The Girl From Rio (1969)

The Girl From Rio (1969)‘If one of my girls isn’t perfect, she must die.’

Sumuru and her army of beautiful women plan to take over the world. She accumulates vast wealth in Femina, a city she has created near Rio De Janeiro. A handsome crook arrives from the U.S. with a suitcase containing 10 million dollars but she isn’t the only one with an interest in the money.

Sequel to ‘The Million Eyes of Sumuru’ (1967), which again stars former Bond Girl Shirley Eaton in the title role. This time she pits her feminine wiles against an ageing George Sanders and hunky Richard Wyler. Producing again was Harry Alan Towers, who often funded cheap pictures made in exotic locations and wrote a lot of them under the name Peter Welbeck (as he does here). Eurotrash auteur Jess Franco (‘Vampyros Lesbos’ (1971)) is in the director’s chair so the stage is set for some guilty pleasure. At least you would think so. What emerges instead is a relentlessly dull, tepid spy flick, which is terribly underwritten and often displays its obviously limited budget.

The Girl From Rio (1969)

The fashion police were on the way.

Franco and Towers had already adapted novelist Sax Rohmer’s most famous creation for the screen, delivering the distinctly underwhelming ‘Blood of Fu Manchu’ (1968), the fourth movie in the well known series starring Christopher Lee. They also shot the tatty, incoherent bits and pieces that were stapled together by a blind man as ‘The Castle of Fu Manchu’ (1969). Not surprisingly, that effort ended the series.

This film, sometimes titled ‘Rio 70’, ‘Future Women’ or ‘Mothers of America'(?!), has potential but some kind of script would have helped. All we get are some tiresome chases, very badly executed fist fights and an explosive climax rendered by throwing some canisters of yellow smoke about and shaking the camera. Very vigorously. Franco throws in some lesbianism late on but it’s far too little too late as all the promised sexual politics and action is thrown aside in favour of having lots of beautiful women in tame fetish gear who just stand around a lot.

Eaton was actually very good in ‘The Million Eyes of Sumuru’ (1967), a film sunk without trace by the ‘comedy’ stylings of heroes George Nader and Frankie Avalon(!) but her heart really doesn’t seem to be in it here. In fact, she retired after this film and hasn’t acted since. Sanders wears scarlet trousers, fondles gorgeous 33-year old Elisa Montes (he was 62 at the time!) and hangs around for his paycheque. In one scene he reads a Popeye comic whilst a girl is tortured. But the worst performance in the picture goes to leading man Richard Wyler, a man with the screen charisma of wet cardboard.

There’s the inevitable footage of the Rio carnival (actually quite good so probably shot by someone else) and the climax features a helicopter attack on Femina, which was actually a local art museum. This spectacular set piece features lots of extras falling over several times and shaking their prop guns to simulate machine gun fire.

And why couldn’t they get Sumuru’s name right? Sumander? Sunander? Sumitra? What was it again?

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