The Sand Pebbles 1966 PG-13 CC

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(423) IMDb 7.7/10
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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.

Starring:
Steve McQueen, Candice Bergen
Runtime:
3 hours, 0 minutes

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The Sand Pebbles

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Product Details

Genres Military & War, Drama, Romance, Adventure
Director Robert Wise
Starring Steve McQueen, Candice Bergen
Supporting actors Richard Attenborough, Richard Crenna, Emmanuelle Arsan, Mako, Larry Gates, Charles Robinson, Simon Oakland, Ford Rainey, Joe Turkel, Gavin MacLeod, Joe Di Reda, Richard Loo, Barney Phillips, Gus Trikonis, Shepherd Sanders, James Jeter, Tom Middleton, Paul Chun
Studio 20th Century Fox
MPAA rating PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Rental rights 48 hour viewing period. Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Instant Video (streaming online video and digital download)

Customer Reviews

One of the best movies ever made by Steve McQueen.
Charles Watts
The film also has one of Steve McQueen's best performances as an actor and earned him his only Oscar nomination.
William Riley
This is a beautifully filmed movie with a great story and good acting.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

236 of 246 people found the following review helpful By Reviewer on June 7, 2001
Format: DVD
Steve McQueen was known for many things-- action films, fast cars, motorcycles, a charismatic presence (on screen and off), and his true "tough guy" persona. But with this film, another description moves to the top of that list: Actor. Anyone who doubts what a great actor McQueen was need only watch this film, because his performance here as Jake Holman is simply as good as it gets. "The Sand Pebbles, " directed by Robert Wise, is the story of Holman, a sailor assigned to the U.S. Gunboat, "San Pablo," stationed on the Yangtze River in China in 1926 (the sailors aboard are known as "sand pebbles"). It's primary function is to patrol the river and thereby establish an American presence in China, a country currently experiencing a period of political unrest and impending upheaval. It's a new assignment for Holman, and it suits him just fine; his job is to keep the ship's engines up and running, and because of the size of the ship, he's the only engineer-- it's just Jake and his engine. And that's the way he likes it. Holman is a loner by nature, and something of an iconoclast. At one point, when he is asked his opinion of American Foreign Policy and their presence in China, he simply says, "I don't mess with it. It's all look-see-pidgin, somethin' for the officers."
Eventually, however, Holman is nevertheless drawn into the conflict through a series of events that impact him beyond all personal resistance, the most significant being when American lives are threatened throughout China, and Holman and a landing party are sent ashore to protect and escort some missionaries back to the safety of the San Pablo. But at the mission, Holman discovers a way of life, the likes of which he's never known, and for the first time ever, he realizes a sense of belonging. And he likes it.
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76 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Linda Linguvic HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 25, 2003
Format: DVD
This 1966 film is a big budget adaptation of the 1962 novel by Richard McKenna. Directed by Robert Wise, it gleaned nine academy award nominations. I remember reading the book a very long time ago, and remember it as an adventure story. But by watching this DVD, I see now that it is much more. And I also see how it relates to what is happening in the world today.
The setting is China in 1926. Violent conflicts were everywhere. Warlords were fighting each other, and the Nationalist leader Chang Kai-Shek was gaining power. In addition, the Communists were fighting against the Nationalists. Because the U.S. had interests there, they had a few Navy gunboats going up and down the river. They weren't supposed to do anything - just be a show a force. But the Chinese, from all the different factions, wanted the Americans out. "Go Home Foreigners" was their battle cry. The Americans knew that at any moment an international incident could erupt. Sound familiar?
Steve McQueen, in the best performance of his career, is cast as a Navy machinist on the gunboat, which was nicknamed the "Sand Pebbles". When he joins the crew, he's surprised to discover that the "Coolies" do all the hard work - everything from cooking to cutting hair to running the engine. He opposes this as he wants to run the engine himself, and after some conflict, and an accidental death, he befriends one of the Coolies, and teaches him how to run the boat. Later, there are violent consequences.
There is tension throughout between McQueen and the crew for many reasons. And we soon know who the good guys and the bad guys are. Richard Attenborough plays a good guy. He falls in love with a young Chinese woman in bondage to the local house of pleasure. Another good guy is the Captain of the ship, played by Richard Crenna.
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52 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Barron Laycock HALL OF FAME on July 13, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
The Sand Pebbles is an absolutely terrific movie, which is centered on the pitfalls of involving the military in a culture it simply does not understand. The cinematography of the Asiatic land and seascapes is literally breath-taking, and the movie's script is compelling, multilayered, and tends to keep you guessing as to where this is going and what the consequences may be for the crew of a U.S. gunboat slowly becoming entangled in the internal domestic politics of early 20th century China without understanding the dangerous complexities of the situation.
The cast is stellar, starting with what may have been perhaps the finest and most accomplished acting by Steve McQueen in his long and illustrious career. Here McQueen does more with a series of facial shots than most actors could do with a gunboat full of dialogue. It also includes a very young and beautiful Candace Bergen, a remote and imperious "by the book" and dangerously gung-ho skipper played quite well by Richard Crenna, as well as wonderful performances by Mako, Richard Attenborough, and a number of notable others. All of them add to the progress of the drama, but it is McQueen's reawakening as a person during the progress of the movie that is the centerpiece of its story, as he slowly transforms from a selfish, emotionally remote, and cynical sailor into a person who increasingly recognizes that there things in life worth fighting and even dying for.
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