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  Face of Eve, The Amazon Of The Amazon
Year: 1968
Director: Robert Lynn, Jeremy Summers
Stars: Celeste Yarnall, Robert Walker Jr, Herbert Lom, Christopher Lee, Fred Clark, Rosenda Monteros, Maria Rohm, José María Caffarel, Ricardo Diaz, Vicente Roca, Nieves Salcedo, Jeremy Walker Jr
Genre: AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Eve (Celeste Yarnall) was abandoned in the Amazon jungle when she was a little girl, and ever since has lived in harmony with nature, or at least in harmony with her pet parrot and monkey, who she stays with in a cave high up a cliff, high enough so that nobody bothers her, especially not the tribe of cannibals who exist locally. However, one day in her twentieth year she is witness to a light aircraft crashing into the trees, and this even will bring her closer to civilisation than she has ever been before for the best friend of the pilot is Mike Yates (Robert Walker Jr), and he is determined to find his lost buddy - but will find the legendary Eve instead.

Ever since Edgar Rice Burroughs dreamt up Tarzan, the Lord of the Jungle, a white primitive who stays in the middle of the African forests and has a bunch of adventures, there have been pretenders to his throne. Not so threatening that they came anywhere near his pop culture iconic success, but one strain of this phenomenon saw some bright spark think, wait a minute, if we can have a male character getting up to all these shenanigans, how about a female one instead? And so there arrived on the scene, well, not Eve but Sheena, star of comics and a popular television serial as seen in the nineteen-fifties. Copyright be damned, there were many imitators, after all Sheena was essentially a rip-off herself.

Eve was producer Harry Alan Towers' entry in this cycle which as time went by would not be content to place the heroine of choice in an animal skin bikini, but often depict her out of it as well, but there was no nudity in this yarn, just model and actress Celeste Yarnall looking very athletic as she advanced around the jungle (as noted, South American rather than African, so completely different from Tarzan, obviously). Actually, for a long stretch of the running time Eve didn't appear at all, rather squandering the movie's best asset as she was sidelined in favour of a subplot about her grandfather (Christopher Lee in unconvincing old age makeup) who was still alive but refused to believe Yates had seen her on his excursion.

This was because his granddaughter was already with him, ah, but what he didn't know was that she was in reality an imposter called Conchita (Rosenda Monteros in an unconvincing blonde wig) who was in cahoots with the old geezer's business partner Diego (Herbert Lom with a moustache that was, you guessed it, unconvincing). When they both find out that he doesn't have the fortune that he claimed he has, and his only hope of leaving a substantial inheritance would be to rediscover his fortune in gemstones that he carelessly left lying around the jungle somewhere, they ditch him and go looking for it before anyone else can. Re-enter Yates, who promises to the grandfather that he can get back both the real Eve and all that treasure into the bargain.

As Yates, Walker Jr demonstrated why he-man roles were not his forte (he would be best recalled for his great turn as the whiny but deadly teen psychic Charlie X on an early Star Trek episode), but at least we could understand why Eve responds to him because he conveyed a decency that almost made up for his lack of macho stylings. The typical Towers trappings were there, the exotic but cheap locations, the nightclub scene with the dancers to pad out the narrative, his wife Maria Rohm given a part to play (here a singer who continues to trill even as a massive brawl is going on around her, apparently because Towers wanted to play her song in full), and more than ever those stock thriller situations that served him so well; why yes, he did write the script too. Although it was in the tradition of Tarzan, the sequences with the natives looked forward to one of the least lovely horror subgenres, the bloodthirsty cannibal shocker as though this did not get too gory, those tribesmen (no women are there to be seen) do look about to be getting vicious and deeply unpleasant at any time. What this needed was for Eve to be the focus, but too often that wasn't the case, which did make her appearance in her bust-enhancing jungle wear the highlights in a film that wasn't sure what to do with her. Music, heavy on the bongos, by Malcolm Lockyer.

[The British Film line from Network release this rarity on DVD in a restored print (apart from the opening credits, seemingly) and a gallery as an extra.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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