The Million Eyes of Sumuru (1967)

AKA: The 1000 Eyes of Su-Muru, The Slaves of Sumuru, Sumuru
Director: Lindsay Shonteff
Starring: Frankie Avalon, George Nader, Shirley Eaton, Wilfred Hyde White, Klaus Kinski, Maria Rohm
Music: Johnny Scott

Director, Lindsay Shonteff is singularly responsible for some of the worst spy films ever made, No 1 Licensed To Love And Kill readily springs to mind. And I am afraid The Million Eyes Of Sumuru does nothing to redeem Shonteff in the ‘million eyes’ of spy movie fans all over the world.

Maybe Shonteff isn’t solely to blame for The Million Eyes Of Sumuru. Producer Harry Alan Towers may have to share some of the burden. He is the man who bought us the sixties, Christopher Lee, series of Fu Manchu films. Some footage from the second Sumuru film (Seven Secrets Of Sumuru – AKA Future Women), featuring Shirley Eaton, mysteriously found its way into The Blood Of Fu Manchu. Apparently Miss Eaton was not happy about it, and who could blame her.

The film opens with a Chinese funeral procession. A group of young men march along behind the coffin, while on the side of the road, a girl watches on. Then we hear a voice-over from Sumuru herself (Shirley Eaton):

’This is the funeral of the richest man in the world…
These are his seventeen sons…
Soon they will share his fate…
Along with all other men who oppose my will…
The eyes of this girl are watching them…
As maybe, some other girl’s eyes are watching you…
I have a million eyes…
For I am Sumuru!’

A bomb goes off as the procession crosses a bridge and the seventeen sons are killed, and the titles roll.

Then we meet Sumuru in the flesh. She lives on an island with her own private army of women. But there is a problem with one of her disciples. One girl, operating out of Rome, has done the unthinkable – she has fallen in love! Sumuru decides to travel to Italy and ‘take care’ of the traitor personally. A voice over provides another piece of Sumuru’s manifesto:

’In the war against mankind, to achieve our aim, a world of peace and beauty ruled by women, we have but one weakness, which must be rooted out and destroyed…Love!’

We see these words put into action, when three women in black bikinis, drown a woman in a white bikini. So much for love!

Still in Rome, next we meet C.I.A. agent Nick West (George Nader). He is greeted by Sir Anthony Baisbrook (Wilfred Hyde-White), who works for H.M.G. (Her Majesty’s Government). It appears that the girl who was killed, is the secretary for the Syronesian Chief Of Security, Colonel Medika (Jon Fong). Sir Anthony seconds West into finding out who the killer is. Along for the ride is Tommy Carter (Frankie Avalon). Carter is not a swinging sixties secret agent. He’s just a spoiled dilettante with too much spare time. You see, his father left him eighteen million dollars – that’d do it!

West meets with Medika and they thrash out the path the investigation will take. But soon after the meeting, Medika is kidnapped by Sumuru’s agents, and West is left to solve the remainder of the puzzle, along with a little help from Carter, of course.

Sometimes when I jot down a synopsis, as I read back, I think ‘that doesn’t sound bad’. And Sumuru, on paper at least, has all the elements to make a great spy film. Unfortunately it is lumbered with poor dialogue, poor cinematography, and generally poor direction. There is an air of cynicism and perversion that pervades the whole film. You would expect a film that features a scantily clad all girl army, to be slightly erotic. Or at least a good perv, but this film features weird camera angles that make beautiful girls look distorted and ugly, and a script that forces them into acts of cruel violence, that make them unappealing. Even taking a feminist view, that it is a film about empowering women is undone by the cruelty.

So begs the question, why watch The Million Eyes Of Sumuru? I would suggest that you don’t, but if you had to, it would be for Shirley Eaton. Eaton was the Golden Girl from Goldfinger and her image, covered in gold paint, is indelibly burnt into the minds of sixties spy fans. Other than that, avoid at all costs.

4 Comments Posted in Film and Cinema
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  1. I respectfully puke on this review.

    You should watch this movie if you can watch any movie without a programmatic tape of modern pieties (“feminism,” “beauty,” “erotic”) looping in your head and narrowing your eyesight.

    I come back to “Sumuru” repeatedly precisely for its mix of perversion and breeziness. This is a movie that can barely avoid brushing the fourth wall and winking at itself. There’s a rushed, slapdash feel to the expository scenes that skewers the leadenness of explanatory scenes and pro-forma plot forwarding clogging the entire history of conventional cinema. And there’s a delightfully subversive feminist twist, if that legitimates art for you, in that the men are all leisurely and playful (even in jeopardy), whereas the women are deadly serious. The spirit of eros in this movie belongs with the men, and it is airy and droll as a result. And I’m sorry: for those of us who roll this way, there are few moments in movies sexier than when George Nader is stripped to the waist and chained in Sumur’s dungeon, and the archdomme herself is handing out the punishment (i.e. foreplay), with a skilled whip and then her nails. Jesus, there are fetish sites running this 15 seconds of film in a tribute (wank) loop at all hours.

    Anyway, if you can think a little widely on genre films, you’ll see there is much that is subversive and strange under the mere shenanigans in “Sumuru.” There is a corrosive look under the skirts of a revolutionary idealism (a matriarchal order); there is an anxious engagement with female sexuality (in this case yoked to a businesslike work ethos, recognizable to any guy jonesing for one of the controlled, out-of-reach corporate sirens in his workplace). There is a premonitory warning about American misadventures in the far east. Blah-da blah-da. Mostly, there’s a lot of fun watching this cock-eyed spy movie with a bunch of luscious she-devils, fast-flowing, quip-filled dialogue, and oh, lord, Shirley Eaton as a 50-foot woman of menace and style and cold, serpentine sex appeal.

    So there.

  2. Thanks for your comment Mike. Consider it puked on! I encourage discourse.

  3. Hello!
    I’m very interested in this is film!
    You can say where i can buy original 95 min version on this film?

  4. Good day!
    I am a big fan of this film and I am looking for an original director’s cut (full 95 mins) in good quality (I’ve been looking for it for a very long time)
    Could You please advise where I could buy it?
    Thanks a lot in advance
    Look forward to hearing from You soon
    Best Regards

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