Kwai Chang Caine's Pebble - On
the western adventure KUNG FU/ABC/1972-75 David Carradine played
Kwai Chang Caine, an orphaned boy who was adopted by the monks of a
"As quickly as you can...snatch the pebble from my hand."
During a flashback sequence from the 90-minute movie
pilot Kung Fu (2-22-72) we see Master Chen Ming Kan (Philip Ahn)
interviewing young Caine (Radames Pera) for acceptance into the
Pointing to a pebble in the open palm of his hand Kan says
to Caine: "As quickly as you can...snatch the pebble from my hand." Caine grabs for the tiny stone but Kan's hand closes before he can
get to it. Then, Kan says to Caine, "When you can take the pebble
from my hand, it will be time for you to leave."
Years later, Caine,
fully trained and educated in the Ways of the Shaolin, again
presents himself before Master Kan. This time he snatches the pebble
and thus graduates.
"Time for you to leave"
In a later flashback sequence, Caine visits the
grave of Master Po, another of his monk mentors who was killed by
the royal Chinese nephew. Before departing from Po's graves, Caine
takes a small golden pebble and places it in his belt pouch.
Years later he returns the pebble to the earth along side the
grave of a Spanish missionary priest named Padre Benito who was
killed by outlaws who stole the priest's gold chalice (the priest to
keep the cross).
William Kelly, the script's author, placed a notation beneath the
script title that read: "That we are possessed by what we would
possess; held in bondage to earth and vested things by the
attachments we form for them-even so holy a thing as a chalice, so
slight as thing as a pebble." (Episode No. 18 "The Chalice"
originally titled "The Pebble").
TRIVIA NOTE: According to
"The Kung Fu Book of Caine" by Herbie J. Pilato (Charles Tuttle,
1993), Radames Pera shared his memories of the pebble scene: "
Every time Philip Ahn offered me the pebble, I was able to take
it out of his hand. I didn't mean to do that...But everytime he
opened his palm...you'd hear (the director yell) 'Cut', because it
To solve the problem, director Jerry Thorpe instructed Pera to
telegraph his hand movements so Philip Ahn could shut his hand in
time. After some fifteen takes, the scene was completed.
The popularity of the series gave Philip Ahn multiple
opportunities to recreate this pebble scene with his admirers,
especially those who visited the Moongate, his Chinese restaurant.
There, children would present themselves to Mr. Ahn and ask to
"snatch the pebble" from his hand. The generous actor/entrepreneur
obliged and gave many a youngster a happy remembrance of snatching
the pebble from the sage Kung Fu master.
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