The Sand Pebbles Movie Message Board (1998)

(Although individual responses are not listed here, I do answer all email I receive)

Subject: What a surprise...
Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 13:13:32 -0800 (PST)
From: Chauvel David
To: Crispin Garcia


During a consultation of the website, Internet Movie Data Base, I found your site. What a surprise & joyful I was because "Sand Pebbles" is my favourite movie. I cannot explain this. Maybe because this is the 1st movie that I can remind from my childhood. Each time I watch it, each time it catch me and his "magical" side too. It's always wonderful to watch it again. Hence when I saw your site : waohh. Pictures, posters of the original movie ; I'm a French borned in 1973 then I never saw it on cinema or in original version. I think that's it's fascinating to feel that people in the world have the same feeling than you for the same movie. Maybe it's comprehensible for a movie like "Titanic" but for a movie like Sand Pebbles, it's different. In fact this is strange for a French, because I don't know if this movie was a success in cinema, but on TV it always has an large audience. It's maybe a classical of French TV. Every 3,4 years, we have a diffusion.

What I love in this movie it's it has some strong scenes which always taking my breath : the Pohan's death, the finale attack on the river, the Holman's death,etc... . I appreciate the symbols as this American flag surrounded with black smoke or make a parallel with the history of the movie & situation of the USA in Southeast Asia. I always wonder if it's a patriotic movie or not. Only Wise has the answer. But in the movie we have some keywords given by 2 characters : * Richard Crenna which is serving his countryland represents this patriotic side. Always fidel to his country and never betraying orders or American values. Except at the end, when he decided to rescue "pilgrims" ( sorry I haven't got the exact terms & there's a long time since I haven't write in english). * On the other hand, the boss of Light of China is the good example of someone which isn't patriotic since he has no homeland. I love the sentence when he said approximately : " Bloody hell to a flag. Go to hell all the flags of the entire world".

In fact, to my mind, Wise loves his country. But he is impartial with it. He judged it with his good sides but with his part of shadow too. Wise is very modern to actuals realisators or 90's movies. Here in Europe, we are borrowed with American patriotism in movies. I recognize that we can be proud of our own country but exaltation I wonder why. Yesterday I watched "Independence Day". This is a good movie but seeing president on his plane saving the world, I'm sorry but this is ridiculous. Imaging President Chirac saving France on a Fighter would be considered as a comedy.

For ending, thank you sincerely for your site. I'm very respectful for your work.

All my consideration.

Chauvel David
Le bas boussard
35830 Betton

Subject: Sand Pebbles
Date: Mon, 16 Nov 1998 17:57:21 PST
From: "David W."
To: Crispin Garcia


Thanks for your work in putting together a wonderful site!

I saw "The Sand Pebbles" in junior high in 1966 in L.A. and was absolutely mesmerized by it, as if I lived it out during my viewing of it. In 1971-2 I was a draftee doing a tour of duty in Vietnam and in '76-'77 I worked with the Iranian Air Force in Iran, and in the 1980s spent five years in Asia as an expatriate businessman...and in all of those situations, "The Sand Pebbles" would often come to mind with respect to the experience of being an American living overeseas. "The Sand Pebbles" is my second favorite McQueen movie, "The Great Escape" being the first.

David Weber

Subject: The Sand Pebbles
Date: Sat, 14 Nov 1998 19:49:52 +0100
From: Michael Brunnbauer
To: Crispin Garcia


I found your site while searching the net for informations on my favourite movie-epics - and of course TSP is one of them. I don't know whether or not anyone has already reported on that:

The 174min european PAL video is pretty much the same as a 182min NTSC video or movie print - simply for the fact that with our PAL video system they run movies at 25 frames per second instead of the original 24... (they do NOT interpolate the 25th frame)

This results in a slightly shorter running time and a slightly higher pitched sound...

182min / 25 * 24 = 174,7min

So I assume, this uk-tape is the standard version, not a even more shortened one..(funny, there seems to be not a single epic-pic that was not shortened at one time or another..)

