The Sand Pebbles Movie Message Board (2001)

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

From: Alain Peron
Sent: Thursday, November 29, 2001 2:52 AM
To: Crispin Garcia
Subject: What become of the ship?

Good morning
In first, thank you very much and congratulation for your website. I plan a trip to Vietnam in January, and I hear about the "SAN PABLO" retired in this country after the movie. Have you more informations about that? Thank you in advance for your answer.

Best regards
Alain F. PERON
(La Rochelle,FRANCE)

From: HAINES Jeff
Sent: Monday, November 26, 2001 12:47 AM
To: 'Crispin Garcia'
Subject: Sand Pebbles

I'm a longtime fan of The Sand Pebbles dating back to it's original roadshow engagement back in '66.We saw it 3 times in one week in glorious 70mm at the now extinct Paris theatre in Sydney (still got original tickets and program).I'd be very interested in obtaining a loan of the cd-rom. (which also like the Richard Crenna short I've never seen.)


From: Tony Bray
Sent: Monday, October 22, 2001 12:36 PM
To: Crispin Garcia
Subject: Great Site

I am 54 yr-old entertainment writer. Stumbled across your tribute to "The Sand Pebbles". What a treasure!
Thanks for being so informed about one of the best movies ever made. McQueen deserved the Oscar, not Schofield.
Tony Bray

From: Stacy Barnes
Sent: Friday, October 19, 2001 5:15 PM
To: Crispin Garcia
Subject: The Sand Pebbles (P.S.)

I enjoyed all the informative links & info. on your webpage, and have added it to my brand new website that tributes Asian-American actor, Mako ("Po-Han").

I hope that you will check it out, and find it worthy to add to your Sand Pebbles site:) I hope you don't mind that I added some of your pictures of Mako onto my website, as I had a hard time finding stuff about him on and off the web. I did link you twice - on my Sand Pebbles Page (Just pics of Mako from the movie) and on my links page. I hope that is okay.....


From: Ben Bulatao
Sent: Wednesday, October 03, 2001 3:07 AM
To: Crispin Garcia
Subject: Sand Pebbles documentary on the History Channel, October 23rd

I recently worked on a documentary for the History Channel called "History vs. Hollywood: The Sand Pebbles: Reflections from a Distant Shore". It will air at 8 p.m., Tuesday, October 23rd. Please get the word out. We were very fortunate to have access to behind the scenes b-roll and photos. Let me know what you think of the show if you get a chance to see it. I never saw "The Sand Pebbles" before working on this project, but I'm a new fan of the movie and Steve McQueen. We even scored a last minute interview with the director Robert Wise. It wouldn't have been the same without his voice in the show. Thanks for your time.

Ben Bulatao

From: Paul Jefferies
Sent: Wednesday, September 05, 2001 11:12 PM
To: Crispin Garcia
Subject: Sand Pebbles Forum

Dear Mr. Garcia

My name is Paul Jefferies. I am 18 yrs old and attending college at the University of Arizona in Tucson. I was introduced to Sand Pebbles by my grandfather a few years ago, and absolutely fell in love with the movie. I was very glad to finally find something on the internet entirly devoted to this wonderful, sometimes over-looked, classic. Your site is great! I have a few questions. I've been looking all over for a screenplay for SP, and I can't find one. Your website has a link to the screenplay, but that website has closed down. Is there anyway possible to recieve a transcript from someone? I started to write a transcript, but it is a very daunting task, indeed. Secondly, what is the name of the British guy on the boat in the beginning? Hamilton goes around the table introducing everyone to Hollman, and when he comes to the British guy, the name is fumbled, and the movie does not have close captions. The name sounds something like Havskow, but I'm not sure. Finally, their are many characters listed in the credits, and I do not know who they are in the movie. Who is Perna (Shepard Sanders), Farren (James Jeter), Restorff (Gus Trikonis), Wilsey (Jay Allen Hopkins), Haythorn (Stephen Jahn), Lamb (Stephen Ferry), Coleman, and Waldron? Any answers you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much. -Paul Jefferies

Webmaster note: The script link has been updated to the Script Shack website.

