You Can’t Win ‘Em All (1970)


You Can’t Win ‘Em All is a 1970 British-American war film, written by Leo Gordon (also an actor who appears in the film) and directed by Peter Collinson. It stars Tony Curtis and Charles Bronson.

Also known as The Dubious Patriots and The Mercenaries (US working titles) and Soldiers of Fortune (US video title).

Refer to You Can’t Win ‘Em All (1962).


The setting is the time of the Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922), and the end of the Ottoman Empire. Two American soldiers of fortune – Adam (Curtis) and Josh (Bronson) – team up in 1922 Turkey with separate missions. Josh is interested in profiting from the turmoil prevailing as the Ottoman Empire collapses. Adam, the surviving heir to a shipping company, hopes to reclaim a ship seized by the Germans during World War I and interned in a Turkish Port. Before they can achieve their goals, they are captured by the forces of Osman Bey, an Ottoman governor. Osman Bey is impressed by the Americans’ firepower – which includes Thompson submachine guns – and enlists them in a mission to escort his daughters, seemingly to Mecca, but really to Cairo. Because of the war, Turkish ports are blockaded by the British. Knowing that an American ship is not subject to the blockade, Adam suggests using the one held by the Turks, once they have returned it to him.

With Osman Bey’s consent, the group sets off for the coast with Osman Bey’s daughters, and also their guardian, the beautiful and formidable Aila. Along the way, they must contend with the dangers of the terrain, the war, the machinations of Osman Bey’s opportunistic Colonel and also each other’s greed. They also begin to realise that the Bey was not open with them about the real object of their mission, to safeguard a priceless treasure from the empire’s enemies.


  • Tony Curtis as Adam Dyer.
  • Charles Bronson as Josh Corey.
  • Michèle Mercier as Aila.
  • Grégoire Aslan as Osman Bey.
  • Fikret Hakan as Colonel Ahmed Elçi.
  • Salih Güney as Captain Enver.
  • Patrick Magee as Mustapha Kayan (representing Mustafa Kemal Atatürk).
  • Tony Bonner as Reese.
  • John Acheson as Davis.
  • Horst Janson as Wollen.
  • Leo Gordon as Bolek.
  • Reed De Rouen as US Naval Officer.
  • Paul Stassino as Major.


The film was originally known as Dubious Patriots.

“The country, the people, were fabulous”, said Tony Curtis shortly after filming ended. “The thing that did us in was the very shoddy British production set up. They promised certain things on location and didn’t provide them. There were inadequate sanitary conditions: people got sick. The director, Peter Collinson? I have no comment about Mr Collinson. Some day I’ll tell you about him.”

Aircraft sequences were flown and coordinated by Charles Boddington and Lewis Benjamin. The aircraft were owned by ex-RCAF pilot Lynn Garrison who shipped several of his S.E.5 replicas from Ireland to Turkey for the production. They were previously featured in The Blue Max and Darling Lili and would go on to star in Von Richthofen and Brown, Zeppelin, The Great Waldo Pepper, and numerous TV commercials.


  • Vera Cruz, a 1954 film with a similar plot set in the Mexican Revolution.
  • Because of some fictitious historical events, the film was banned and never released in Turkey.
    • After 43 years, on 26 May 2013, a digital TV platform broadcasted the movie for the first time ever.
  • According to the closing credits, the interiors of Osman Bey’s Palace were filmed at Said Halim Pasha Manor, Turkey.
  • In spite of being 4th in the cast list Patrick McGee only appears at the end of the movie and only for 5 minutes.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s):
    • Peter Collinson.
  • Producer(s):
    • Harold Buck … associate producer.
    • Ali Cakus … associate producer: Turkey.
    • Gene Corman … producer.
  • Writer(s):
    • Leo Gordon … (written by) (as Leo V. Gordon).
  • Music:
    • Bert Kaempfert.
  • Cinematography:
    • Kenneth Higgins … director of photography.
  • Editor(s):
    • Raymond Poulton.
  • Production:
    • Columbia Pictures (presents).
    • SRO (uncredited).
  • Distributor(s):
    • Columbia Pictures (1970) (USA) (theatrical).
    • Columbia Film-Verleih (1970) (Austria) (theatrical).
    • Columbia Film-Verleih (1970) (West Germany) (theatrical).
    • Columbia Pictures Corporation (1970) (UK) (theatrical).
    • Columbia Pictures of Argentina (1970) (Argentina) (theatrical).
    • Columbia (1970) (France) (theatrical) (as Columbia Films S.A.).
    • Compagnia Edizioni Internazionali Artistiche Distribuzione (CEIAD) (1970) (Italy) (theatrical).
    • Columbia Film (1970) (Sweden) (theatrical).
    • Columbia-Kamera (1970) (Norway) (theatrical).
    • American Broadcasting Company (ABC) (1974) (USA) (TV) (pan/scan).
    • Columbia Filmes (1970) (Portugal) (theatrical).
    • Columbia TriStar Home Video (Italy) (VHS).
    • Edel Media & Entertainment (2015) (Germany) (DVD) (Starmovie).
    • I.F.R. International Film Release (West Germany) (VHS).
    • KNM Home Entertainment (2008) (Germany) (DVD).
    • RCA/Columbia Pictures International Video (Netherlands) (VHS).
    • RCA/Columbia-Hoyts Home Video (1989) (Australia) (video).
    • US Video (West Germany) (VHS).
    • VTE Film (Norway) (VHS).
    • Videosonic (1988) (Greece) (VHS).
  • Release Date: 24 July 1970.
  • Running Time: 97 minutes.
  • Rating: A.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

Video Link

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