Future Women (1969)

AKA: The Seven Secrets of Sumuru, Future Woman, Rio 70, River 70, Sumuru, The Girl From Rio
Director: Jess Franco
Starring: Shirley Eaton, Richard Wyler, George Sanders, Maria Rohm
Music: Daniel White

This film goes by many names and is a sequel to The Million Eyes Of Sumuru, although the only linking thread seems to be Shirley Eaton, and even her character name changes from version to version. Apparently this film has finally been released by Blue Underground on DVD as The Girl From Rio, which is great if you are a glutton for punishment and The Million Eyes Of Sumuru was not enough for you. Well, maybe I am not being fair here. Whereas the first Sumuru movie was a cross between a Fu Manchu mystery and a Beach Party film, this second one moves into JESS FRANCO territory. Who and what is Jess Franco? Jess (or sometimes Jesus) Franco is a film director who made his reputation by directing a string of Euro-sleaze films. Titles amongst his 180 plus film catalogue include Vampyros Lesbos, Killer Barbie’s versus Dracula, Mari-Cookie, Killer Tarantula in 8 Legs to Love You, Blood Sucking Nazi Zombies, and Sadisterótica. You can read reviews of Franco’s Attack of the Robots, The Castle of Fu Manchu, Kiss Me Monster, and Lucky the Inscrutable. Franco’s films are routinely low budget and contain gratuitous violence and nudity.

In the indispensable The Eurospy Guide by Matt Blake and David Deal, they cheekily described the amazing Mister Franco like this:

“…he spent the whole of the sixties and early seventies traipsing from one exotic location to another, accompanied by a gang of mates and some beautiful women – making films whenever he couldn’t find a good restaurant to sit in all afternoon.”

I am sure it wasn’t all beer and skittles for Franco, but that passage sums up what you can expect from a Franco film apart from the aforementioned violence and nudity – unusual exotic locations and lazy film-making. In the case of Future Women there are great South American locations, and of course featuring the great architectural marvel that is the City of Brasilia, which stands in for the City of Femina. As for the film-making, well it’s a step up from Lindsay Shonteff’s Million Eyes Of Sumuru, but it is pretty low down on the creativity list. A few nice shots of rain forests and sun-sets do not add up to a great film.

Now all that background information probably has you thinking that it might fit into the ‘So Bad, It Is Good’ category. Forget it. It is really crap. Sure it has the odd nude bod, but that doesn’t lift it off the bottom rung. Here’s a quick introduction to the mind numbing plot…

After a title sequence that verges on being soft-core porn, featuring some women clad in transparent mesh tops with steam rising around them, we see the arrival of Jeff Sutton (Richard Wyler) in Rio. He checks into a hotel, with no luggage other than a briefcase filled with ten million dollars. As he checks in, he orders some shirts, to be sent to his room, and a haircut and manicure. The manicurist is Leslie Mathers (played by Franco regular Maria Rohm) and she immediately forms an attached with Sutton.

Meanwhile, the underworld has heard rumblings about Sutton, how he has stolen a large amount of money and fled to Rio. The head of Rio’s underworld Masius, (George Sanders), is interested in acquiring the money for himself. He sends out a squad of underlings to capture Sutton and acquire the cash.

Later that evening, Sutton and Leslie go out to dinner. The meal goes well, but as they stroll back to the hotel, they are accosted by a group of men in carnival masks and brandishing knives. Sutton proves himself adept in a stoush and manages to drag himself, and Leslie back to the hotel.

You may have heard the old saying, ‘if it is in focus, it’s porn. If it’s blurred, then it’s art!’ Back in Sutton’s room, Leslie throws herself at her new man. Franco films this scene through a vase, and the glass distorts and blurs the image. So it must be art! The next morning a newspaper is delivered to the room. Sutton’s face is all over the front page, and now everybody wants a piece of the action. With Leslie’s help, Sutton decides to leave the city. The pair head to the airport. Masius’ men are waiting and they grab Leslie. Sutton is forced to fight his way through a gauntlet of men and barely makes it to the plane. But things aren’t quite what they seem, as Leslie belonged to a colony of women who live in the city of Femina. Femina is ruled by Sumanda (Shirley Eaton), who has plans of conquering the world with her all-girl army. No sooner has Sutton boarded the plane, and then he is drugged by the hostess. In fact he is the only passenger. The plane is filled with an army of Sumuru’s women who are there to take him back to Femina.

When Sutton awakes, he is in Femina and he is a captive of Sumuru. Why does she want him? She doesn’t need the money. And why is Sutton happy to be in Femina? Could it be, that he wanted to go there all along?

From the synopsis above, Future Women may not seem like much of a spy film, but Sutton has a duel purpose for being in Rio, and by the end of the film we are definitely in ‘spy’ territory. Just how many viewers will make it to the end of this film, now that’s another question!

On the positive side, the film is colourful and the locations are great, but then again so are postcards. And on their side, most postcards have more depth than this production. You have been warned!

The soundtrack, credited to Daniel White is pleasant enough. Appropriately enough for a film set in South America, it is in a Latin style, featuring plenty of bongos, xylophones, flutes, and brass. For the sequences in the City of Femina, White reverts to more futuristic, electronic sounds.

Strangely, the version I have seen of this film, the Shirley Eaton character, is called Sumanda? Initially this film was intended to be a sequel to The Million Eyes Of Sumuru and as such, I would expect her to be called ‘Sumuru. I could try to find other versions of the film to compare, such as the new The Girl From Rio, but I don’t think I really want to spend too much more time on this turkey. But please, if you want to track down alternate versions to compare the differences, be my guest.

This review is based on the Shocking Videos DVD.

3 Comments Posted in Film and Cinema
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3 Comments

  1. The switching of names has to do with legal rights. The owners of the rights of Sumuru (by the way, that’s the original name of ‘the million eyes of Su-Muru’) didn’t want have anything to do with the Jess Franco versions. So the name had to be changed. Therefore after the shooting of the film the name of Sumuru, in different versions, was changed into Sumanda & Sumitra.

  2. Thanks for your input Flip. I figured it must be something like that.

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