Thanx for this great page,
Wish u all the best,


Subject: Sand Pebbles web site
Date: Mon, 9 Nov 1998 21:21:53 EST
From: Micmerritt
To: Crispin Garcia

I am also a great fan of this neglected epic and I happened upon the web site by accident while searching for info about Jerry Goldsmith. I went to the Oct. 4th Carnegie Hall concert and Jerry conducted an adaptation of the overture from the film. It was wonderful to hear that music played in concert. Was Alex North originally hired to do the score, but got sick and Lionel Newman assigned Jerry to do the score? I have lots of questions about the making of this film. Here's an observation: was this the first 20th Century-Fox release that was shot in 70mm Panavision? Remember, in the early 1950's Fox made a commitment to the CinemaScope process, and many directors and cameramen complained about the crude Bausch and Lomb anamorphic lenses, and Panavision developed their own anamorphic process at rival MGM in the mid 50's as well. So by the early 60's all the studios switched to Panavision as the superior anamorphic system, leaving Fox stuck with an outdated process. They used Todd-AO on the big roadshow musicals like Sound of Music, but I would like to know if Wise and DP Joe McDonald insisted on using Panavision. Also, what was the possibility of George Peppard playing Jake Holman and McQueen playing the German air ace in The Blue Max, another Fox epic of that year with another incredible Goldsmith score?


Subject: Re: Restoration of The SandPebbles
Date: Sun, 25 Oct 1998 15:58:48 EST
From: PR818
To: Crispin Garcia

About 2 years ago the then President of Fox video while travelling around the country on a laser roadshow answered my question about The SandPebbles and stated that Fox video was thinking about restoring the film to the 201 minute version. The actual running time listings in the original reviews range from 192 min to 196 min. Perhaps the differences can be attributed to the overture and intermission music. In any case...the film as originally shown didn't 'jump' and have as major choppy scene endings. With all the restoration work going on in Hollywood, you would think that Fox and director Wise would seriously look into 'fine' tuning this epic film. Has anyone contacted Fox or Wise ? Two other questions....1. with the Roadshow release...which version of the Jerry Goldsmith overture played? The LP or the current laser disc/CD version? and 2. what aspect ratio was it originally shown in? Regular 2:35 Panavision(remember it more like 2:55) or 70mm?


Subject: Restoration of The Sand Pebbles
Date: Thu, 22 Oct 1998 22:48:23 EDT
From: PR818
To: Crispin Garcia

Came across your website..very interesting and good!. The original Roadshow Version at 196 minutes plus intermission plays much better than the 'cut' 182 minute version. I believe that Fox Video does indeed have the elements to restore the film and almost did so about 2 years ago..They worked on The Bible laser instead. Perhaps that friend of Robert Wise can get Mr. Wise to 'request' Fox to restore his tremendous achievement to the way it was originally shown...


Subject: Hello...
Date: Sun, 18 Oct 1998 00:03:46 EDT
From: Mcgraw1419
To: Crispin Garcia

To Whom It May Concern:

I am a friend of Mr. Robert Wise and I'm very glad to see that you have thoughtfully recognized one of his greatest films, The Sand Pebbles. Mr. Wise does not use the internet so I speak for him when I say thank you very much.

My name is Jeremy L. Vandow and it is very important to me to see the work of Robert Wise recognized. I'm sure you heard that he was presented with the American Film Institute Life Achievement Award for 1998, the highest honor for a career in film. It was something long overdue. This is a man who edited Citizen Kane, hailed as the greatest American film of all time. It is currently in the movie theaters and I urge you to see it on the big screen if you haven't had the pleasure yet to do so. I will continue to enjoy your tribute as I hope the world will too.

Jeremy L. Vandow


Hello Mr. Vandow,

Thank you for your email and kind remarks.

The Sand Pebbles website was launched in January of this year. It consistently averages 80-100 visitors per week and it seems that just about every country in the world with internet capability has visited the site. It is very popular with Navy (or any military) people and also with a broad cross-section of film enthusiasts. There are many visitors from colleges and universities which I find quite gratifying since the site is intended to inform as well as entertain.

Many of the letters in "The Sand Pebbles Movie Forum" express a deep appreciation for the film. They also show how the movie affected some of their lives and the paths they took. Because of my interaction with these fans and the sharing of information I have learned many things.

