The Million Eyes of Sumuru (1967)
Does the name Harry Alan Towers mean anything to you? If you’re thinking of drive-in fodder from the late 60’s and forward that Towers produced by the dozens and wrote under the alias, Peter Welbeck than you’d be right. Towers seemed to have a talent for casting well known names in his productions that quite often were filmed in far away locations that worked to the advantage of his budgetary restraints. I’m not sure where Sax Rohmer fits into all this but apparently the title character of Sumuru was one of his creations and the film has me believing she was the female version of his world renowned, Dr. Fu Manchu.
Two comparisons hit me head on. First off was the fact that yes, this feels like a Fu Manchu flick without the good doctor or Chris Lee for that matter though Lee was a regular in the Towers stock company. Secondly is that for a brief moment I thought I might be watching an episode of the Persuaders with Tony Curtis and Roger Moore as a couple of crime busting playboys. I say that because this Honk Kong filmed flick has George Nader and Frankie Avalon as just that. A couple of C.I.A. operatives on vacation with the intention of bedding as many lovely ladies as is humanly possible in the time allotted. On top of that, Wilfrid Hyde-White (much like Persuader’s Laurence Naismith) turns up as a representative of Her Majesty who pulls the boys off their vacation and enlists them in the fight against Shirley Eaton’s Sumuru. Sumuru is out to rid the world of male domination. Death will come to any one of her all female army who falls in love with a man, a member of the opposition. To prove it she has a woman put to death shortly after the opening credits.
Nader is the more serioys agent of the two though he keeps his tongue firmly in cheek when faced with death at various points in the film from Canadian born director, Lindsay Shonteff. While Nader gets the majority of screen time, Avalon gets top billing. The pair will discover that Sumuru has married off eleven of her cells to some of the world’s most influential leaders. She’s grooming Maria Rohm to marry another, Klaus Kinski! Dubbed as usual, Klaus is cast as an unlikely President of Hong Kong and was another member of the Towers stock company.
Miss Rohm? She was in numerous films of the producers’ and why not, she was his wife.
With Nader playing the main agent and Frankie chasing girls it’s Nader who is captured by Sumuru and forced to yield to both her plot for world domination and her physical desires. As long as she doesn’t fall in love with him I suppose it’s alright.
Like a good majority of these spy films of the era as well as the Lee Fu Manchu series, there’s bound to be an army of disciples under the main villain, in this case all scantily clad females in silks and bright colors and an island getaway that just might be rigged to go BOOM when called for.
IMDB be damned! I loved this flick with it’s flashy outfits on the ladies, it’s Shaw Brother’s studio locations and laughable fight choreography. Maybe there’s more here than I understand when it comes to psychology and the fact that I enjoyed watching a bunch of aggressive women threatening to beat the hell out of Nader and his sidekick Frankie in hopes of conquering the world. Yes that includes Nader getting a good whipping at the hands of Shirley while the whole time verbally sparring with her as if he’s 007. What does all this female domination say about me? Don’t know, don’t care. Just know I’ll be watching this bit of exploitation again at some point.
For those who may not be aware, Eaton will be forever famous for her appearance as the gold painted victim in the James Bond classic, Goldfinger. She would on to play Sumuru once again though the name is changed slightly in a sequel of sorts for the Towers company in the 1969 follow-up, The Girl From Rio.
A first time viewing for me thanks to the good folks at Blue Underground putting out a double bill on blu ray of this and the follow up from 1969. The company has actually released a welcome number of Towers films on blu in double feature format and will hopefully continue to do so.
And I’d love to have the poster and maybe a lobby card in my collection.