Wednesday, 5 March 2014



Let no-one say that you don't get value for money with this bewildering adaptation of Harold Robbins' 712-page doorstopper. Lewis Gilbert, veteran of Alfie, Reach For The Sky and You Only Live Twice, one of my favourite James Bond films (he would go on to two of Roger Moore's entries in the series) crams in two massacres, execution by firing squad, child killing and a full-blown revolution in the first twenty minutes - literally the first reel. But there's still another 157 minutes of international jetsetting, murder, prostitution, politics, orgies, fashion shows and Hollywood legends uttering terrible dialogue still to go.

Indeed, The Adventurers is so full of wild soap opera insanity that you keep expecting the theme to Dallas or Dynasty to start playing every time there's a plot twist. It starts off with revolutionary Roko (Alan Badel) storming to power in a fictitious South American banana republic, and his oldest friend Xenos (Fernando Rey) made Ambassador to Italy. But Xenos' young son wants revenge against evil Gutierrez (Sydney Tafler, spelled wrong) who murdered his family. Eventually the kid grows up to be Bekim Fehmiu, still out for revenge, but left broke after his father's death. So he becomes a gigolo (earning five grand out of Olivia De Havilland alone) to earn enough money so his Russian friend can stage a fashion show. He marries the wealthiest woman in the world (Candice Bergen) so he can one day go back to South America and take his revenge...

During the intermission he's apparently married twice more, and gets inveigled into organising an aid package to his homeland where Alan Badel has now become a tyrannical despot, but crooked financier Charles Aznavour reroutes the ship so he can smuggle arms into the country for another revolution, just as bloody and violent as the first one. Our hero also meets up with the President's daughter, with whom he'd had one passionate fling years ago, and now discovers he has a son....

So it goes on (and on). Aznavour has a secret basement complete with female mannequins glued to the ceiling and a torture dungeon, Lois Maxwell has a ten-second spot as an autograph hunter, there are two fashion shows (one in a Roman arena, one in a disco). This is all galumphing tosh of the highest order: it's not wild enough to be funny but it's too absurd to take seriously. That said, it's not that terrible a film, certainly not a contender for the Golden Raspberry status it's been given in a desperate bid for some cheap laughs. It's got spectacle, great sets, a terrific cast (Fehmiu sadly excepted), and would probably have made a decent if forgettable TV miniseries shown on ITV over two or three nights. All in one sitting as a feature film, it's just too much to take, and that was when streaming it off the internet at home. I dread to think what sitting through it all in a cinema was like.


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