Stephen Boyd and Françoise Dorléac in “Genghis Khan” 1965

One of my favorite Stephen Boyd co-stars is the mysterious and charming Françoise Dorléac. She was the elder sister of French actress Catherine Denueve (They starred jointly in “The Young Girls of Rochefort”). Françoise was the initial star of the pair, and she herself was featured in a handful of films, but she was very memorable in each one. She was in a great action-comedy called “The Man from Rio” with Jean-Paul Belondo, a Truffant drama called ‘Soft Skin’, one of the Harry Palmer Michael Caine spy movies called ‘Billion Dollar Brain’, a spy spoof with David Niven, and the brilliant Roman Polanski film ‘Cul De Sac’ with Donald Pleasance.  But as a major international release, ‘Genghis Khan’ with Omar Sharif and Stephen Boyd was an important movie for her. In the film, sporting luscious blond bangs, she plays a Mongolian princess Bortei. (I know, she is not remotely Asian, nor is anyone else in this movie, which makes it so quirky!). She does a marvelous job as the strong-willed yet still vulnerable beauty who comes between Boyd, the ruthless villain Jamuga, and Sharif, who plays the ‘hero’ as the quite reformed Genghis Khan. Jamuga’s abduction of Bortei and the subsequent chase, fight and rape scene across the fur carpets of his Mongolian yurt, with Dorléac kicking and gasping, is a brutal but very memorable scene. Jamuga is definitely one of Boyd’s most entertaining and ruthless screen villains, and as Bortei bears his son, it makes for even more drama later in the film between Jamuga (Boyd) and Genghis Khan (Sharif).

Sadly, Françoise Dorléac died in a gruesome car accident in the south of France at the age of 25, cutting short what could have been a most fascinating career. She has been staying with her sister Catherine Denueve in St. Tropez, and on a rainy morning, June 26, 1967. she took off in her blue Renault with her pet Chihuahua. She was trying to catch a plane in Nice, and she was late. Her car skidded on the rainy road and crashed into a cement pole, instantly bursting into flames. A witness saw her struggling and tried to help, but the flames engulfed the car and she burned to death. It took 2 hours for the rescue unit to get her body out of the vehicle.  This year, 2017, will have been 50 years since her death.

Here as some pictures of Françoise Dorléac with Stephen Boyd and Omar Sharif in the very entertaining movie ‘Genghis Khan’ from 1965.

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Stephen Boyd talks about Doris Day

I dug out a few comments from Stephen concerning his charming “Jumbo” co-star from 1962. From an interview in the Ottawa Citizen that year, Stephen startled the interviewer by saying that Doris Day was the most exciting and sexy actress he’s worked with up until that time.

“Doris has a beautiful figure and a wonderful mouth and eyes. She dresses beautifully and she’s full of life…I never enjoyed making a picture so much in my life as with Doris. ” (Joe Hyams interview, October 29, 1962)

“I’m amazed at her versatility,” he says,”I think Doris could do any kind of drama as well as if not better than an anyone else I’ve ever worked with. She gives so much! I get on well,too, with her husband, Marty Melcher, who visits the set occasionally.” (‘Liz Taylor’s First Mark Anthony’, Hedda Hopper Interviews Stephen Boyd, June 17, 1962)

“I love Doris Day, ” he said. “Doris is not considered a sex symbol, but what a woman!” He was still talking about her when I left 20 minutes later. (Louella Parsons interview, ‘A Boyd on a Gilded Stage’, March 1964)

“I will say, for example, that Doris Day is not the girl next door, as many may believe. In fact, she’s anything but. She’s a movie star down to her twinkly toes, with all the aura, the magnetism, and the sex appeal that go with it.” (Stephen Boyd Interview By Florabel Muir, Valley Morning Star, September 18, 1966 https://wordpress.com/post/stephenboydblog.com/1860)

Apparently his admiration was reciprocated in kind, and for a while there was a romance rumor swirling about concerning Boyd and Day.  According the gossip columnist Earl Wilson, this is what happened on the set of “Jumbo”.

It started when Doris- seldom interested in love scenes- enjoyed rehearsing the kissing clinches with Steve, then insisted on more and MORE rehearsals…I checked the love scene rumor with Producer Jose Pasternak who said, “Yes, when the director said ‘Cut’ during a kiss, they didn’t cut!” (Dec 6, 1962, Earl Wilson Reports)

Even the below movie add in February of 1963 was trying to capitalize on the rumor!

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Even though Boyd had nothing for admiration for his co-star, concerning the romance rumors, Boyd has this to say –  “Flabbergasted”, said Stephen Boyd when besieged by reported in London over the linking of his name with Doris Day’s, “It’s so false and ridiculous I have no words.” (Anderson Daily Bulletin, December 5, 1962)

Nevertheless, the two remained friendly, which can be seen here from a photo taken about 4 years later in 1966.