Subject: Re: A Ship Called San Pablo...
Date: Sat, 1 September 2001 -15:21
From: Darryl Monroe
To: Crispin Garcia

Thanks so much for getting back to me. YES! that is exactly the scene (San Pablo on fire) I am referring to. In my opinion, very relative footage, especially if you know it is there and it is missing. Just adds to the over all futility of the film. This film, along with the film "China Town" are my favorite films of all time because, despite the best intentions and extraordinary effort, nothing works out. You might say that I am morose or something but this approach just seems more honest. I can not express enough thanks for your efforts to make such a wonderful site.... Did you know that Paul Newman was offered Holman's role first? It probably says that somewhere in your site. Not to slam Newman, not in the least, but I just think it is very fortunate all around that he declined, as Ronald Reagan did for Casablanca. Steve McQ brought such a fine sense of vulnerability to the part.....] an incredible, incredible film.


Subject: A Ship Called San Pablo...
Date: Fri, 31 Aug 2001 -12:46
From: Darryl Monroe
To: Crispin Garcia

You are the man!!!
I am blown away by your site! I remember seeing TSP, when I was 12 years old with my dad (1966} when it was still in "Exclusive Engagement", needless to say I was horrified when they cut out the first approach in the "Junk Fight". I hope to god this is the 'lost footage' you speak of. I have never met anyone else who even is aware of this...until now. Needless to say, anyway I can borrow/see it? Please let me know and thank you, much.

Darryl Monroe

Subject: Sand Pebbles
Date: Wed, 29 Aug 2001 07:53:14 -0400
To: Crispin Garcia

Dear Crispin:
Thank you very much for your timely response to my query.

By the way, I neglected to congratulate you on your magnificent website. It is truly absorbing and well designed. I enjoyed it immensely. I have always been fond of this movie even though it does, as you correctly note, have an anti-war theme. I am a Navy veteran and I have always been interested in riverine operations.

I think the movie does a fairly nice job of compressing McKenna's book. For a first novel, it was very good but - as with most first novels - it tended to meander a bit and indulge in a bit too much literary artifice, to wit: the over use of metaphor. Nonetheless, it still tells a compelling and poignant story about an obscure and intriguing aspect of Naval history. McKenna understood that the Collins character had been put in an almost impossible situation by his superiors. The Coolidge administration was under political pressure to protect American lives and property but was in no way ready to go to war. The conflict between the KMT and the Reds was escalating and it was very much in our interest not to alienate the KMT as we needed them as an ally against Japan and (probably) the Reds. The book did a nice job of describing the political situation but Wise failed to explain the context as well as he should have.

In many ways, the riverine force was left to fend for itself. It wouldn't be withdrawn and wouldn't be reinforced. (Much like Gregory Peck's men on "Pork Chop Hill."). I still get a chill of excitement when LT Collins orders the battle flag raised and the USS San Pablo sails into harm's way, accompanied by the wonderful Jerry Goldsmith score. Wise may view that as war-mongering, but McKenna understood that the inactivity (and dependence on coolie labor) had taken from the crew their whole reason for existence. LT Collins gave it back to them.

By the way, since you appear to be the world's foremost expert on this fine film, do you know what happened to the ship that had been contructed for the film. Was it scrapped? Does it still exist in Taiwan? Did 20th Century-Fox sail it back to the USA for promotional activities in 1966? If so, I sure would like to visit it.

Thanking you again for your kind courtesy and your devotion to film history, I am, very truly yours,

Nicholas Kierniesky

PS: As you know, McQueen served in the USMC from '46-'49. He handled the BAR fairly well, as he did the Holman characterization. In her 1985 book, Neile Adams (McQueen) states that she first read the novel and brought it to her husband's attention. In some ways, the troubled MM1 Holman was very much like the troubled McQueen. The same basic character traits can also be seen in his roles in "The War Lover" and "Hell Is For Heroes." In the latter, the ending is very similar. PVT Reese and MM1 Holman both die, in the midst of anger, confusion, despair, loyalty and heroism. It is a shame that McQueen's personal life was so misquided and immoral. The personal demons that haunted him, however, undoubtedly influenced his screen persona.

