Barbara Bouchet as Irene Stone "Stoney". Uses her "assets" to get some pull with the local authorities.
Stoney or (The Surabaya Conspiracy) marks Barbara Bouchet's first starring role. She plays Irene Stone, a woman who travels to war torn Surabaya, Philippines with the hope of recovering a wealth of treasure hidden in a vault under the town Commissioner's swimming pool. Made during the time period in American B-movie history where it was extremely popular to make films in the Philippines (because it was so cheap) Stoney suffers from a story so full of plot holes it might as well be called Swiss cheese.
The great treasure map, showing the vault already pre-rigged with dynamite.
I've seen plenty of low budget films and watched my fair share of stinkers but Stoney certainly takes the cake as one of the worst. There are so many continuity and plot issues it's impossible to keep track of what's going on, and when the writers attempt to provide any sort of explanation it only adds to the growing confusion. How did this treasure end up under the Commissioner's swimming pool? How come everyone seems to know about it except him? While the film addresses how to access the treasure, Irene never seems to be to that intent on actually recovering it, while she sets up the transports for it under the guise of exporting tea it's never indicated whose actually going to retrieve it for her. And why was there dynamite already setup under the pool inside the vault, it's even indicated on their "treasure map".
Blessing attempts to warn Stoney to leave the treasure alone.
Character relationships also make absolutely no sense in Stoney. In the beginning of the film some form of relationship is insinuated between Irene and Harvey Ward (Michael Rennie), the supposed mastermind behind the plan to recover the treasure. Ward's the one who tells her about it, and indicates the ring he gave her is the key to the vault. He says it would be too suspicious if he went to recover it so she offers to go, but he says she's too important to him; the next scene she's on a plane to Surabaya! Did I miss something? Michael Preston plays an Aussie by the name of Steven Blessing who seems to be covertly working against Ward, who's a good friend of the Commissioner, but is also interested in stealing the treasure so how good of a friend is he? Irene seems to be completely disgusted with Blessing most of the film, then all of a sudden out of the blue sleeps with him! Never an indication why the change of heart.
Stoney having a witty conversation about the Boogeyman with Blessing prior to attending a tour of the tea factory with the Commissioner, which occurs on the DVD before her supposedly meeting with him.
On-top of the story, the editing is so awful that half the scenes on the DVD release are not even in the right order! I'm not certain whether this is how this version of the film was actually released in the USA and the studio producing the DVD didn't bother fixing it, or they simply messed up. About 15 minutes into the film when Irene arrives to Surabaya she goes to introduce herself to the Commissioner and ask for his assistance in transporting tea (which is a cover). Her meeting with the Commissioner and the 20 or so minutes that follows show up more than halfway into the film. So when you're watching the DVD version the film seems to jump ahead for no apparent reason to Irene and the Commissioner visiting the tea plant and then 45 minutes into the film she's meeting the Commissioner for the first time. I watched two versions of this film, the original version (on VHS), entitled The Surabaya Conspiracy, this issue isn't present. Ironically it didn't make the film any more intelligible, proving that when a script is so poorly written you can scramble all the scenes up and it really makes no difference!
Barbara Bouchet obligatory shower scene.
Overall, there's no sugar coating how horrible Stoney is. I've come to expect low budget, bad acting, and outlandish story-lines from B-movies, but when the story is non-cohesive it ruins any enjoyment that's to be had. It's a shame because there definitely was potential here, and considering the film is based off a book it's baffling that the writers couldn't do a better job than this when the whole story was already laid out for them. The one, and only silver lining in this film, and the reason I gave it the high of I did is Barbara Bouchet. Stoney is definitely a Barbara Bouchet fans only film, the fact she has a starring role a is on screen a majority of the time is the only thing that makes sitting through this worth it, and I actually sit through it twice! Still even though it is a complete mess it's better than watching any of the Shirley MacLaine movies she was in for a few seconds.