Alan Spencer on

The Sand Pebbles

Released 1966
Distributor 20th Century Fox

Roadshow epics were going the way of the dinosaur by the time Robert Wise’s The Sand Pebbles appeared in 1966, particularly in the wake of the small films (like that year’s Alfie and Georgy Girl) that were speaking to younger ticket-buyers in a way the stodgy blockbusters were not. More’s the pity because Wise’s film, about a machinist’s mate caught up in the Chinese civil war of 1926, is an ambitious attempt to examine both political and personal conflicts against an intriguing historical backdrop. Steve McQueen stars as the rebellious sailor alongside Richard Attenborough whose romance with a Chinese courtesan comes to a tragic end.

About Alan Spencer

Alan Spencer is best known for creating the classic satirical eighties sitcom Sledge Hammer! and the recent controversial "ultra violent" comedy Bullet in the Face for IFC. For years he's been regarded as one of Hollywood's top script doctors and has never lost a patient.