As you mentioned the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award to Mr. Wise was richly deserved and long overdue. His filmography and personal history are impressive and I was glad that the AFI website developed a tribute to his films, something that was sorely lacking on the internet. It is somewhat of a coincidence that The Sand Pebbles and AFI Robert Wise websites both went up within a few weeks of each other.

I first saw The Sand Pebbles after returning from Vietnam in 1967 but had read the book a few years earlier. I was immediately touched by the film and have never forgotten it during the intervening 30+ years. How could one? It is a true epic motion picture which only gets better with time.

I have seen the restored versions of Lawrence of Arabia and Spartacus on the big screen and it is my hope that someday The Sand Pebbles will also be restored to its original splendor and running time (3 hours and 16 minutes).

Please convey my thanks to Mr. Wise for all of the wonderful motion pictures he has created or has helped to create during his career. The Sand Pebbles will remain my personal favorite.

Crispin Garcia

Subject: Sand pebbles page
Date: Thu, 08 Oct 1998 16:38:00 -0500
From: SSC
To: Crispin Garcia

Dear Mr. Garcia:

Thanks for your site. I found 2 letters my brother, Kevin Laman, posted. I've had not heard from him for some time. Keep it up. I'm watching the film this week again for the 50th time I think.

Mike Laman


Subject: Sand Pebbles
Date: Thu, 10 Sep 1998 10:52:18 -0700
From: alyse
To: Crispin Garcia

I want to commend you on a fine website for this classic and often overlooked film.

I also run a Steve McQueen tribute site- I put a link to your page on mine. Keep up the fine work,
Alyse Pozzo


Subject: "and We Were Lovers midi"
Date: Thu, 20 Aug 98 09:06:33 PDT
From: "Gary Lentz"
To: Crispin Garcia

Hello again,

I requested a copy of "and We Were Lovers" on the alt.sounds.midi newsgroup for over a month. Finally, a fellow sent me a copy. I am attaching it for your use.

I also picked up a copy of the newly re-released CD of the original movie score performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Its very good...if you don't have it you might want to get it.

Thanks again for keeping up such a great site.


Subject: Your Sand Pebbles Web Site
Date: Mon, 10 Aug 1998 15:38:47 +0700
From: "Jimmys Lighthouse"
To: Crispin Garcia

Dear Garcia,

What a Web page! I really like it and that movie The Sand Pebbles was the reason for me now living here in South East Asia for the last 26 years. When I saw the movie as a young man the only thing I could think about was coming over here to the Far East. I have worked in Singapore, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Thailand for that whole time on ships and boats. Steve Mcqueen was my inspiration to leave the States and come over here when I was only 20 years old. I still have a video tape of the movie and play it at least once a year. I love your good choice of photos but one of the best scenes in the movie is when Steve is explaining how the steam engine works in the engine room with the coolie. Live steeem, dead steeem, live steeem satop walve.

Good work, you made my day, others can see in that movie what I saw.
Kind regards,

James Pearson, Phuket, Thailand


Subject: Aye Aye Sir!
Date: Wed, 05 Aug 1998 02:23:18 PDT
From: "A s"
To: Crispin Garcia

Dear Sir, thank you very much for the Sand Pebbles site, I am a 16 year old who saw the SP for the first time earlier this year on TNT, and ever since have been searching all over for a Sand Pebbles site. At long last I have found you, and what a relief it is to know that I'm not the only one who thinks that the Sand Pebbles is the most incredible, fantastic, great, magnificent, wonderful, marvellous etc. film ever!

I can't believe that it wasn't on the AFI's greatest 100 list, which goes to show you that they are a bunch of phonies, but who cares what they think.

It's unlike a lot of films that I have seen recently it actually touched my heart and I was just numbed, in awe of it. Of it all.

In the beginning I thought that it would be 'just another war film' but it surpassed all of my expectations and I know it sounds crazy, but it is the only war film, apart from Casablanca, which I reckon is more of a romance, that I would ever recommend. The last scene is particularly potent, and I am a very passionate believer in the ethics of this film, that we should all question such wars and fighting, and that we should always be tolerant of others no matter what colour they are.

