Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, July 9, 2015


Shirley Eaton as the evil Sumuru
 THE MILLION EYES OF SUMURU (1967).  Director: Lindsay Shonteff.

 Back in the 1950s Sax Rohmer, the creator of Fu   Manchu, decided to start another series about a  mysterious master villainess named Sumuru.  There were five books in this series. I've only  read two of the five books so far, and they are  fun, if below the fiendish and suspenseful level  of the Fu Manchu novels. But they are all  masterpieces compared to this woeful film  adaptation. In this Sumuru (Shirley Eaton), like  in the books, wants to create a new golden world  via her female helpmates and doesn't care who  she has to kill to get it. Tommy Carter (Frankie  Avalon) and Nick West (George Nader) are  some kind of agents out to stop Sumuru from various plots and assassinations. Million Eyes is cheap and cheap-looking, but the worst problem is the approach, which is meant to be light, even tongue-in-cheek, like a sixties spy film, but instead comes off as stupid. The shame of it is that Eaton [Your Past is Showing] not only looks beautiful in her dark wig but gives an excellent performance, perfectly embodying Sumuru in a way that would probably have pleased Sax Rohmer. The less said about Frankie Avalon, who wandered in from a beach party movie, and  George Nader [Shannon] the better. Nader was capable of some excellent performances, such as in a sixth season episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, but he doesn't seem to have a clue as to how to play his role in a mish mosh like this. As in the novels, Sumuru has a habit of turning her enemies into stone. Wilfred Hyde-White adds a touch of class as Colonel Baisbrook and Klaus Kinski [Circus of Fear] is sort of fun as President Boong and his double. That same year James Coburn starred in In Like Flint, which was also about an all-female organization trying to take over the world. Maybe the screenwriter was a Sumuru fan.

Verdict: Both Sumuru and Sax Rohmer deserve better. Hell, even Frankie Avalon does! *1/2.

No comments: