Cinema/TV, Film Notes

Film review – The Million Eyes of Sumuru (1967)

My notes on The Million Eyes of Sumuru (1967)

This daffy superspy romp from director Lindsay Shonteff and producer Harry Allan Towers introduces Shirley Eaton as Sax Rohmer’s female Fu Manchu, but is less like Towers’ 1960s series of Fu films than some spinoff from AIP’s Dr Goldfoot pictures. Eaton, famously blonde, is kitted out with an unflattering dark wig, and leads a secret organisation of murderous feminists (their fearsome uniform consists of black silk toreador pants and midriff-baring halters) who operate in Italy and the Far East with very nefarious plans in mind. On her trail are American agent Nick West (George Nader) and millionaire playboy Tommy Carter (Frankie Avalon) – it turns out that Carter is a British agent working for toff Colonel Sir Anthony Baisbrook (Wilfrid Hyde-White) and only faking his accent.

The most bizarre presence (and character name) is President Boong of a made-up Asian country, played by Klaus Kinski as a mincing queen who is still a total hetero lech – it’s even a dual role, since one Boong gets killed only to be revealed as a double. Nick is so macho in a mature sort of way that his mere kiss persuades a short-lived Sumuru minion to defect, but the dragon lady isn’t that impressed herself and enjoys whipping him in her underground island lair. The finish is almost exactly the same as all the Fu Manchu films – the island explodes and the good guys reason that Sumuru couldn’t have escaped, could she?, though we saw her running to a secret passage and Eaton showed up again in an even more threadbare Jesus Franco-directed semi-sequel which dropped her billing from the title and came out as Rio ’70 or The Girl From Rio.

Nader and Avalon are both pretty stiff, neither charming enough to sell it as comedy nor credible enough in action to deliver real thrills, and there’s way too much of them for anyone’s tastes – only the bland, plausible, unflappable Hyde-White, who gives as committed or casual a performance here as in My Fair Lady, really emerges unscathed. Among Sumuru’s ‘million eyes’ (ie: spying snooping women) are Maria Rohm, Salli Sachse, Patti Chandler, Ursula Rank and Krista Nell. Like The Vengeance of Fu Manchu, it makes use of the Shaw Brothers Hong Kong facilities – Towers’ productions are all runaways, as he hopped from territory to territory to keep ahead of his debts.


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