Regards, NK


Subject: Sand Pebbles
From: Nicholas Kierniesky
Date: August 28, 2001 - 4:23 PM
To: Crispin Garcia

Dear Sir:
Who made the decision to change the fate of LT Collins? The director or the screenwriter? In the book, Collins is very sympthetic and survives the China Light mission. In the movie, he dies, and I feel his character is a bit less sympathetic. Hubris? I don't think McKenna would have approved.

Any information you can share would be appreciated.
Thank you.


Subject: Québec City 1969
From: Jean-Maurice Tremblay
Date: August 24, 2001 - 7:37 PM
To: Crispin Garcia

The Sand Pebbles premiered in Québec in February 1969 (french version). I was 14. Paid 0.75$ for a movie for the first time. When the curtain came down for the Intermission, I prepared myself to leave... then I was told there was another half to see. Growing up...

I remember the caption of the newspaper ad:


A (desperate stubborn tenacious unyielding...) struggle to protect their right to happiness! There's is an english word for (farouche), but I do not have a dictionary with me.

I never found the equivalent in the USA ads. But it describes so well the lives of Frenchy, Jake, Shirley, Po-Han,...


Subject: Charles Robinson
Date: Thu, 05 Jul 2001 00:08:52 -0700
From: Canesugar
To: Crispin Garcia

Hello, I found this actor very interesting and handsome, yet there is no more movies on this person. I can only find information on a Charles M. Robinson (III) who seems to be a writer of books on LBJ and the Texas Rangers.

I have the Lp and the Movie on VHS and have enjoyed it yet this person has only been on screen once.

Can you give me any bio or information on Charles Robinson (III); he had such a intergral part of the film and has dissappeared off the face of the earth.

Robert J. duPreez

San Jose, CA

Answer: Some of his credits are cross-filed as Charles Robinson (I) in the Internet Movie DataBase.

Subject: Re: The Sand Pebbles
Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2001 19:41:26 -0700
From: Jean-Maurice Tremblay
To: Crispin Garcia

On the poster... I beg to differ. Send a word to Robert Wise if you do not believe me (I do not have his coordinates): the artwork on the USA 1 sheet you refer to was signed by Howard Terpning... on the "uncut" 6 sheet you could read the signature of the artist at the extreme left (over the ropes): Terpning. Besides, the style is the same as these other works: Doctor Zhivago, Ice Station Zebra (attached), Grand Prix, Cleopatra,... Maybe the fellow you mentioned (Dick Poole) did the other US poster, the one that appeared on the 1966 LP. Debate to continue...

Now I understand your attachment to SP... having been in Vietnam yourself... "What the hell happened ! ... I was home..."

Back to the missing scenes:
1- Restaurant scene: Girl: "What would you think if Chinese gunboats were patrolling the Mississippi river ?"
Steve: "I'd like to see that..."
(the restaurant scene is just before the scene where Steve is alone facing the elephant in the park, pensive...)
2- Local bandits scenes (right after Steve went up to tell the Captain they had to stop and repair,....he hears the shots and hides by the chimney). Jennings explains "Local bandits... they only make holes in the chimney"
3- Fire scene. San Pablo is retreating a bit, to extinguish the fire,... Just before that, as they were preparing, Steve and other guys install the flag, they stand (all) for a moment (almost saluting) (I am not sure. But I do not believe I saw the flag scene in the DVD version.

I have a feeling Wise made these cuts intentionally: 2 non-action / action scenes; symbolic references to US patriotism and Vietnam involvement. But I do miss them, every minute.

Who would have known watching The Towering Inferno that Steve had 5 years to live... sad...

I attach "Zebra" so you can compare the artist's touch...

Keep up the good work. JMT.

Subject: The Sand Pebbles
Date: Wed, 13 Jun 2001 17:32:50 -0700
From: Jean-Maurice Tremblay
To: Crispin Garcia

What a pleasure to visit your site occasionally to find new artifacts: un set complet de photos de France. Keep up the good work!

