Sand Pebbles

The Sand Pebbles

4.5 6
Director: Robert Wise, Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough, Richard Crenna

Cast: Robert Wise, Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough, Richard Crenna


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The Sand Pebbles was arguably Robert Wise's greatest movie, and it featured the best performance of Steve McQueen's entire career, in the best script he ever had to work with (which earned him his only Oscar nomination). In contrast to Wise's other movies -- most of which have yet to show up on DVD -- it's also gotten deluxe, almost exalted treatment in the


The Sand Pebbles was arguably Robert Wise's greatest movie, and it featured the best performance of Steve McQueen's entire career, in the best script he ever had to work with (which earned him his only Oscar nomination). In contrast to Wise's other movies -- most of which have yet to show up on DVD -- it's also gotten deluxe, almost exalted treatment in the digital format. The picture quality of this disc puts Fox's fine early-'90s laserdisc (which was twice as expensive) to shame. The colors are deep and rich, the detail excruciatingly fine, and even the night scenes (which look like real night scenes) offer a wealth of detail. The soundtrack (in stereo) is rich and robust as well, and very finely balanced between the intimate and the expansive scenes. The disc also contains a pair of radio documentaries and three radio spots promoting the movie, as well as the theatrical trailer. But the most alluring bonus is the commentary track, which features Robert Wise, Candice Bergen, Mako, and, for reasons not entirely clear, an uncredited Richard Crenna, who accounts for almost as much of the commentary as the director. Alas, one wishes that Wise could have recorded his commentary a decade ago, because he sounds like he is on his last legs -- his memory isn't what it ought to be, and his talk is littered with admissions of his failure to recall the information to which he is alluding. There is some good and interesting material in his talk, but overall his portion of the commentary is an opportunity missed by bad timing; the others prove far more edifying in their recollections. All of these supplements are accessible on a menu that opens up automatically on start-up, with the bonus materials on their own menu frame. The movie, which contains the original overture and intermission music, has been given 36 chapters, which are perfect in their selection and names.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
The Sand Pebbles is a lengthy but engaging mix of romance, historical epic, political commentary, and adventure. Three years after his star-making turn in The Great Escape, Steve McQueen delivers what many consider his most complete performance, as the antisocial crewmember of an American ship docked in China during the civil war of 1926. Though it presents a rather generalized view of imperialism, Sand Pebbles makes obvious parallels between America's presence in China and its presence in Vietnam four decades later. Director Robert Wise struggled to get backing for the film, succeeding only when he agreed to direct the film version of The Sound of Music. It was not a major hit, though its cachet increased when it received eight Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Actor.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
20th Century Fox
Region Code:

Special Features

Anamorphic widescreen [aspect ratio 2.35:1]; Commentary by Robert Wise, Candice Bergen, and Mako; Two radio documentaries; Three radio spots; Theatrical trailer; Still gallery; Audio: English 4.0 Surround, English stereo, French mono; Subtitles: English, Spanish

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Steve McQueen Jake Holman
Richard Attenborough Frenchy Burgoyne
Richard Crenna Lt. Collins
Candice Bergen Shirley Eckert
Marayat Andriane Maily
Mako Po-Han
Larry Gates Jameson
Simon Oakland Stawski
Ford Rainey Harris
Joe Turkel Bronson
Gavin MacLeod Crosley
Richard Loo Maj. Chin
Barney Phillips Chief Franks
Gus Trikonis Restorff
Shepherd Sanders Perna
James Jeter Farren
Tom Middleton Jennings
Tommy Lee Chien
Beulah Quo Mama Chunk
James Hong Victor Shu
Alan Hopkins Wilsey
Gil Perkins Customer
Walter Reed Bidder
Ben Wright Englishman
Stephen Ferry Lamb
Ted Fish CPO Wellbeck
Joe di Reda Shanahan
Loren Janes Coleman
Charles Knox Robinson Ensign Bordelles
Glenn Wilder Waldron

Technical Credits
Robert Wise Director,Producer
Del Acevedo Makeup
Robert Anderson Screenwriter
Jerry Endler Special Effects
Jerry Goldsmith Score Composer
William Kiernan Production Designer,Set Decoration/Design
Boris Leven Production Designer
Joe MacDonald Cinematographer
Lionel Newman Musical Direction/Supervision
Ben Nye Makeup
Renie Costumes/Costume Designer
William H. Reynolds Editor
Walter Scott Production Designer,Set Decoration/Design
John Sturtevant Production Designer,Set Decoration/Design
William Turner Makeup

Scene Index

Side #1 --
0. Chapter Selections
1. Overture [2:13]
2. Main Titles [2:23]
3. China 1926... [1:51]
4. Dinner Conversation [:56]
5. Shirley [3:27]
6. The San Pablo [1:37]
7. Battle Drill [2:28]
8. The Coolie System [3:51]
9. Flag Day [4:57]
10. A Bad Bearing [1:13]
11. Making the Repair [:33]
12. The Whorehouse [5:16]
13. Po-han's Training [:21]
14. Conflicting Stories [1:30]
15. The Fight [3:24]
16. Trouble with the Locals [1:23]
17. The Rescue [6:12]
18. A Mercy Killing [:38]
19. The Jonah [6:26]
20. Entr'acte [1:55]
21. The Strike [4:31]
22. Under Chinese Control [2:09]
23. The Auction [2:41]
24. Make a Wish [1:29]
25. Vows of Love [6:12]
26. State of Siege [1:59]
27. Holman's Trip Ashore [4:09]
28. A Wanted Man [6:05]
29. Near Mutiny [:37]
30. Last Chance [4:37]
31. Commence Firing [3:22]
32. Boarding Party Away [2:00]
33. Stateless Persons [:17]
34. Holman Takes Charge [1:03]
35. What the Hell Happened? [3:15]
36. End Titles [1:04]


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The Sand Pebbles 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
KLBH More than 1 year ago
The setting is breathtaking, the movie is unforgettable! Steve at his best! Got to go Holman!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The melancholy soundtrack sets the tone for this trip into American foreign policy and American character. Friendship (between men, and between man and machine), romantic love, selfless love, patriotism, cowardice, lust, mercy killing, jingoism, idealism, irony, and redemption are all themes touched upon in this engrossing film. It is interesting that its Director, Robert Wise, also directed ''West Side Story'' and ''The Haunting.'' Note that Steve McQueen does his own fighting in the brawl with the Chinese heavies and gets tossed around pretty good. The movie is long, but such quality is worthy of your time. Finally, men and women can both appreciate ''The Sand Pebbles.''
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of my all-time favorite movies. Great story, Great actors, Great musical score.
amateurDS More than 1 year ago
I was moved by the performances and the insight into inter cultural relationships in a tumultuous time for China.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago