In “Les Aventuriers”, Alain Delon, Lino Ventura, and Joanna Shimkus form a trio that sets off in search of sunken treasure off the coast of the Congo. A feature film by Robert Enrico, who often had to negotiate with his two main actors during filming to impose his vision.
The adventurers: a treasure hunt by Robert Enrico
In 1965, Robert Enrico found success in cinemas with The Big Mouths, in which Lino Ventura helps Bourvil take over a sawmill. Won over by the feature film which brought together more than 3.6 million moviegoers, Alain Delon expressed his desire to work with the director and actor of The Tontons gunslingers. Two years later comes out The adventurers a film that draws the public alongside thrill-seekers.
The first is Roland (Lino Ventura), a genius mechanic working on an overpowered dragster prototype. The second, Manu (Alain Delon), is an aerobatic pilot preparing to perform a perilous stunt on the Champs-Élysées. Victims of a scam, the two friends learn the existence of a sunken treasure off the Congolese coast. They go looking for him with Laetitia (Joanna Shimkus), a young artist they have just met and with whom they now form an inseparable trio.
After the big mouths, Robert Enrico collaborates again on the screenplay with José Giovanni, who here adapts his eponymous novel. Serge Reggiani completes the cast of this feature film with sumptuous sets which carries the public into the incredible story of an endearing trio marked by tragic adventures, tour between Tunisia, Senegal, La Ciotat, the Paris region as well as Fort Boyard.
The demands of Lino Ventura and Alain Delon
Throughout the production, Robert Enrico must combine with the demands of its two headliners, reported in a documentary present on the DVD and Blu-Ray bonuses. Some of them concern in particular the choice of Joanna Shimkus. Frightened at the idea that the beginner actress is not up to the task, Alain Delon tries to impose on his partner Nathalie three weeks before filming. But certain of the talent of the young Canadian actress, the filmmaker refuses, managing to convince Nathalie Delon that the role of Laeticia is not made for her. Lino Ventura then supports the director, eager to be on equal ground with his partner.
In the process, Alain Delon highlights several points of the scenario that he does not like. Robert Enrico thwarts his remarks one by one, and the star does not renounce his participation in the project. Filming begins and goes smoothly, at least for the first week. After a few days, the interpreters of Roland and Manu let it be known that they are not satisfied with the performance of Joanna Shimkus, deeming her inexperienced. This provokes the wrath of the filmmaker who, again, does not give in.
A tenacious director
Lino Ventura and Alain Delon then explain to producer Gérard Beytout that they don’t like light scenes describing the daily life of the trio aboard the boat. When he learns of the postponement of the shots of these sequences, Robert Enrico threatens to quit the film. At the last minute, the actors finally agree to shoot them. To apologize to their director and admit their mistake about the usefulness of these moments in life, they throw a big party.
Back in France, the filmmaker must this time face the anger of Lino Ventura. The latter considers that the press officer has not done his job properly, since the media mainly evoke the supposed idyll between Alain Delon and Joanna Shimkus when they approach The adventurers. Not wanting to be treated like a third-tier actor, or even as an extra, the actor explodes. Robert Enrico promises to remedy the situation.
Subsequently, the collaboration with the two stars goes smoothly. And when they find out The adventurers, Alain Delon and Lino Ventura love it. The feature film is a success, which brings together more than 3.1 million spectators in French cinemas.