I was annoyed too by the treatment Fox gave Pebbles compared to the treatment they gave Cleopatra (re. missing minutes: gunfight on the river with local bandits; McQueen fixing the engine himself after the death of Chen and before his meeting with the Captain; the lovely restaurant scene between Holman and Shirley, with snow through the window; final river battle: Holman giving orders, who stays down and who fights + Holman fighting the fire). STILL, it is the best package so far, especially in french. That's the version I remember, because that's the version I saw in 1969 for 75 cents, ...14 years old then.

One request if I may: the posters. The USA 1 sheet is the best on the web. Any more like that? Like a huge artwork only poster... I used to have a 6 sheeter showing only the HOWARD TERPNING artwork. Any poster from Terpning would also be welcomed: Grand Prix, Zhivago, Gone With The Wind,...

Tell me what you think...
Jean-Maurice Tremblay Montréal

Subject: Terrific site!
Date: Thu, 7 Jun 2001 11:38:18 -0700 (PDT)
From: Chet Nakada
To: Crispin Garcia

I just wanted to compliment you on the Sand Pebbles site. My father was/is friends with Mako and this has always been one of my all time favorite movies. McQueen, as always, was amazing but the whole story and cast is unmatched.

I've always been disappointed Mako has never really topped his role in the Sand Pebbles.


Subject: Reply
Date: Tue, 05 Jun 2001 10:47:23 -0700
From: Peter Moore
To: Crispin Garcia

Dear Crispin,
I just wanted to thank you for your kind letter. Just got my DVD yesterday and watched it last night. I know it's not the restored product everybody would love, but I was impressed all the same. It was great to have the commentary and fresh insights. It's just too bad they didn't give credit to Richard Crenna, a wonderful actor in his own right. I very much enjoyed his insights into the character of Capt. Collins and some of the technical aspects of the film. Once again thanks for the kind comments and keep the faith.

Peter Moore, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Subject: The Sand Pebbles
Date: Sun, 03 Jun 2001 20:49:55 -0500
From: Erika Combe
To: Crispin Garcia

Hello Cris Garcia,
I am from Estrasbourg, France, I've taken a look at your web page, and it was very nice.

Candice Bergen is my favorite actress and Shirley is the best character in the film. What do you think that Shirley sees in Jake if he is only a simple sailor? And on the other hand, what Jake sees in Shirley.


Subject: Sand Pebbles
Date: Sat, 2 Jun 2001 16:52:07 -0700 (PDT)
From: jim donald
To: Crispin Garcia

First of all let me say that I enjoyed your website .It has been years since I delved into the "Sand Pebbles". I have a question that I can't find an answer to. Alan Hopkins who played the character Wilsey in the movie. Is he the same Jay Alan Hopkins the assistant director who assisted in movies like the Godfather and Caddyshack. Is he currently active and where was he from? I would truly appreciate any info that you could forward on this gentleman. Thank you very much.

Jim Donald

Subject: The Sand Pebbles Web Site
Date: Wed, 30 May 2001 14:13:53 -0700
From: Peter Moore
To: Crispin Garcia

Just a quick note to say thanks for doing such an excellent job on this site. It's obvious that a lot of love and enthusiasm for the film were poured into it. I remember seeing the film for the first time when I was maybe 10 or 11 years old on an afternoon Dialing for Dollars show. What an impact it had on me! Now I'm 36 and looking forward to getting a copy of the DVD. I don't know how many times I've seen it--I only know that I never get tired of watching it. It's funny how some movies can be critically drubbed or fizzle at the box-office, and yet a moderately sized core of admirers can be drawn to it in spite of whatever anyone else says. Movies such as The Big Country (William Wyler) and A Bridge Too Far (Mr. Attenborough), Flight of the Phoenix and others become, to me at least a kind of "secret treasure" that only you and others like you can comprehend and relate to. And you can receive comfort that there are are others like you who "get it". But the greatest enjoyment for me is to introduce these films to someone else who's never even heard of it--and see the same kind of reaction in them. I guess I like winning over converts! The Sand Pebbles is a truly great film and one of my personal favourites. Who hasn't wondered some time in our life as we look back and try to assess what life is all about what Jake wondered as he came to the end of his life, "What the hell happened?" Once again, excellent work.

