The Adventurers (1970 film)

The Adventurers is a 1970 American adventure drama film directed, produced, and co-written by Lewis Gilbert. It is based on the novel by Harold Robbins.

The Adventurers
Theatrical release poster
Directed byLewis Gilbert
Produced byLewis Gilbert
Screenplay byMichael Hastings
Lewis Gilbert
Based onThe Adventurers
by Harold Robbins
StarringBekim Fehmiu
Candice Bergen
Charles Aznavour
Olivia de Havilland
Fernando Rey
Ernest Borgnine
Alan Badel
Leigh Taylor-Young
Music byAntonio Carlos Jobim
CinematographyClaude Renoir
Edited byAnne V. Coates
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • March 25, 1970 (1970-03-25)
Running time
177 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$12 million[1]
Box office$7,750,000 (US/ Canada rentals)[2]

The film stars Bekim Fehmiu, Candice Bergen, Charles Aznavour, Olivia de Havilland, Fernando Rey, Ernest Borgnine, Alan Badel, and Leigh Taylor-Young. The film was the American film debut of Bekim Fehmiu and was shot in Europe and parts of South America. It is loosely based on the life of Dominican diplomat and playboy Porfirio Rubirosa.


Set in the fictional Latin American country of Cortoguay, it tells the tale of a rich playboy, Dax Xenos, who uses and destroys everyone who crosses his path. His vileness results from having seen his mother and sister raped and murdered by government troops, but his primary obsession is to avenge his father's murder. Dax's father had been a true patriot, unlike any of the other self-seeking presidents in an otherwise poor country always belonging to "the revolution." Dax finds, however, that vengeance and revolution lead to nothing but more of the same.



The score was composed by Bossa nova songwriter Antonio Carlos Jobim. Of the 12 songs featured in this film, three of them, "Children's Games" (Chovendo na Roseira), "A Bed of Flowers For Sue Ann" (Sue Ann) and "Dax & Amparo-Love Theme" (Olha Maria), went on to become some of Jobim's signature songs. These songs were heard for the first time on this soundtrack. The soft and often tender music stands in stark contrast to the darkness of the themes of the story. A rare track by British band Family called "Young Love" was featured as a backing track to a fashion show in the film. This track does not appear on a CD by Family or on any singles.

Release and reception

The Adventurers had a special "airborne world premiere" on February 23, 1970, as the in-flight movie of a TWA Boeing 747 Superjet making its premiere voyage, flying from New York to Los Angeles, with the film's stars and members of the press aboard. It marked the first time that a movie and a plane premiered in the same event.[3][1] A wide release took place at over 100 U.S. theaters on March 25, 1970.[1]

The pre-wide release version ran 205 minutes and was negatively received by the press; Paramount re-cut the film at the last minute but several critics, including Pauline Kael and Joe Morgenstern, could not be convinced to watch it a second time.[1]

Howard Thompson of The New York Times opened his review by stating, "On the screen, 'The Adventurers' turn out to be an even duller bunch of meatballs than they were in Harold Robbins's best-selling novel."[4] Arthur D. Murphy of Variety called it "a classic monument to bad taste ... marked by profligate and squandered production opulence; inferior, imitative and curiously old-hat direction; banal, ludicrous dialog; sub-standard, lifeless and embarrassing acting; cornball music; indulgent, gratuitous and boring violence; and luridly non-erotic sex."[5] Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film 1 star out of 4 and wrote, "'The Adventurers' has nothing to recommend it. It is not erotic. It is not funny. It is violent to the point of obscenity and is as much the story of why film companies are losing millions as it is the story of Harold Robbins' best-selling novel."[6]

Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times stated that the film "is blatant in its borrowing from the more sensational headlines and naked in its manipulation of emotions to the susceptible," adding that "Gilbert is nothing if not consistent: the acting and the relentlessly risible dialogue are uniformly terrible."[7] Gary Arnold of The Washington Post wrote, "Unfortunately, Lewis Gilbert's film version of the novel is quite faithful to the letter and spirit of the original. It alternates from slaughter to torpor to sex to torpor and back again to slaughter. Whatever the mode, the scenes are usually hideous or clumsy on their own terms and useless as clues to subsequent events or the characters' motives."[8] The Monthly Film Bulletin called it "A three-hour slog through every imaginable cliché of writing and direction" and further remarked, "This might be described as the film with everything; trouble is, it is difficult to imagine anybody wanting any of it."[9]

By the 2000s, reviews have found The Adventurers entertaining as an unintentional comedy. In 2005, it was listed in The Official Razzie Movie Guide as one of the Top Ten Best Bad films of all time, with author John Wilson writing that that the movie "ha[s] not even one believable character, performance, or line of dialogue. But it’s all done with such utter sincerity that it’s far more entertaining than this same material would be in the hands of anyone but utter incompetents."[10] Paul Mavis, reviewing the Warner Archive DVD release, enjoyed its outrageousness, stating The Adventurers is, "part faux-David Lean, part lurid comic book with funny accents and naked breasts--and all of it an irresistible, frequently maddening mess."[11]

Director Lewis Gilbert said on June 25, 2010, on the BBC radio programme Desert Island Discs, that The Adventurers was "a big, sprawling, very expensive film which was a disaster. I should never have made it. It's one I'm not proud of."[12]

DVD release

Paramount Home Entertainment first released the film on a widescreen DVD on July 12, 2005. The same company rereleased the film in the Warner Archive Collection on September 24, 2013. The DVD was edited and re-rated PG, with significant cuts to scenes in which women are raped and killed by soldiers.[13]

See also


  1. "The Adventurers - History". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
  2. "Big Rental Films of 1970", Variety, 6 January 1971 p 11
  3. Moore, Ethel Mae (March 14, 1970). "Comfort, Luxury on TWA's New 747". The Chicago Defender. 38.
  4. Thompson, Howard (March 26, 1970). "Harold Robbins's 'Adventurers' Whoops Across Three Screens". The New York Times. 58.
  5. Murphy, Arthur D. (March 25, 1970). "Film Reviews: The Adventurers". Variety. 18.
  6. Siskel, Gene (March 26, 1970). "The Adventurers". Chicago Tribune. Section 2, p. 15.
  7. Thomas, Kevin (March 25, 1970). "'Adventurers' Opens on Various Screens". Los Angeles Times. Part IV, p. 19.
  8. Arnold, Gary (March 27, 1970). "'Adventurers' Goes Nowhere". The Washington Post. B10.
  9. "The Adventurers". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 37 (437): 126. June 1970.
  10. Wilson, John (2005). The Official Razzie Movie Guide: Enjoying the Best of Hollywood's Worst. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 0-446-69334-0.
  12. "Lewis Gilbert". Desert Island Discs. June 25, 2010. BBC. Radio 4.
  13. Retrieved November 23, 2017.
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