The Sand Pebbles is a 1966 American period war film directed by Robert Wise. It tells the story of an independent, rebellious U.S. Navy Machinist's Mate aboard the fictional gunboat USS San Pablo in 1920s China.
The Sand Pebbles features Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough, Richard Crenna, Candice Bergen, Mako and Marayat Andriane (later known as a writer of erotic fiction – Emmanuelle Arsan). Robert Anderson adapted the screenplay from the 1962 novel of the same name by Richard McKenna.
In 1926, Machinist's Mate 1st Class Jake Holman (Steve McQueen) transfers from the Asiatic Fleet flagship to the Yangtze River Patrol gunboat USS San Pablo. (The ship is nicknamed the "Sand Pebble" and its sailors refer to themselves as "Sand Pebbles.") Life aboard a gunboat is very different. It has a labor system – condoned by officers – wherein coolies (manual laborers) do the work, leaving the sailors free for combat drills and idle bickering.
Because he likes to personally take care of a ship's...