Peter Moore

Subject: TSP DVD
Date:Sun, 20 May 2001 21:40:56 -0500
From: Steven Bryson
To: Crispin Garcia

Hello Cris,

I purchased a DVD of The Sand Pebbles at BestBuy today. I notice that on the one I purchased it shows a running time of "APPROX. 179 MINUTES", and it shows as being in anamorphic widescreen -- no mention of a full screen version. Do you know if Fox put out more than one version on DVD?

Thanks, and take care.

Steve Bryson

Subject: VHS length v/s DVD length
Date: Wed, 09 May 2001 11:07:55 +0200
From: Stefan Andersson
To: Crispin Garcia


Just found your site on THE SAND PEBBLES.

I very much appreciate your concern for this excellent film, and support your desire for a restoration.

Item of interest: the VHS version lists online at 193 minutes. Either this is the uncut film or the length info was not compared to the actual film transferred to video.

A source of the uncut film may be the Swedish Film Institute archives. Swedish Board of censorship passed it uncut at 3.12.58. Maybe the archive got an uncut copy.

S. Andersson

Subject: About the DVD
Date: Sat, 21 Apr 2001 23:32:41 -0500
From: J. C. Lipscomb
To: Crispin Garcia


Great website! I'm a big fan of Sand Pebbles.

Can you elaborate on the "notable missing elements" on the DVD. I don't follow.


Subject: Sand Pebbles on DVD
Date: Sun, 25 Feb 2001 17:04:42 -0800
From: David Clayton
To: Crispin Garcia

Dear Crispin,
You probably know about this already, but I just discovered that Fox is finally getting around to putting out The Sand Pebbles on DVD in May--so now we should finally get to see it in the correct format and in a good digital transfer. Needless to say, I pre-ordered a copy from Amazon immediately. Right now, I'm working on a little piece about the Lewis Milestone-Clifford Odets collaboration The General Died at Dawn (1936). I hope to have it completed and posted in a few days. Hope everything is going well with you.

Best wishes, Dave C

PS Ironically enough, I'm working on a US Naval vessel myself right now--the USS Mobile Bay--teaching basic composition to sailors.

Dave Clayton

Subject: The Sand Pebbles
Date: Sat, 24 Feb 2001 15:48:08 -0600
From: Trace Havard
To: Crispin Garcia

I really enjoyed your website, very interesting. The MAD satire was hilarious, I'd heard of it but never got the opportunity to read it. Mort Drucker is one of a kind. I first read the novel while in high school in the 70's and saw the film at about the same time. In my opinion it's one of the few times a film caught the book exactly. Steve McQueen should've won best actor for his portrayal and the movie, best picture. In 1975 I joined the U.S. Navy and retired just over 3 years ago. Most of my career I spent in Japan on destroyers. The gunboat navy is gone and the Asiatic Fleet is now the 7th Fleet but sailors still remain in the Far East, some marrying and settling down never to return stateside. They go from one ship to another. the Navy frowns on it, the slang term is "homesteadIng" but it still occurs.

I can remember seeing posters of Steve McQueen as Jake Holman on many ship's bulkheads and barracks walls in the 70's.

There is a camraderie like no where else in the Navy. You begin to know ports like Singapore and Hong Kong like the next town over back home. Soon you have to make a choice whether to go or stay. Stay and you'll never really belong, no matter how long you've been there. You're a Westerner among Asians. But to return you feel just as lost and out of place.

It might interest you and other "Sand Pebbles" that the Naval Institute press has a collection of McKenna's short stories and the beginnings of a novel. It's entitled "The Left Handed Monkey Wrench." It shows that he still had alot to share.

