The Sand Pebbles

The Sand Pebbles

Robert Wise (1966)

12 Certificate


Our Score
Set on a US gunboat patrolling the Yangtze River in 1926, this blend of action and melodrama was something of a surprise hit in its day, earning itself no fewer than eight Oscar nominations (although it won none). Part of the reason for its success can be found in its thinly veiled apology for American intervention in Vietnam, but there are some more enduring plus points, too. Steve McQueen and Richard Attenborough both turn in pleasing performances and Joseph MacDonald's cinematography is outstanding. The romances are rather contrived but, to director Robert Wise's credit, this long film (which has been released in several versions of varying length) never feels like a slog.


A gunboat engineer patrolling the Yangtze River in 1926 clashes with his captain, gets drawn into conflict with Chinese warlords and strives to rescue a group of missionaries. Action adventure, with Steve McQueen, Candice Bergen, Richard Attenborough, Richard Crenna and Mako.

Cast & Crew

Holman Steve McQueen
Frenchy Richard Attenborough
Shirley Candice Bergen
Collins Richard Crenna
Po-han Mako
Maily Marayat Andriane
Jameson Larry Gates
Ensign Bordelles Charles Robinson
Director Robert Wise
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Other Information

Language: EnglishColourGuidance: Contains violence and swearing.Available on: video and DVD