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NEW Sand Pebbles (DVD)

4.3 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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  • NEW Sand Pebbles (DVD)
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  • 4 Film Favorites: Steve McQueen Collection (Papillon / Bullitt / The Getaway / The Cincinnati Kid)
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Product Details

  • Language: English, French
  • Subtitles: Spanish, French, English
  • Dubbed: French
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B000O78L00
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #58,154 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
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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Format: VHS Tape
The careers of most hollywood actors can usually be summed up by their two best films. For Burt Lancaster they would be "From Here To Eternity," and "The Bird Man of Alcatraz." For Humphrey Bogart they would be "Casablanca" and "The Maltese Falcon." In my opinion "The Sand Pebbles" is one of Steve McQueen's two crowning glories. The other one being "Papillion." They are probably the only two Steve McQueen movies that are really worth watching, and this one is a classic all the way. One of the best epics I've ever seen.
The movie is based on the novel by Richard McKenna. It centers on a salt of the Earth sailor stationed in a gunboat in the backwaters of China in 1926. This marks the beginnings of the civil wars in China, with Communists on one side and Nationalists on the other. The one thing that both sides can agree on is their desire to expell the western powers from China. The gunboat on which McQueen is stationed becomes a symbol of western imperialism by both sides, and the men unfortunate enough to be stationed on it become pawns in a chess game of propaganda.
The movie is an epic drama depicting a simple minded and ambitionless 'black gang' sailor from Ohio who joined the navy to excape reform school, and ends up being caught in the middle of the Chinese cultural revolution. Steve McQueen gives a brilliant performance as an unassuming 'squid' who is only interested in engines, beer, and girls. His simplicity makes him the virtuous and classical hero of this epic, since he is too simple to have any interest in the political games that he has been thrown into through no fault of his own.
Candice Bergen appears briefly in the film, playing the part of a missionarys daughter who takes a shine to McQueen.
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Format: DVD
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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