Also of interest is a model soldier company out of Las Vegas may be developing a Sand Pebbles limited collector's edition set. They have sets based on the movies "Beau Geste", "Zulu", "The Warlord", "The Patriot" and others. Their website hinted about gunboats. I can't recall the company but will keep you updated. I found a Sand Pebbles half sheet at a swap meet and it's framed and hanging in my living room. Had alot of offers but no way!!!! Well I'll close for now, again thanks for the site, keep up the good work.

Fair winds,
Trace Havard
CPO U.S. Navy (ret.)

Subject: RE: The San Pablo's engine room?
Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2001 21:14:25 EST
From: Ken Keith
To: Crispin Garcia

The Sand Pebble engine aboard the Lane Victory is the original engine used in the Sand Pebble movie.
If you want the history of the engine write our ship office in care of:

Mary Ann
BOX 629
San Pedro, CA

Ken Keith

Subject: The San Pablo's engine room?
Date: Sat, 17 Feb 2001 23:33:43 -0500
From: Jamie Watson
To: Crispin Garcia


What a joy to find your website devoted to this remarkable and underacknowledged film. It's been one of my favorites since childhood and remains so to this day. What I wouldn't give to see it once more on the big screen! I still have my original LP soundtrack, and was greatly disappointed by the insertion of different Overture music for the Varese Sarabande CD release. Boo!

I live in Philadelphia, and for years the U.S.S. Olympia, Admiral Dewey's flagship from the Battle of Manila Bay, has been moored here as a visitor's attraction. You can stand in footprints marking the spot on deck where the words, "You may fire when ready, Gridley" were spoken. The Olympia folks claim the engine room of the ship was fully replicated for "The Sand Pebbles" and I visited it fondly for this reason, but I seem to be reading otherwise at the "S S Victory Lane" website. What's the truth?

Jamie Watson

Subject: The Sand Pebbles DVD
Date: Wed, 14 Feb 2001 17:48:36 -0800
From: Catherine Pierce
To: Crispin Garcia

Dear Crispin:

My company, Sharpline Arts produced the commentary for the DVD release of THE SAND PEBBLES. Our producer, David Fein and creative director, Michael Matessino also just finished the DVD for Star Trek: The Motion Picture with Mr. Wise. I wanted to applaud you for creating an amazing tribute to the film with your Sand Pebbles website! The DVD will be available on May 15, 2001 and includes a commentary with Mr. Wise, Richard Crenna, Candice Bergen, and Mako. Each artist contributes wonderful stories about the making of this great film - taking you on an exciting behind-the-scenes adventure they all shared while creating THE SAND PEBBLES. I hope all those who love the film as you do will be pleased with the result.

Keep up the good work!

Best regards,

Catherine Pierce
Project Administrator, Sharpline Arts

Subject: Sand Pebbles DVD
Date: Sun, 28 Jan 2001 18:50:56 -0500
From: spyguise
To: Crispin Garcia

I was thoroughly surprised and delighted to see your excellent site devoted to "The Sand Pebbles". Although this film was a hit and received numerous Oscar nominations, I don't believe it ever received the praise it fully deserved.

I occasionally produce special edition DVD's with "Making of" featurettes on them. It may interest you to know that last year I supplied Fox with a very good 16mm transfer print of "Ship Called San Pablo". The print was somewhat reddish, so I had it painstakingly color corrected when converted to Beta video. As far as I know, Fox still intends to include it on the DVD. Additionally, I provided tapes of the Richard Attenborough publicity record in which he reports from the set of the film. Again, as far as I know, this will also be on the DVD, though I haven't pursued it with Fox in recent months.

Keep up the good work!

Lee Pfeiffer

Subject: Sand Pebbles DVD 5/15
Date: Fri, 19 Jan 2001 05:19:28 -0500
From: Mike Strong
To: Crispin Garcia

Hi again Crispin...Mike Strong, I saw some new news yesterday for the release of The Sand Pebbles on DVD. I think you will be pleased, as I was. This will be one of the few I have ever pre-orderd once it becomes available and plan on having a small party for the screening. If you live near NC, let me know...Mike


Past years of the Sand Pebbles Movie Forum are available below: