Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 6th, 2016
Theatrical Release Dates: UK, 1967 (The Million Eyes of Sumuru), West Germany / Spain / USA, 1969 (The Girl from Rio)
Directors: Lindsay Shonteff (The Million Eyes of Sumuru), Jesús Franco (The Girl from Rio)
Writers: Kevin Kavanagh, Harry Alan Towers (The Million Eyes of Sumuru), Harry Alan Towers (The Girl from Rio)
Cast: Frankie Avalon, George Nader, Shirley Eaton, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Klaus Kinski, Patti Chandler, Salli Sachse, Ursula Rank, Krista Nell, Maria Rohm, Paul Chang (The Million Eyes of Sumuru), Shirley Eaton, Richard Wyler, George Sanders, Maria Rohm, Marta Reves, Elisa Montés, Walter Rilla, Beni Cardoso, Herbert Fleischmann (The Girl from Rio)
BluRay released: April 26, 2016
Approximate running times: 79 minutes (The Million Eyes of Sumuru), 94 minutes (The Girl from Rio)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (The Million Eyes of Sumuru), 1.66:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (The Girl from Rio)
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English (Both Films)
Subtitles: English SDH (Both Films)
BluRay Release: Blue Underground
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.98
The Million Eyes of Sumuru: Nick West an American spy while on vacation in Rome gets thrown back into action when he is framed for murder. Sumuru is the leader of an organization of man-hating female assassins whose ultimate goal to take over the world. Sumuru and her angels of death latest target is one of the world’s richest men President Boong. Reluctantly Nick West with the help of his friend Tommy Carter they try to stop Sumuru before she completes her diabolical scheme of world domination.
The Million Eyes of Sumuru is one wacky plot that takes all the spy films most cliched elements and magnifies them tenfold. Besides conquering the world and having all men under her thumb Sumuru also has developed a gun that shots darts which turn their targets to stone. Two things about this film that add humor to the film is how Nick West a CIA agent only cares about his vacation and can’t be persuaded to help save the world until he is framed for murder. Even more silly is how Sumuru and his disciples hate men so much that they become school girls’ ion love when left alone with a man. Despite this melting pot of ideas the film works is an odd sort of way.
A lot of the films appeal is due to director Lindsay Shonteff superb visual eye which beautifully captures the numerous voluptuous women in the film. Other notable films that were also directed by Lindsay Shonteff include Devil Doll, Licensed to Kill (The Second Best Secret Agent in the Whole Wide World) and Clegg. The film features many moments of suspense and plenty of action including a all out raid on Sumuru’s fortress. Besides action and suspense the film also features quite a bit of comedy. The funniest bits in the film are the moments with Klaus Kinski in the role of President Boong.
Once again this is another very limited and brief role from Klaus Kinski. This doesn’t mean that he just merely shows up and is part of the scenery. Kinski as President Boong is the film’s most memorable role. Also is has been reported by director Lindsay Shonteff that Klaus Kinski wanted to make his character even more outlandish than what appears on the screen. Some of Kinski’s ideas that were never used include sporting a very large tongue while licking women and wanting his character to appear from under a pile of cushions whenever someone enters the room.
This films two lead male roles are George Nader as Nick West and Frankie Avalon as Tommy Carter. Nadar and Avalon make an odd duo. In the role of the title character Sumuru is Shirley Eaton who most film fans remembered her from the James Bond filmGoldfinger. Eaton’s characters’ death in Goldfinger ranks among the most memorable to ever grace the silver screen. Eaton would reprise the role of Sumuru two years later in the films The Girl from Rio. In the role of Sumuru she would get a chance to show that she was something more than just a beautiful face and body. Two other notable performances in The Million Eyes of Sumuru are Wilfrid Hyde-White (My Fair Lady) and Maria Rohm. Ultimately The Million Eyes of Sumuru is an entertaining action/adventure that fan of 1960’s spy cinema will get a kick out of.
The Girl from Rio: Not deterred by her previous attempt at world domination, Sumuru concocts a new plan to take over the world and enslave “Mankind”.
The Girl from Rio was directed by Jess Franco, a prolific filmmaker who filmography eclipses two hundred films. Over the course of two years Jess Franco would collaborate with producer Harry Allen Towers on a total of nine films. With The Girl from Rio being their 2nd collaboration and their 2nd adaption from the literary works of Sax Rohmer. Also the screenplay for The Girl from Rio was written by Harry Allan Towers under the pseudonym Peter Welbeck.
Content wise, there are some lot elements in The Girl from Rio plot that have been ported over from The Million Eyes of Sumuru. With none more glaring then Sumuru’s main modus operandi once again being world domination. With that being said, despite the familiarity between these two films. This is a Jess Franco film after all and throughout he injects his unique flourishes. Also there is one slight upgrade in Sumuru’s quest for world domination. This time around she has two foes an American playboy who also just happens to have secret agent like skills and a mobster named Masius.
When compared to its predecessor, The Girl from Rio takes on a distinctively different vibe. The look and feel of The Girl from Rio shares the comic strip aesthetic that Franco had previous used for Lucky, the Inscrutable. While The Million Eyes of Sumuru was more in line with action / adventure films Towers produced before his collaborations with Franco.
Another way that The Girl from Rio sets itself apart from its predecessor is that its amps up the eroticism, most notably its depiction of lesbianism in regards to the Sumuru character. And though there was a hint of S&M in The Million Eyes of Sumuru, it is relatively tame compared to The Girl from Rio.
And when discussing the Franco and Towers collaborations, there is one resource that was never lacking and that is in regard to casting. Cast once again in the role of Sumuru is Shirley Eaton (Goldfinger) and this time around she exudes more confidence in the role. Other notable cast members include, George Sanders (Rebecca, Psychomania) in the role of Masius, a ruthless mobster and Maria Rohm (Venus in Furs, Eugenie… the Story of Her Journey into Perversion) in the role of Lesley, one of Sumuru’s henchwomen. Overall The Girl from Rio is a very satisfying mix of erotica, kitsch and mayhem.
The Million Eyes of Sumuru and The Girl from Rio both come on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. And both films are presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Of these two films, the one with the largest leap in regards to upgrade would be The Million Eyes of Sumuru. It is a film that had last been seen here in America on Mystery Science Theater 3000 in the late 1980’s. The transfer is in excellent shape as colors look vibrant, black levels remain strong and details always look crisp. Up next is the transfer for The Girl from Rio which also comes from an excellent source and then end result easily surpasses Blue Underground previous release for the film.
Each film comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in English and both films also comes with optional English SDH subtitles. Both audio mixes are in very good shape. They both sound, clean, clear, balanced and robust when they need too.
Extras for this release include, a poster & still gallery, a trailer for The Million Eyes of Sumuru (2 minutes 34 seconds), “Trims” from The Girl from Rio (6 minutes 6 seconds, no audio) and a featurette titled Rolling in Rio (14 minutes 24 seconds, in English and French with English subtitles) with comments from director Jess Franco, producer Harry Allan Towers and actress Shirley Eaton.
Jess Franco: Shirley Eaton and his thoughts about her as an actress, George Sanders and his thoughts about him as an actor, shooting the carnival scenes in Rio and elements that he brought to The Girl from Rio.
Harry Allan Towers: The economic advantage of shooting in Rio, George Sanders, working with Jess Franco and how he completed the film a week ahead of schedule, how he conceived the idea for 99 Women and how Jess Franco began shooting in the week of downtime that they had while waiting for the carnival to start.
Shirley Eaton: What intrigued her about the Sumuru character, working with Jess Franco and how she was surprised to find out later about his more risqué films.
Overall another solid release from Blue Underground.
Note: Blue Underground are also releasing Million Eyes of Sumuru on DVD.