The Sand Pebbles (1966)


“Pray for an early spring… or permission to open fire. ” – Captain Collins

Number of Times Seen – 2 (22 Oct 2000 and 27 Aug 2017)

Brief Synopsis – A sailor stationed in China in the 1920’s quickly learns that the changing ways of the world aren’t always what you might expect.

My Take on it – Steve McQueen has always been one of my favorite actors since I saw him over 30 years ago in The Great Escape (1963).

I saw this film for the first time nearly 17 years ago and instantly loved the way that it was done.

McQueen is amazing in this role because he plays the rebel so well.

The fact that he isn’t in an authoritative position makes this film pretty unique in his filmography.

The fact that director Robert Wise took the time to build up the story and tell us a truly epic tale proves how he know the key to telling a memorable story.

Loved the way that they showed us so much about how the social ladder worked on the ship just by the use of the simple class system because it tells us so much about how and why people acted certain ways at the time.

Ironically, this film came out during the height of the Vietnam War and it can somewhat be seen as an analogy to that war yet instead it proves that the way men and governments act during war is timeless and even nearly a century after this film take place, not much has changed in those matters.

The side story with Candice Bergen’s character works well because it teases both to us and the characters how chance encounters in life can make such a difference to anyone.

The tension in the story is built up slowly and when things eventually come to a head, we aren’t shocked, but expect things to escalate in a gradual fashion as it did previously.

This is my favorite film of 1966!

Bottom Line – One of McQueen’s best roles despite the fact that he really isn’t in a leadership role like usual.  Loved the way that this film takes its time telling us the story in a complete and epic fashion.  The side story with Bergen works because we are teased by it just like the way the main character is tempted to make decisions in life based on his chance meeting. The way they show how the class system on the gunship works helps us understand so much about the social ladder of that time and place. The tension is built up so well as the story moves along.  Loved the way that they portray the action when things come to a head and we get to easily see that not much has changed in the almost century since this film takes place when it comes to rules of battle. By far, the best film IMHO of 1966.  Highly Highly Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – Director Robert Wise was so proud of this film that he held yearly parties with surviving cast members to celebrate it. (From IMDB)

Rating – Oscar Worthy

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7 thoughts on “The Sand Pebbles (1966)

  1. Great film. One of my favorite McQueen performances. His only Oscar nomination. Still devastated by the film’s ending. Have been since I first saw it. I can still remember McQueen’s last line of dialogue to this day.

    Liked by 1 person

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