The Big Gamble (1961 film)

The Big Gamble
Directed by Richard Fleischer
Elmo Williams (African action sequences)
Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck
Written by Irwin Shaw
Starring Stephen Boyd
Juliette Gréco
David Wayne
Music by Maurice Jarre
Cinematography William C. Mellor
Edited by Roger Dwyre
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • July 1961 (1961-07)
Running time 100 min.
Country United States
Language English

The Big Gamble is a 1961 adventure film directed by Richard Fleischer. It stars Stephen Boyd.


Vic Brennan is a sailor from Dublin who decides to use his family's fortune and move to Africa to open a truck-hauling business. He is accompanied by his wife, Marie, and a meek cousin, Samuel, who loses their documents, causing customs agents to seize some of their cargo.

As they proceed along the Ivory Coast, a plan occurs to Vic to purchase 300 cases of beer and deliver it to thirsty natives for sale. A German they encounter along the way, Kaltenberg, attempts to hijack it.

A feverish Samuel needs to be nursed back to health. He bravely dives into a raging river to save Vic from drowning. Their misfortune continues when the truck's brakes fail, causing it and their goods to go off a cliff. Just as all seems lost, though, they safely reach their final destination.



Bosley Crowther of the New York Times said the movie doesn't work "despite the vigor and desperation that the tireless director, Richard Fleischer, has got the actors to display. Once we have found that Gregory Ratoff, in the role of the drunken German guide, is a sneak in a comedy character's get-up, there is no more flavor or hope. Not even the volcanic Miss Greco can maintain her inner smoldering fire. There's some good stuff early along, however. There's that wonderful trip through the surf from the side of an offshore freighter. And there's a delightful meeting along a jungle road with a band of gaily dressed natives who trade some heavy wood-chopping for some cases of beer."[1]


  1. ^ Bosley Crowther, "Downhill Race: 'Big Gamble' Opens at Paramount" Sept. 2, 1961

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