Friday 28 October 2022

Movie Review: You Can't Win' Em All (1970)

An adventure set in Turkey, You Can't Win 'Em All offers impressive scenery and two willing stars, but a hopelessly confused plot and lackadaisical pacing.

In 1922, American adventurers Adam Dyer (Tony Curtis) and Josh Corey (Charles Bronson) meet in the Aegean Sea. Josh is looking to profit from the ongoing Greco-Turkish War and internal Turkish strife by selling the services of his well-armed mercenary unit. Adam wants to reclaim a ship seized from his family during the Great War. 

Colonel Elci (Fikret Hakan), acting on behalf of local governor Osman Bey (Gregoire Aslan), hires the two men to escort a train carrying undisclosed precious cargo, with Adam hoping to secure the release of his ship as part of the deal. Adam and Josh soon learn they are helping to transport the governor's daughters along with their guardian Aila (Michele Mercier), plus gold bars and precious jewels. Numerous skirmishes with various enemies await.

You Can't Win 'Em All is a series of highlights in search of a cause. The set-pieces are well-staged and reasonably rousing, including an old fashioned bar brawl, a noisy battle around a train enhanced by machine-guns, another shooting free-for-all on a boat, plus the bonus of an air raid on an army camp.

The problem for director Peter Collinson is all the bits in-between. Intended as an old-fashioned buddy adventure in foreign lands, the Leo V. Gordon script proceeds in fits and starts, contains long stretches of nothingness, and quickly unravels into incomprehensible territory. The myriad factions competing for cheap labour in the form of uniformed extras include the Turkish army, Turkish rebels, Greek invaders, and American meddlers. Combined with multiple shifting personal agendas and everyone lying all the time, it's never clear who is trying to do what to whom or why. 

Collinson does not help matters by wasting endless shots on travelogue-style Turkish scenery. A train moving through the countryside, mounted armies galloping through the terrain, and colourful grand halls full of festive food and belly dancers are all very pretty, but ultimately betray the lack of content. Bronson (proficient profiteer) and Curtis (weasley womanizer) appear interested, share decent rapport, trade one-liners, and exude well-earned charisma, but they are defeated by the wayward plotting. You Can't Win' Em All can't fill the empty spaces between punctuations.

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  1. This is a a remake of 1956 movie
    VERA CRUZ. Burt Lancaster and Gary cooper Charles Bronson played a gang member with Ernest Borgnine jack Elam

    1. Yes, similar plots. Vera Cruz is more polished and more engaging.


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