Thanks so much for this chance to let it all out, my friends have never heard of the film before, let alone seen it, so it is great to be able to praise this film and actually know that I will be understood.


Subject: The Sand Pebbles novel
Date: Tue, 4 Aug 1998 19:43:52 -0400
To: "Crispin Garcia"


I am currently reading the novel by Richard McKenna. I picked it up from a library that was tossing out old books last year. This book caught my eye as I enjoyed Steve McQueen in the movie. I am about a third of the way through it right now. I am glad I came upon your website. The maps and other pages will give me a clearer insight about the area in China where the novel is set. Thanks for developing this site!

Mike Awe Colby_Awe


Subject: Sand Pebble Forum
Date: Fri, 17 Jul 98 08:59:29 PDT
From: "Gary Lentz"
To: Crispin Garcia

Hi CG,

I came across your excellent web site just recently. After reading the numerous letters above I just wanted to add my compliments as well. If ever a movie influenced my life it was this one.

I joined the US Coast Guard shortly after the movie came out. One of my first assignments was on a steam cutter in NY. Our ferry from Governor's Island to Manhattan was an old steam reciprocating one and I often made the short crossing by visiting with the engine room crew....both of them. The memories it evoked were much like the ones filmed in the movie. There is still a certain charm to those old leaky, noisy, pounding engines.

For what its worth my son is now a big fan of the movie, too. He looks a lot like Steve McQueen and even has a bit of his attitude. Life is certainly odd.

Thanks again for your care and effort in producing the web page. I really appreciate it.

Gary Lentz

Subject: The Sand Pebbles
Date: Sun, 12 Jul 1998 12:14:10 EDT
To: Crispin Garcia

I am retired from the Navy many years now and a long time fan of this movie and of Steve McQueen. Your site is outstanding, the time and effort you put into this project had to be tremendous. Thanks for a really interesting place to visit on the net.

Bob Doerler

Date: Mon, 15 Jun 1998 06:35:47 -0700 (PDT)
To: Crispin Garcia

I guess I also didn't make myself clear re: Vietnam - this was very much an anti-Vietnam film. When I say it wasn't about what it seemed to be about, I mean to say it wasn't about the conflict in China in 1926 at all - it was very much a negative comment on our involvement in what was referred to on the nighly news as South East Asia. As if to further illustrate this point, when I went to a screening of THE SOUND OF MUSIC in 1993 that Mr. Wise attended, I spoke with an elderly gentleman who said "Do you know about his film THE SAND PEBBLES?" and he proceeded to tell me how when he and his brother (who was in the military and serving in Vietnam) first saw it in 1966 they walked out because they got the message and deemed it anti-American.

Bergen is clunky, yes, but very charming and seems to be in awe of McQueen, which works marvelously well for her character. The scene in the row boat where he talks about his past is beautifully played, and the lonely shot of him throwing stones on the elephant right before they sound the horn for him to return to the ship always makes me choke up, perhaps because it comes after Frenchie's wedding and Shirley has just more or less proposed to Jake and he turns her down but he's throwing stones wishing things were different.

Another film made at this time, HAWAII, had a similar way of delivering the message - the destruction of one civilization by another. Movies like that - produced and presented on such a grand scale - really made going to the movies "an event" and I will never forget the thrill of seeing Mr. Wise's THE SOUND OF MUSIC on the big screen at a reserved seat engagement where they sold programs for $1.00 (which I still have, autographed by Wise, Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer). I'm sure there was a program for THE SAND PEBBLES also, but I haven't located it yet. It's a shame that road show fad died out (ironically, Wise's STAR!, which I also love, helped kill it) because those movies were really special. (I remember tickets for SOM, which we had to mail away for, cost a whopping $3.00!!!) I love talking about this movie and these movies and any movies - I am so glad someone else loves THE SAND PEBBLES. What I noticed last time is when they take the gun from Jake after he has shot Pohan and throw it overboard, the cut to a close shot but you still hear the SPLASH when the gun hits the water. Great film making! Write soon, and thanks!


