The Corner

The Sand Pebbles

I’ve never seen it, but apparently the movie made a big impact on quite a large number of readers. For example:

Mr. Goldberg,

One of my favorite scenes from a movie is in “The Sand Pebbles”, a Steve McQueen vehicle covering American involvement in the Boxer Rebellion. Going upriver to rescue a missionary, they discover he won’t leave, because he has renounced his citizenship and the local militia would never, ever harm him. As the troops approach, he runs toward them waving his ‘renunciation papers’ and shouting that he is a ‘citizen of the world’. He’s the first to die. Even as a kid, that lesson wasn’t lost on me.

Correction! From a reader:


            Your e-mailer is wrong.  “The Sand Pebbles” was set in 1926, during what is known as the Northern Expedition, during which both the Kuomintang and the Communists attacked the government.  The Boxer Rebellion was a revolt against foreign influence in China instigated by the Empress and her advisors as a “cat’s paw” operation from 1899-1901.  I do accept his point about the deluded missionary, the useful fool.


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