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The Sand Pebbles [DVD]

4.6 out of 5 stars 93 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Steve McQueen, Richard Crenna, Richard Attenborough, Candice Bergen, Mako
  • Directors: Robert Wise
  • Producers: Robert Wise
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: 18 April 2005
  • Run Time: 174 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007RUSM6
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 67,310 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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Product description

Product Description

Steve McQueen and Richard Crenna star in this classic war drama. In China, 1926, the US gunboat San Pablo cruises the Yangtze river on a peacekeeping mission. New crew member Jake Holman (McQueen) causes friction when he insists upon looking after the San Pablo's engines himself, rather than leaving the hard labour to the Chinese helpers. Holman ruffles more feathers when he falls in love with an American missionary (Candice Bergen), and as the political climate becomes more and more volatile, he begins to question the validity of the American presence on the river.

From Amazon.co.uk

Director Robert Wise chose to film Robert McKenna's award-winning novel The Sand Pebbles as his follow-up to the success of The Sound of Music. Shot in Taiwan and Hong Kong, the film combines historical sweep and intimate human drama in several parallel stories, all revolving around US Navy machinist's mate Jake Holman (Steve McQueen), a skilful but fiercely independent sailor who joins the "sand pebble" crew of the USS San Pablo, a Navy gunboat patrolling the Yangtze River on the eve of the Chinese revolution in 1926. The San Pablo's inexperienced captain (Richard Crenna) obsessively defends the Navy's mission-however unnecessary or unwanted--to protect American missionaries and businessmen, blind to the more dangerous implications of American involvement with China's opposing political factions.

Holman is a defiant voice of humanity in this clash between outmoded values and inevitable change; his final line of dialogue ("What the hell happened?") is a tragic summation of misguided policy, expressing the film's criticism of the Vietnam War. Rather than preach, however, Wise lets McKenna's potent drama emerge from finely drawn relationships: between Holman and a young American teacher (19-year-old Candice Bergen, in her second film); between Holman and the Chinese "coolie" (Mako), whose heart-breaking fate transcends all issues of racial or political difference; and between crewmate "Frenchy" Burgoyne (Richard Attenborough) and the Chinese woman he's sworn to love and protect at all costs. Combined with the film's colourful supporting cast, adventurous scope, and climactic battle scenes, these personal dynamics bring substance and spirit to a complex story of good intentions gone awry. --Jeff Shannon, Amazon.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Trevor Willsmer HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 27 Nov. 2007
Format: DVD
The Sand Pebbles, Robert Wise's epic tale of gunboat diplomacy in the turbulent China of the mid-Twenties is hugely ambitious and hugely expensive, yet, as with the best of his work, the focus is firmly on people, the momentous political events kept in the background until their consequences begin to overwhelm the principals. Even then, they are only drawn out of the small worlds they create for themselves (for Steve McQueen his engine room, for Candice Bergen her teaching in a remote mission) for purely personal reasons.

More than any epic of the Sixties, The Sand Pebbles seems to draw heavily on the chaos and the confusion of the then ongoing Vietnam War, so it's a real surprise that Wise seemed genuinely unaware of any parallels. Yet, perhaps because of history's tendency to repeat itself, they're all too apparent in the finished film. The enemy is unclear: one minute it is the communists who are trying to incite an incident, the next Chang Kai Shek's Nationalists (although filmed in Taiwan with his approval, it is surprisingly critical of his actions). The only constant is "Yankee go home."

McQueen's engineer Holman is pointedly referred to as a symbol of his country by his ineffectual commanding officer, but what kind? He holds no opinions, preferring to put his faith in machinery rather than people or politics, yet his mere presence is divisive. Even his own countrymen and crewmates turn against him and join in with their nominal enemies in an angry demonstration against his alleged crimes.
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Great story with Steve McQeen at his best and an outstanding supporting cast
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Yeah, Great movie. It was always a treat to see a McQueen movie!
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Great man himself Steve McQueen stars as US naval engineer on a gunboat during the Chinese uprising. A great movie.
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gooddelivery
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Perfect
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A truly great film, great acting and excellently directed.
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Format: DVD
China 1926...

Ravaged from within by corrupt warlords...oppressed from without by the great world powers who had beaten China to her knees a century before...

China...a country of factions trying to unite to become a nation...through revolution.....

The Sand Pebbles is a multi stranded panoramic story. It tells of China lifting itself off her knees, and of the Americans who were caught in the giant's bloody rousing. It tells of crewmen Frenchy {Richard Attenborough} & Jake Holman {Steve McQueen} from the U.S.S. San Pablo, two men whose lives are to be severely altered here on the banks of the Yangtze River. It tells of the San Pablo's Captain Collins {Richard Crenna} as he tries to negotiate tricky political waters. And also of the missionaries {Larry Gates & Candice Bergen} who in turn are resentful and bewildered by the US involvement in China. All molded together brilliantly by Robert Wise in this stirring drama that's flecked with romance and explosive action.

Tho the film has undertaken a number of edits since its original release {ranging from 170 minutes to 195}, in any form the piece proves to be a lesson in character involvement. Adapted by Robert Anderson from the novel written by Richard McKenna, the film unfolds precision like, its intensity bubbling away until we reach the highly emotive conclusion. The film has often been placed as a parallel to the Vietnam conflict, something that is in truth hard to ignore. The Sand Pebbles shows the Americans meddling in affairs they don't understand. They act arrogantly towards the Chinese, they dismiss them and call them derogatory names. To them, the Chinese are an inferior race.
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