Date: Fri, 12 Jun 1998 10:07:15 -0700 (PDT)
To: Crispin Garcia

This is without a doubt one of my all-time favorite films. I can (and do) watch it anytime. Each time I see it I watch it for something different - the excellent editing (a trademark in all Robert Wise films), the sound effects, the beautiful music, the great story, the early, clunky but charming performance by Candice Bergen, and I always marvel at how it isn't about what it seems to be about. I am of course referring to the Vietnam parallels. Worked with Gavin MacLeod last year and he had many great SAND PEBBLES and Robert Wise stories. Wise is, in my opinion, one of the greatest directors ever, yet he's rarely mentioned in the same breath with, say, Hitchcock, Preminger or Hawks. Just look at the W-I-D-E range of his work, particularly at this time - WEST SIDE STORY, into a play adaptation TWO FOR THE SEESAW, a wonderful scare flick THE HAUNTING, THE SOUND OF MUSIC, THE SAND PEBBLES, and, yes, STAR! a much-maligned and overlooked film that shows both film maker and leading lady at the peak of their powers. Met with Wise on the set of ROOFTOPS - a wonderful, kind, generous, thoughtful man who answers his fan mail and remembered me when we met again five years later!


Subject: Sand Pebbles
Date: Tue, 9 Jun 1998 23:59:24 EDT
From: AndreiIB
To: Crispin Garcia

I love your website! I recently saw the movie again on AMC and fell in love with it. It is one of those truly beautiful movies that are all too rare anymore. Anyway, I immediately rushed out and bought the video and then searched the net in vain for any related links to it. I stumbled across your site pretty much by accident. Keep up the good work!


Subject: Re: Sand Pebbles...
Date: Wed, 13 May 1998 22:10:17 EDT
From: NovaScot
To: Crispin Garcia

Hi Chris,
Yes, though I don't think it wasn't related to what we were doing, we heard reports that the Khmer Rouge had constructed a rope boom across the Cambodian part of the Mekong about the time of our involvement in the operation.

I was stationed aboard the USS Harold E Holt (DE 1074) during the operation. We "recaptured" the deserted Mayaguez and towed it to international waters. We returned later that night to help in rescue attempts being made to locate missing Marines left behind at the close of the operation.

During the operation I was manning an M-60 on the after-bridge deck very much like Jake Holman was assigned to a B.A.R. during the river-boom scene. At one point during the operation I moved the barrel of my weapon to rest it on a railing as we approached the Mayaguez and it made exactly the same clunk-clunk that McQueen's prop did in the similar movie-moment which inspired an eerie flashback to something that hadn't actually occurred to me. Life imitates art. Bizarre, huh?

As we approached the area where the Mayaguez had been taken, our ship's captain gave a speech over the ship's address system that was almost as vague but gung-ho as Crenna's vague but gung-ho speech to the crew on the fantail of the San Pablo. I felt as though I was trapped in a Twilight Zone episode for a while there.

Edgar Bergen's "cameo" in TSP came when Mr. Bordelles and his landing party were greeted by, I think it was the American ambassador, his voice was dubbed by Bergen! It almost sounded as though Bergen was doing Charlie McCarthy, though the actor playing the ambassador didn't look like a dummy.

Yes, that was my question to Goldsmith about requesting an anecdote about doing TSP. That evening talking on-line to him was pretty special. I also asked him why another score of his, the one for Tora, Tora, Tora was never released on record/tape. He said the distribution was up to the studio, not him. Pity, it was a haunting score.

Just last night I located on the internet. They can shoot me a copy of the script for $18.50, not a bad price. Thanks for asking around, though.

The poster I have is roughly 80X40, a "three-sheet" or what the Scottish branch of the family would call friggin' huge! McQueens's pose has him holding the B.A.R. at a 45-degree angle. The caption below him says, "THIS IS THE HEROIC STORY OF THE MEN ON THE U.S.S. SAN PABLO WHO DISTURBED THE SLEEPING DRAGON OF SAVAGE CHINA AS THE THREATENED WORLD WATCHED IN BREATHLESS TERROR". Below that is the ship silhouettes and credits. We'll be moving out of state soon and I've already claimed an entire wall for the poster in our new house.

Well, that's enough waffling on for one evening, you certainly do have my permission to paste these comments into your forum. I'd consider it an honor to be a part of your site. Thanks for askin'

Later . . .
John J. Hamrin, aka J.J.

Subject: No Subject
Date: Tue, 12 May 1998 07:01:22 EDT
From: NovaScot
To: Crispin Garcia

My name is John and I've been a fan of the movie since I first saw it in '67. Years later I went through an experience somewhat similar to the river boom sequence from the movie while I was in Cambodia at the end of the Vietnam war (ever hear of the Mayaguez Incident?). I just recently purchased a Sand Pebbles movie poster (the really big one) from a local collector, it's gorgeous! Were you able to talk to Jerry Goldsmith when he was in an on-line chat room a year or two ago? I was able to get a question in about his participation in the Sand Pebbles project. If your interested I can send along his response.

Anyway, nice, sharp website. Oh, and, do you have any contacts that can locate a copy of the script? The usual script outlets don't seem to carry it.

Thanks from a fellow Pebbles-fan,
- jjh

Subject: Web Page
Date: Sun, 12 Apr 1998 16:35:40 -0700 (PDT)
From: Steven Dong
To: Crispin Garcia

I just ran into your web page on The Sand Pebbles. Great page, I really enjoyed it!

It's been one of my favorite movies for a long time too.

Subject: Sure
Date: Mon, 06 Apr 1998 07:06:24 PDT
From: Kevin Laman
To: Crispin Garcia

Hi Crispin

Sure please use my comments if you want. Yes I have the same two posters. I can't seem to find anything different. I tried here in Japan, but they throw away everything....the only other one I saw was in Spanish....but I keep looking. My friend's brother went to the original movie and has an original brochure, but won't sell it to me...not yet anyway...rats!!!

I was reading about the author and he was in the USN for 22 years before retiring and going back to school. So he was pretty factual in the times/background information.

I want to go back to Shanghai this June/July to meet a girl I have been talking with on internet. They really screwed up that city. When I visited before the old French Quarter was still pretty much unchanged...same with the grand old homes...but that's gone now..just new buildings etc...there is a really interesting library there though...still have a lot of old books from the twenties...the commies did not burn everything...the famous old jazz musicians were still playing jazz at the Peace Hotel....the "Bund" was unchanged...and very little crime...but that's gone now thing about Chinese...they move fast....

You know there are a bunch of us "squids" that have spent most of our time in Asia. We just never leave until recently nobody cared. But now we got to retire etc...rats!! Such a fun place!!!!

Well best of luck with your site!!!!!


Subject: Great Site!!!
Date: Sat, 04 Apr 1998 05:59:26 PST
From: Kevin Laman
To: Crispin Garcia

Mr. Garcia,

Here I was thinking that I was the only one who loved that movie!!. Saw it for the first time back in the early seventies, loved it ever since. I finally found the same two posters a few years ago and they are on my wall in my BEQ room here in Japan. I have been in for over twenty now (USN) and one of my dreams when I joined back in 76 was to go to Shanghai before I got out. Did it back in 89 !! I was on the Uss Blue Ridge LCC19 when pulled in to Shanghai after cruising up the Yantzeg (spelling) river...docked at an really old we went in our dress whites...roaming the back streets...of course we were not suppose to...but sailors!!!... Had a few beers with some old chinese guys in a back alley bar....really great!! I asked the old guys what they place was like before the commies took over...they just laughed!!!..I was dating a beautiful chinese girl I met in a bar there for about two years...should have married her..but got cold feet...stupid squid!!! .The place was pretty much unchanged back in 89..same streets from the 40' cars etc...really cool.

The Sand Pebbles was one of the best movies ever made!!!

Great site...thanks!!

RMCS Kevin P. Laman

Subject: Re: Link to your page...
Date: Tue, 31 Mar 1998 21:54:52 -0800 (PST)
From: Chris L.
To: Crispin Garcia

Dear Crispin,
I really liked your page! The Sand Pebbles happens to be my favorite movie so it would be great if you put a link to my page on your site. Finally someone has put out some information on that amazing movie.

Take Care,
Chris L.

Subject: Re: Sand Pebbles Site
Date: Fri, 27 Mar 1998 21:31:15 -0500
From: Mike Leonard
To: Crispin Garcia

Thanks to your site I just picked up the CD soundtrack at Borders. Look forward to listening to it.

I'm also an avid ship modeler and long ago gave up trying to find something even close to looking like 'San Pablo'. However, there is supposed to be a decent-sized kit of the Panay out this year. I'll grab that one in a heartbeat. There is a large model in the Washington Navy Yard museum, along with some Panay memorabilia, as a reference.

The model will look good displayed next to my color print of the Tutuila (by Tom Freeman).


Subject: Sand Pebbles Site
Date: Thu, 26 Mar 1998 20:22:41 -0500
From: Mike Leonard
To: Crispin Garcia

It's terrific! A favorite film of mine since I saw it as a kid, and it instilled a long interest in the Yangtze gunboats and the Asiatic Fleet as a whole. When I was in the Navy I remember we had a copy of it onboard and it was a perennial favorite on the mess decks. It was definitely a movie that sailors could relate to.


Date: Sat, 28 Feb 1998 21:50:16 -0600
From: Tom Pierett
To: Crispin Garcia

Mr. Garcia:
Did you know that Paul Newman was originally offered the role of Jake Holman? According to Marshall Terrell's "Steve McQueen-Portrait of a Rebel" that's who had a shot at it first.

According to a friend of mine here in Houston, some shots that were left on the cutting room floor were shot here in Houston. What? What is there in Houston that would be related to the Sand Pebbles? According to my pal, who was a newscaster on radio here in the late 60's, film was shot on the Battleship Texas which is moored fifteen miles east of Houston. The ship is similar to the USS ARIZONA and other ships of that period. If I remember the book correctly, Holman was going to the San Pablo from the Asiatic flagship or some other capital ship. According to my buddy that would have been the opening scene in the movie but was left out. Let me investigate this further before you might add it to your site.

You also might check out this book if you haven't already. "The Complete Films of Steve McQueen" by Casey St. Charenz. Inside are a number of black and white pics from the movie. Also there is one that could go with your site. It was taken at the premier of the movie. It has the Mr. and Mrs. Robert Wise standing next to Mr. and Mrs. Steve McQueen behind a facsimile of a ship rail with a life ring with USS SAN PABLO painted on it. The premier was at the Rivoli Theater in New York on December 20, 1966.

Later.....Tom Pierett

Date: Thu, 26 Feb 1998 19:28:06 -0600
From: Tom Pierett
To: Crispin Garcia

Mr. Garcia:
Thanks so much for a really great web site about one of the greatest movies Hollywood ever made. "The Sand Pebbles" never received the accolades that it deserved. It is a four star movie is there ever was one. The term 'epic' is has become often trite but in describing this movie it is about the only one that fits. I saw the movie on a frigid night in February 1967 in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio at a now demolished movie palace. I had not read the book although I recalled seeing excerpts printed in the "Saturday Evening Post" in the early 60's. I wasn't ready for Holman to die at the end. I was eighteen and still expecting a movie to have a happy ending. I recall leaving the theater in a very depressed condition.

I purchased the soundtrack. I still have it and often listen to it. I finally got around to reading the book three or four years ago. My teenage son read it when I got done with it. I have a copy of the movie that I taped from a movie channel. When I watch it I find it hard to realize that a third of a century has passed since it was filmed.

I have a couple of Steve McQueen connections, indirectly. I have a good friend here in Texas who got acquainted with McQueen while he was on location down here in, I guess 1965, filming "Baby the Rain Must Fall." Linda said that he and the crew frequented the diner that her best friend's folks ran. She said that several times he took the time to shoot the breeze with her. She said he was very nice and real down to earth in taking the time to talk to a chubby teenage girl. Also, a buddy of my dad's was in McQueen's company in the Marines in the late 40's. He told dad that the guy was a smart aleck. (I certainly hope that most people haven't judged me on what I was at that age either.)

Once again, I read your site with great interest. Keep adding to it. By the way, I too was in the Navy.
Past years of the Sand Pebbles Movie Message Board are available below: