (McQueen) second thoughts and Attenborough’s timid Chinese love interest is played by Emmanuelle Arsan who, ironically, would go on to pen the softcore "Emmanuelle" franchise. Gripping, disturbing, and ultimately very, very sad.

May 26, 2017

"The Sand Pebbles," starring Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough and Richard Crenna, is an excellent, if slightly slow-moving and over-long film that tells a compelling story of the American navy in China during the 1920s, when the United States was one of the world's foremost practitioners of "gunboat diplomacy." Based on a novel of the same name by Richard McKenna, it was directed by Robert Wise ("West Side Story," "The Sound of Music") and adapted for the screen by Robert Anderson.

Aug 10, 2016

This is a 1966 American war drama directed by Robert Wise, loosely based on the 1962 novel of the same name by Richard McKenna.
It tells the story of Jake Holman (played by Steve McQueen), who is an independent, rebellious U.S. Navy machinist's mate, first class aboard the fictional gunboat USS San Pablo in 1920s China.
It also depicts the era's racism and colonialism on a small scale, through the sailors' relations with the coolies who run their gunboat and the bargirls who serve them off-duty, as well as on a large scale, with the West's gunboat diplomacy domination of China.
Marayat Andriane (later known as a writer of erotic fiction "Emmanuelle" under the nom de plume Emmanuelle Arsan) plays Maily, a Shanghai-bargirl who becomes the wife of Frenchy (played by Richard Attenborough).
After more than 40 years, 20th Century Fox found 14 minutes of footage that had been cut from the film's initial roadshow version shown at New York's Rivoli Theater.
This DVD has this restored version.
The sequences are spread throughout the film and add texture to the story, though they do not alter it in any significant way.
Although it is a long film, it interests you with action-packed exotica and some historical events.

Mar 23, 2015

The Sand Pebbles is among the best movies about China during the early 1900s pre-WWII upheavals, the best Steve McQueen, a potential watcher might choose to watch and certainly remember, watch again a decade or two later, as I've been doing since it was just released. A great movie.

The 196-minute roadshow cut of The SAND PEBBLES (1966) is a treasure. If you ever want a cure for whatever ails you, try sitting down to a Steve McQueen movie, particularly anything he did from THE CINCINNATI KID (1965) to BULLITT (1968). You'll be treated to a view of American masculinity that is long gone. Athletic, laconic, working class, always butting up against the-powers-that-be, the McQueen take on heroism does not exist anymore. Now we favor super-assassins or comic book superheroes.THE SAND PEBBLES, with its story of a U.S. Navy gunboat patrolling the Yangtze River when the Kuomintang took control of China from the warlords in the 1920s, premiered at a time when LBJ's going-all-in commitment to war in Vietnam was starting to arouse significant domestic opposition. THE SAND PEBBLES, for its time, is a surprisingly provocative anti-imperialist statement from a major Hollywood studio (Twentieth Century Fox). The message? Nations traffic in lies and everyday people -- the sailors, the coolies, the whores, the missionaries -- are merely grist for the mill.

Aug 25, 2014

A great man of film, Sir Richard Attenborough, passed away yesterday. He has over 90 listing of movie and Television credits. His role in the "Sand Pebbles" with Steve McQueen is one of his better roles. He plays a shipmate of McQueen on a "U.S. gunboat cruising on China's Yangtze River in 1926. This film has been universally praised by other film critics and here at the KCLS web site two reviews have given it four stars with one of the comments being "A+++" movie. Richard Attenborough and Steve McQueen had already been in the cast of the "Great Escape". Both movies are worth your attention if you haven't seen them. Please leave your reaction to the "Sand Pebbles" here at the KCLS web site. Thanks!!

aaa5756 Dec 06, 2011


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Jake Holman: [Last Lines] I was home. What happened? What the hell happened?

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