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The Girl From Rio (Blue Underground) UHD/Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • The Girl From Rio (Blue Underground) UHD/Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Blue Underground
    Released on: September 26th, 2023.
    Director: Jess Franco
    Cast: Shirley Eaton, George Sanders, Richard Wyler, Maria Rohm
    Year: 1969
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Girl From Rio – Movie Review:

    Directed by the late, great Jess Franco in 1969, The Girl From Rio (also known Future Women and The Seven Secrets Of Sumuru) brings us, not surprisingly, to Rio. Here we meet Sunanda (Shirley Eaton), who is basically the same character from the first movie, Sumuru (the name was changed to avoid being sued by Rohmer's estate). Once again, she wants to put women in charge and will do whatever she needs to do in order to get men out of power.

    When a notorious thief named Jeff Sutton (Richard Wyler) shows up on her turf, she's intrigued, figuring she'll be able to rip him off and use his loot to fund her various missions. He just got away with a cool ten million in cash, and that money will go a long way. Before we get to that, however, Sutton checks into his hotel and hits the sheets with Leslye Manors (Maria Rohm) all while a local crime boss named Sir Masius (George Sanders) starts to put into motion his own plan to swipe Sutton's cash. More importantly, Masius also wants to get Sunanda out of the picture, as she's nothing but a thorn in his side. He knows Sutton could prove to be a useful tool here, and that Leslye just might be exactly what he needs to get away with all of this and swipe not just Sutton's cash, but Sununda's gold reserves as well.

    Made two years after the first film and with Franco at the helm, it's no surprise to note that this picture takes advantage of what was a rapid decline in censorship standards. As such, Franco's follow up to Lindsay Shonteff's earlier feature gives us all the sex and violence that the first picture could only hint at. The light, fluffy humor of that earlier film is tossed by the way side in favor of Franco doing what Franco does best - working out his own personal kinks through his art. As such, there's a considerably darker tone to this film, but not to its detriment. We still get things filtered through the same sort of comic book aesthetic that was commonplace in a lot of Franco's output from this time, but things are cleared geared towards a more adult audience.

    The production values here are decent, by Franco standards they're actually beyond decent, and the movie goes at a good clip even if it stuffer from logic gaps (as is typical of Franco movies, there are various cuts and some footage that might have helped fill in some of those gaps is absent from this version). From the location photograph to the costuming, the movie is remarkably colorful and the competent cinematography accentuates this nicely. There's a solid score here too, it helps to move the action along nicely.

    As to the cast? Again, the movie lights up whenever Eaton is on screen, but here again she's a bit underused. We'll take what we can get and we'll like it but she should have had more screen time as she works really well in the role. Maria Rohm, Towers' real life wife (and therefore the star of many of his pictures from this era) looks gorgeous here as well, and look for lovely Elisa Montes in a small role as one of Masius's accomplices. Sanders is fun as Masius and Wyler makes for a dashing male lead. Everyone in front of the camera does solid work here. Budgetary restraints do wreak havoc with some of the more ambitious action set pieces but most Franco fans won't be bothered by that, particularly when the movie entertains with as much hyper-sexualized efficiency as The Girl From Rio does.

    The Girl From Rio – Blu-ray Review:

    The HEVC encoded 2160p transfer, framed at 1.66.1 widescreen and featuring HDR10 and Dolby Vision enhancement, looks excellent. Colors really pop here but stop short of looking too hot or oversaturated. Skin tones look lifelike and realistic throughout and we get nice, deep black levels that avoid crush. There are no problems with any obvious compression artifacts, edge enhancement or noise reduction issues while detail is noticeably stronger than past Blu-ray editions as is depth and texture. There’s virtually no print damage here at all, the image is pretty much spotless, while the film’s natural grain is retained. This looks fantastic.

    The English language 24-bit DTS-HD Mono audio, which comes with subtitles in English SDH, French and Spanish, sounds very good. Audio is clean, clear and nicely balanced and there’s good depth as far as the soundtrack is concerned.

    Extras start off with a new audio commentary with Film Historians Nathaniel Thompson and Troy Howarth. They go over the distinctly Franco style opening shot and how it precedes Venus In Furs, how important Franco's aesthetic is to the film, the different intro that exists for the American version of the movie, details on the different cast members that pop up in the movie, how the actors do a decent job of elevating lesser material and how Franco is really the star of the movie, Franco's work with producer Harry Alan Towers, how 99 Women was spawned from this movie, how the movie compares to the Bond films that clearly influenced it, the film's distribution and plenty more.

    Rocking In Rio is a new interview with Stephen Thrower running a lengthy forty-one minutes. He talks about Franco's relationship with producer Harry Alan Towers and the work that they did together, the origins of the film and how it connects to The Million Eyes Of Su Muru and Sax Rohmer's writing, where Franco's career was at this time and what happened when Franco finished The Girl From Rio too quickly, details on the cast and crew as well as the score, thoughts on the characters in the movie and its plot, the hyper-pop elements of the movie and the film's questionable sexual politics.

    Carried over from the old DVD release is a featurette titled Rolling In Rio that runs fourteen minutes and is made up of interviews with director Jess Franco, producer Harry Alan Towers and leading lady Shirley Eaton. It's an interesting look back at the making of the movie which each of the three interviewees chiming in about their experiences working on the film.

    New to this release is a selection of ten minute’s worth of additional scenes taken from the German Version of the movie. In addition to alternate German language opening credits, which are quite different, we also get a selection of establishing scenes, dialogue sequences and more footage with the awesome all-woman army. The dialogue is all in German but English subtitles are provided.

    There's also six minutes of 'trims' included here. Essentially, while Blue Underground was going through the materials to create the new transfer, they discovered a 35mm reel labelled 'trims' which they've inluded here. There's no audio and most of this stuff is pretty minor but there's a bit of bonus nudity included and some neat snippets from the opening scene amongst other assorted bits and pieces - the most surprising of which looks like a clip from a Godzilla movie?

    Finishing up the extras is a poster and still gallery and the inclusion of the seventy-eight minute RiffTrax edition, which features Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy riffing on the movie MST3K style.

    The Girl From Rio - The Final Word:

    The Girl From Rio isn’t peak Franco but it’s a fun watch with some great eye candy and memorable performances set to a swanky soundtrack. Blue Underground’s UHD/Blu-ray combo release gives the film a gorgeous presentation on a disc stacked with some interesting extras. Recommended for Franco fans!



    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized The Girl From Rio Blu-ray screen caps!

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