Despite its pedigreed cast list, The Young Savages, John Frankenheimer's first feature film, is a relatively tepid affair, though it hints at a grittiness and edge that films that would come 10 years later would start to exhibit. The story involves a small juvenile Italian gang that murders a blind Puerto Rican boy, but Burt Lancaster's prosecutor isn't so sure the case is cut and dried. Interesting ponderation on racial tension, but far from classic.
A three hour epic about a U.S. patrol in 1926 China? Minghella and Bertolucci still make movies like this. Back in 1966 the auteur of the day was Robert Wise, who'd just come off of The Sound of Music. and this story of a ship headed upriver in revolution-torn China is as plodding as the engine on its gunboat. Much of the running time consists of engineer Steve McQueen working on the boat and trying to communicate with the local "slope heads," notably including a young Mako as a local co-worker. The last half of the movie has McQueen on the most protracted search and rescue mission imaginable. Wise has no handle on the out-of-control, yawn-inducing scenes, but McQueen helps to keep things generally interesting. Nominated for eight Oscars, The Sand Pebbles ultimately won none.