The Girl From Rio (1969)

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RATING– ✮✮✮½

DIRECTOR– Jesus Franco

PLOT– An international thief (Richard Wyler) travels to Rio de Janeiro and teams up with a two-faced manicurist (Maria Rohm). Together, they take on an evil businessman (George Sanders), a gang of scary clowns, and an army of scantily clad women loyal to a mistress (Shirley Eaton) bent on world domination… and running an airline.

6 REASONS TO WATCH

  1. underarm hair
  2. urgent manicures
  3. organic non-GMO audio/video equipment
  4. the worst evil portrait artist in the world
  5. car chases that pause at stop signs
  6. women who plan to rule the world in topless KISS outfits

REVIEW– As the name The Girl From Rio somewhat implies, this movie is a James Bond rip-off. Complete with evil villains wanting to rule the world, secret agent womanizers, scantily clad dangerous ladies, and strange evil henchmen. The sets, locations, and costumes (or lack thereof) are all top-notch. Jess Franco even does one of his better jobs as director.

However, where the Bond films star engaging, charismatic actors like Sean Connery, Roger Moore, and Daniel Craig, the movie drops the ball with the acting. It’s fairly atrocious. The handsome thief/spy Jeff, played by Richard Wyler, has perfected the cool, snarky look… and absolutely nothing else. Anger? Nope. Surprise? Nope. Happiness? Nope. Any sort of emotion? Nope. He’s hopeless.

However, that should not be much of a deterrent to watching The Girl From Rio. It’s actually a fair bit of fun. There’s an incompetent, penthouse-with-a-pool-dwelling rich guy who’s scenes are quite entertaining. Being filmed in and around the city of Rio in Brazil adds an exotic flavor. There’s even a scene of Carnival (not quite as clever as 007’s Thunderball, but still a useful addition). Although the ending is rather clunky… mostly consisting of evil women running around a smoke-filled airport… it’s still 94 minutes of fun.

The Girl From Rio is simply an R rated Bond film without as large a budget… Nothing more, nothing less.

FAULTY FACTS– In the 1964 Ian Fleming penned film Goldfinger, she helped supervillain Auric Goldfinger cheat at cards – as any good henchperson does. But when Jill Masterson turned the tables on her boss and fell into 007’s arms, the bullion-obsessed baddie had her killed. His execution method? Painting her gold. Sean Connery’s Bond says afterward that she died of “skin asphyxiation”.
Clearly a fictional scenario, right?
It turns out that many people believed that the actress who played the part of this Bond girl died in real life because she was painted gold for this scene. This is the kind of urban legend that often flourished in the pre-internet era. It was harder to verify that the actress in question, Shirley Eaton, was in fact still alive, especially since she stopped acting and dropped out of the public eye shortly after Goldfinger was released. Could life have imitated art in such a literal way?
No.
She survived. You see, the actress who played Jill Masterson in Goldfinger is none other than the star of The Girl From Rio… Shirley Eaton.

Afterward, Ben also painted his erection gold.