The Million Eyes of Sumuru (1967)

*. Frankie Avalon in a spy comedy released by American International. It’s 1967 and you’re probably wondering if this might be another Dr. Goldfoot movie.
*. It’s not just Avalon. The arch-villain Sumuru’s plot for global domination is actually quite similar to Dr. Goldfoot’s. She’s going to send her sexy agents out to seduce and marry the world’s wealthiest and most powerful men, making her the power behind their thrones. That’s the plot of Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine, and I guess it makes as much sense, or perhaps even more, than most of these plans for global domination.
*. Alas, her plans are undone by the weakness all women (even supervillains like herself) have for men, their near perverse need to be dominated by mojotastic hunks like George Nader. Sure they may enjoy the thought of running the world, but they’re still women and so feel the need to be dominated.

*. As far as gender politics go this is even more regressive than the brainwashed fembots of spy spoofs from Flint to Austin Powers. Nevertheless, in 1967 it was what they had to work with. And given Sumuru’s plot it at least makes sense that her recruits are all supermodels. The midriff-baring uniforms, however, attract attention the gang might not be seeking.
*. The character of Sumuru actually has a history. She was the creation of novelist Sax Rohmer, who wanted to have a female Fu Manchu (his better known franchise villain). He wrote five Sumuru books but I haven’t read any of them. In fact, I’d never heard of Sumuru before seeing this movie, though Shirley Eaton would return to play her again in The Girl from Rio (1969) and there would be another 2003 SF Sumuru film out of Germany.
*. The other connection to Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine is that this is a buddy spy movie. Most spies are loners: Bond, Palmer, Flint, et al. But in Bikini Machine Avalon was paired up with one of Dr. Goldfoot’s prospective victims and here Avalon is teamed with fellow agent Nader. Tommy Carter and Nick West, if you please.
*. Things were rolling along rather predictably I thought until you-know-who arrives. Mr. Klaus Kinski. The one guy who can steal every scene he’s in no matter what the role. Here he saunters on screen wearing a silk dressing gown and manages to take over the proceedings completely despite some awful voice dubbing. How I would have loved to have heard him play it in his own voice (who knows what sort of accent President Boong would have?), and with some of the gimmicks he’d proposed (including an extra-long tongue). As it is all we get is that robe and, later, a terrific wig.
*. Eaton is sort of colourless as Sumuru. Apparently a role she enjoyed, while admitting these were bad movies. Wilfrid Hyde-White shows up just to move things along. There’s an interesting weapon called a “cube amortis gun” that turns people into statues.
*. Despite the fact that they actually spent some money on this one (not a lot, but some) I found the results kind of baffling. There’s some production value, but also more of a porny flavour of exploitation about it. The poster art proclaims “She rules a palace of pleasure,” but does she? It also seems to be a comedy or spoof, but the joking of Avalon and Nader feel out of place.
*. It’s hard to say how to take this one. It’s both offbeat and generic. Most of it is very bad but some parts are fun. At 79 minutes at least it doesn’t drag until the final shootout. What it really needed though was more Kinski.

4 thoughts on “The Million Eyes of Sumuru (1967)

  1. tensecondsfromnow

    I’ve been wondering about Kinski, and whether cancel culture will ever catch up with him. Obviously there’s a switl of negative personal information, but it just seems to bounce off Kinski, and his image, and bug-eyed face, still crop everywhere despite a fairly undisputed crime-sheet. This films sounds….disposable, although a female Fu manchu was always on the cards; the films always give his daughter a big role (Fu Manchu, not Kinski).

    1. Alex Good

      I wonder how much longer cancel culture has to run. I think Klaus Kinski was such a live wire he sort of sails by. I was watching Kevin Spacey in something this week and wondering if he’s ever going to make it back.


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