HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Buddies
Threshold
Perfectly Normal Family, A
Ravage
Honeymoon Phase, The
One Summer
Bird Island
Variety
Devil to Pay, The
Gypsy
Lost in London
Divorce Italian Style
Becky
Salon Kitty
Misbehaviour
Charles, Dead or Alive
Gretel and Hansel
Mademoiselle
Tunnel, The
India Song
Last Rhino, The
Made in Hong Kong
Ring of Spies
Rom Boys: 40 Years of Rad
Pocketful of Miracles
The Tomb: Devil's Revenge
Sidecar Racers
Space Dogs
Out/Marriage
Safety Last!
Bride Who Has Returned from Hell, The
Show Boat
Savage
City Called Dragon, A
I Used to Go Here
Six Suspects
Still the Water
Not Now, Comrade
I'm Thinking of Ending Things
Wives of the Skies
   
 
Newest Articles
A Knock on the Door at 4 O'clock in the Morning: The Strangers on Blu-ray
Wives of the Skies: Honey Lauren Interview
To Catch a Thief: After the Fox on Blu-ray
Tackling the Football Film: The Arsenal Stadium Mystery on Blu-ray
Film Noir's Golden Couple: This Gun for Hire on Blu-ray
The Doctor Who Connection: Invasion on Blu-ray
Hill's Angles: Benny Hill and Who Done It? on Blu-ray
Big Willie Style: Keep It Up Downstairs on Blu-ray
Walt's Vault: 5 Cult Movies on Disney+
Paradise Lost: Walkabout on Blu-ray
Buster Makes Us Feel Good: Buster Keaton - 3 Films (Volume 3) on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 3 - Don't Go Away - I Could Do with a Bit of Cheer Now!
What Use is Grief to a Horse? Equus on Blu-ray
For God's Sake Strap Yourselves Down: Flash Gordon on 4K UHD Collector's Edition
Party Hard: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 2 - Your Faces are All Blurred!
Eve Knew Her Apples: The Lady Eve on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Tempo - Gallery One
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 1 - Welcome Once Again to Manchester!
Transformative Apocalypses: Phase IV and Southland Tales
The Happiest Days of Their Lives: The Guinea Pig on Blu-ray
Faced Poe: Three Edgar Allan Poe Adaptations Starring Bela Lugosi on Blu-ray
Hard Luck, Buster: The Cameraman on Blu-ray
At the Hop: Mr. Vampire on Blu-ray
Divine Madness: Female Trouble on Blu-ray
   
 
  Sand Pebbles, The Gunboat Diplomacy
Year: 1966
Director: Robert Wise
Stars: Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough, Richard Crenna, Candice Bergen, Emmanuelle Arsan, Mako, Larry Gates, Charles Robinson, Simon Oakland, Ford Rainey, Joe Turkel, Gavin McLeod, Joe Di Reda, Richard Loo, Barney Phillips, Gus Trikonis, James Hong
Genre: Drama, WarBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: Jake Holman (Steve McQueen) was a sailor in the U.S. Navy in the mid-nineteen-twenties and had been posted to a variety of ships as an engineer because he was very good at his job, but as the number of jobs he had indicated, he did not always get on with his shipmates too well. He gets off a boat in Shanghai with the orders to give to the latest vessel he is to serve on, the gunboat San Pablo, and makes straight for the boarding house cum bar to stay overnight before he begins, partaking of a drink and disappearing up to his room with a more than willing prostitute. Somehow, the next evening he finds himself in a dining room discussing the Chinese situation with a missionary and two officials, but he's more interested in the daughter (Candice Bergen) sitting across from him...

The fact remains, and this is observed about Holman early on, he is one of those Navy men who simply exist to be told what to do and when to do it, following orders is his lot in life and all he really wants, since anything else would require him to think over what is happening and the reasons the United States has a presence overseas. Arriving when it did, The Sand Pebbles was quickly picked up on as a commentary on the then escalating war in Vietnam, which was perhaps unfortunate when the mood of the nation and indeed the world was turning against American involvement rather vociferously, though given the message here was essentially about the futility of war then it’s not surprising it won a strong cult following among those who appreciated its mature take on the subject.

With all that in mind, the would-be blockbuster was a big gamble for its studio 20th Century Fox seeing as how it was still reeling from the financial disaster of Cleopatra, but a bright ray of hope had been shone by the massive success of The Sound of Music. The director of that was Robert Wise, and he was allowed carte blanche to do whatever he wanted for his next project, which happened to be this difficult proposition that was going to be expensive, there was no way around it. Nevertheless, he stuck to his guns this would be a prestige production that would bring in the punters like his previous hit did, and while it didn't make those profits and won a lukewarm response from the critics, it was able to show the benefits of spending money to make money.

But really only in one area of the market, which was men and boys who liked war epics. Couple that with scenes of heavy machinery pounding away and an air of intelligent musings over the worth of going to battle and international politics, and you had a work with appeal to those who like their epics with a strong degree of thought. It had been based on a novel by Richard McKenna, whose career began in his forties after a life in the navy, but was cut short by a fatal heart attack after only a few published results. The Sand Pebbles did very well in the book charts, based as it was on his experiences in China though he did not live to see the film completed, but one imagines he would be satisfied with what they conjured up, with location shooting in the Far East and a capable cast of interesting faces.

McQueen so embodied his role and its implications that he caught the attention of the Academy and secured his one and only Oscar nomination (Best Actor), and he did hold the centre of the movie for a long three hours as Holman's conscience is awoken. Second billed was Richard Attenborough as kind hearted Frenchy, who seeks to save a young girl from being sold into prostitution, though ironically she was played under an alias by Emmanuelle Arsan, whose sexual adventures had been a scandalous book sensation and would be played by Sylvia Kristel in the movie adaptations. This weighty subplot was all very well, but might have been better combined into Holman's narrative since McQueen's chemistry with nice but dull Bergen was lacking; more valuable was his outsider status among the crew who as the Chinese situation worsens regard him as a Jonah. Though this is more because he is right when almost everyone else is wrong, including the troubled Captain Richard Crenna, McQueen's rebel status well and truly in place. Building to a violent denouement (or two), its questioning of the politics of intervention did not breed any real answers, but it was a substantial meal of a movie nonetheless. Music by Jerry Goldsmith.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 2510 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Robert Wise  (1914 - 2005)

Versatile American director, a former editor (he worked on Citizen Kane) who began with some great B-movies (Curse of the Cat People, The Body Snatcher, Born to Kill) and progressed to blockbusters (West Side Story, The Sound of Music, Star Trek: The Motion Picture). He won Oscars for the two musical successes.

Along the way, there were classics like The Day the Earth Stood Still, exposes like I Want to Live! and spooky gems like The Haunting. Other films include Somebody Up There Likes Me, The Sand Pebbles, Star!, The Andromeda Strain and Audrey Rose. His last film was Rooftops, another musical.

 
Review Comments (3)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Paul Smith
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
  Lee Fiveash
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg
   

 

Last Updated: