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NEW Sand Pebbles (DVD)

4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 28.49 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This film, along with The Great Escape, established Steve McQueen as a major star, but it is much more than a vehicle for McQueen. This is a wonderful story of the intersection between Western culture and Old China, in the period when China was seeking to emerge as a modern nation.
This is the story of one Jake Holman, a sailor in the American gunboat navy in China. The Navy's mission is to protect American/Western missionaries, businessmen, their lives and property. Holman serves on the USS San Pablo, known to her crew as the "Sand Pebble." Holman has a passion for engines, and sought to serve on the Sand Pebble on the notion that his engineering expertise would make him valuable and autonomous aboard. Instead, he learns that each American sailor has a Chinese servant who actually performs all of that sailor's routine duties. Holman is thus effectively prevented from performing his engineering role. Nor are the Chinese, untrained in engineering and acting by wrote, able to safely handle the ship's power plant. An undercurrent to the story is Holman's struggle to get control of the management of the ship's antiquated but essential engines.
Holman's struggles to establish his place on the ship take place against the panorama of a China seeking to throw off foreign domination and become a modern nation-state. This is the larger story, effectively presented in this excellent film.
This film is a reasonably faithful adaptation of the bestselling novel of the same name. The cinamatography is superb, and the DVD appears to be a pretty good transfer from the original film. Recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "Damn your flag, damn all flags!" March 7 2004
Steve McQueen is the classic American loner, as one observer puts it, "As long as he obeys orders the Navy takes care of him, its a life that appeals to a certain kind of man." It is not so much the Navy that appeals to McQueen's character, Jake Holman, as it is the solitude of the ships engine room, where he is the master and commander. Upon arrival on his new ship, the San Paulo, nicknamed the "Sand Pebble", Holman is in for a surprise. In keeping with the traditions of the 1920's South China Seas US Navy, locals have been brought aboard to do all the work, including in the engine room (South China Sea vets say all with this film is accurate save that key point, the engine room would have been off limits in most cases). The world is changing in many ways. Jake tries to keep his personal world from crashing by helping a fellow sailor who has fallen for a local girl, even though he should know better, and by trying to resist his own temptations to a fresh faced young missionary in the person of Candace Bergen. Richard Crenna is excellent as a prima donna Captain who sees Holman as a threat to his system even before he comes aboard. The political world is also in flux. With the Russian Civil War at an end, revolution is spreading to China as Communists and Nationalists both try to wrest China out of the grip of warlords and foreign powers. The acting by even the most bit players is believable in every nuance and there are simply too many stand-out performances to mention, from Simon Oakland's bullying ship-board nemisis to McQueen to Larry Gates as a frustratingly idealistic missionary. From Action to Romance this movie hits the bullseye every time.
This is simply a classic of movie-making regardless of genre, era, or actors. It is top-notch in every respect.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Steve McQueen at his best Aug. 24 2003
The Sand Pebbles is a huge epic of a movie detailing a time in U.S. history that most people prefer to forget. The movie tells the story of the San Pablo, a US gunboat, and its new engineer, Jake Holman. Upon his arrival, Holman upsets the living and working system the crew has with their Chinese coolies. This is just the first of many problems that fall upon the San Pablo. Along the way, the crew must remain their presence as China goes through their revolution. Just the presence of the US gunboat upsets the people. The action scenes, especially the battle with the barricade of junks and the gunbattle in the courtyard are startling and graphic, but very effective. There are plenty of great scenes, especially those between Holman and his new Chinese coolie, Po Han. Their scenes together are great to watch as Holman tries to teach him about how the engine works. This is a great movie that takes its time to get going, but once it does it never slows down.
Steve McQueen fully deserved his nomination for Best Actor for his performance as Jake Holman. He became famous for playing the brooding loner, and this performance is no different. Richard Attenborough is also very good as one of Jake's few allies on the ship, Frenchy Burgoyne. Richard Crenna is excellent as the captain of the San Pablo who refuses to question their orders, no matter how ridiculous they may seem. Candice Bergen is very good in one of her first roles as a missionary working with the Chinese people who befriends Jake. The DVD offers widescreen presentation, theatrical trailers, radio documentaries and spots, and commentary by the director. For an excellent movie with fully believable characters, a great story, and well choreographed action scenes, check out The Sand Pebbles!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this
My love of Steve McQueen had me watching this moovie and was not very pleased have loaned it to my son in law with the waning to please return want to watch it more times
Published 4 months ago by Cherry blair
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent movie
Excellent movie, I would recommend it to anyone. Acting is great, scenery is good. A little long but well worth the time involved.
Published 9 months ago by Margaret McGregor
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome movie
First movie I ever saw in a theatre that had an intermission in the middle of it. Steve McQueen is an awesome actor and he did a super job on this one.
Published 9 months ago by Diane Edwards
5.0 out of 5 stars Steve Mcqueen still the Greatest
Great performance by a truly gifted and troubled man. STEVE MCQUEEN LIVES FOREVER IN OUR HEARTS AND MINDS and the films he made.
Published 15 months ago by Chales V. Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome movie...
I don't care if it's a metaphor for Vietnam because it's a good movie and a good story. The acting is fantastic and the action keeps you going. Read more
Published on Sept. 28 2003 by Ken Bailey
5.0 out of 5 stars McQueen Forever.
I have now got every movie that Steve McQueen made. He was a great talent, as is seen in this movie, and has to be one of his great performances, along with Papillon.
Published on July 12 2003 by Lawrence G Davis
5.0 out of 5 stars Sand Pebbles: Two Wars in One
When THE SAND PEBBLES was released in 1966, it was hailed as a terrific war movie for the usual reasons: strong character development, believable dialogue, horrific battle scenes,... Read more
Published on May 26 2003 by Martin Asiner
3.0 out of 5 stars In retrospect, flawed
As other reviewers have noted, this film is a not-so-thinly-veiled Vietnam allegory. While at the time that might have been impressive, we have no shortage of movies either about... Read more
Published on March 29 2003
2.0 out of 5 stars Dismasted
This is a very earnest and a very poor job by a couple of big talents like McQueen and Wise. The film is so relentlessly downbeat and so completely devoid of humor that it's... Read more
Published on March 1 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars Overrated, but not miscast McQueen
Steve McQueen is not nearly miscast in Sand Pebbles as he is in Papillion. Bergen's youthful naivete is quite refreshing, and Attenborough is well-cast as supporting character... Read more
Published on Feb. 22 2003
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