"The Sand Pebbles," which tells the story of the USS San Pablo, a US Navy gunboat operating in China in the 1920s, was shot in northern Taiwan over the winter of '65-'66. The movie was directed by Robert Wise, of "The Sound of Music fame, and starred "the King of Cool" Steve McQueen. The film was the 4th highest-grossing movie of 1966 but the shoot was a less-than-inspiring experience for much of the cast and crew (to put it mildly). "Bad Boy" McQueen exhibited plenty of the behavior he was known for and – of course – the weather in northern Taiwan in the winter wasn't friendly to the moviemakers. Listen to this week's Formosa Files episode for the whole story.
Cover images via 20th Century Fox, and right via: forumosa.com.
This website, a tribute page to the 50th anniversary of The Sand Pebbles, was an important resource for this episode.
Also used in this episode were quotes from Marc Eliot’s "Steve McQueen: A Biography."
Below left: The "King of Cool," Steve McQueen in a 1968 movie. McQueen died in 1980 at the age of 50 from a cancer associated with asbestos. Right: Neile Adams, a Filipino actress and dancer, was McQueen's wife from 1956-1972. She accompanied her husband to Taiwan for The Sand Pebbles shoot and later wrote about it in her autobiography, My Husband, My Friend.
Below: Robert Wise (1914-2005), Oscar-winning director of The Sand Pebbles, as well as West Side Story, The Sound of Music, The Andromeda Strain, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture, to name just a few. (Note: All pics below via Wikimedia Commons)
1. McQueen on set with co-star Candice Bergen.
2. McQueen is followed by photographers as he rides a bike in northern Taiwan in the winter of 1965-66.
3. The cover of the 1962 novel The Sand Pebbles, by Richard McKenna which was later adapted into the hit film.
Below: The famous McQueen quote about the difficulties he faced while filming The Sand Pebbles.