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Stephen Boyd longs to make pictures in Hollywood itself, 1964

Boyd Gets Few Films in U.S.

Dec 20, 1964, The Baltimore Sun

Hollywood – Stephen Boyd is hoping the third time is the charm that will break the bone he always had to pick with Hollywood.

The rugged actor is referring to the fact that his next picture, “Fantastic Voyage,” marks only the third time he has worked in Hollywood.

He loves the place, the motion picture industry and most of the people in it. But the trouble is, he doesn’t get much chance to work in Hollywood.

Steve recently had returned from filming ‘Genghis Khan’ in Yugoslavia, England and Germany. He was there one week- long enough to confer with producer Saul David and Director Richard Fleischer. Whambo! He was off again to Italy for a week to make a cameo appearance in “The Bible.”

TOP SECRET ROLE

Boyd will return to Hollywood in time to start his top secret role in the top secret “Fantastic Voyage,” to which he is sworn to secrecy except, to say that it will  be the most expensive science fiction story ever filmed – and the most unique.

“I want to make more films in Hollywood,” is his simple plaint, “I’ve become an American citizen. I’ve bought two homes here. I’d like a chance to enjoy them and my many friends. But I keep getting assignments abroad.

“I’ve made eighteen pictures since’ The Man Who Never Was,’ from which Darry F. Zanuck signed me for a long term contract, in 1956.

“’Fantastic Voyage’ will be only the third film I have made wholly in Hollywood – and that’s a pretty low average.”

“Once, in 1958, I was rushed from Europe to Hollywood to do ‘The Bravados,’” recalled Boyd. “I thought at least I’ll make a picture in Hollywood. But it was filmed entirely in Mexico. I’d come back from South of the Border for three days when they sent me to Italy to do ‘Ben-Hur’ for another eight months.”

His only two previous Hollywood-based films were ‘The Best of Everything’ and ‘Jumbo.’

“I was about ready to sell my California homes,” Boyd said, “when along came ‘The Fantastic Voyage.’ I’m hoping producers mean it when they say they’ll be less runaway pictures.

“It’s frustrating in another way, always working abroad,” said Boyd. “That little black book isn’t much good by the time I get back from long European locations. The girls I knew have married or are going steady with someone else, I have to start all over again.

“For a guy who loves home, hearth and California girls, this making films every place but Hollywood isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. I’m an American now, and I’d like to continue making pictures in America.”

Filming the English version of “The Night Heaven Fell”, 1957

This is a fascinating article about the filming of “The Night Heaven Fell” in August of 1957. Despite what this article implies, this movie was released in the U.S.A. in 1958, but it was considered X rated (for adults only).  I would love to get my hands on the English Language version of this film, not only to hear Stephen Boyd’s actual voice but to also see any differences from the French version. If anyone has a clue where a copy might be, let me know!!

Hollywood in Madrid

“Columbia Movie Not for U.S.”

By Joe Hyams

Orlando Sentinal, August 30, 1957

MADRID – The other day we visited the set of The Moonlight Jewelers, a film being made in French and English for release by Columbia pictures.

The film stars Brigitte Bardot, Alida Valli and Stephen Boyd and, while it is being filmed in English, it is unlikely that American audiences will see it, because there are too many censorable elements.

In a two-minute scene we watched being filmed, Miss Bardot appears nude from the back. When she drapes a mantilla over her, she displays her thigh. Boyd kisses her on the bare shoulder while they are sitting on a bed. All this is frowned upon by Hollywood censors which we called to the attention of Raoul Levy, the producer.

“So?” asked Levy. So why make the film in English at all if it won’t be seen in America? we asked.

“The fact is the English version is for the Far East, Australia and South America –but not for North America,” said Levy.  “Also, we are making an English version because Peter Viertel, who worked on the screen play in French, said it would be east to adapt to English. And Alida Valli speaks better English than French, and Stephen Boyd, who’s Irish, doesn’t speak French at all and had to learn it as he went along.”

Vadim, the director and about-to-be ex-husband of Miss Bardot, told us that directing a film in two languages was a novel experience for him. “I found that every scene about charm and love is played better in French,” he said, “In scenes where you need strength and humor, English is better.”

Despite its censorable aspects The Moonlight Jewelers is being financed by Columbia, an American film company, and therefore is technically an American film. The original budget was $750,000, but with the recent devaluation of the French franc it is now budgeted at $600,000.

The film is typical of many being made in Europe today by American film companies because it has a truly international cast and crew. The producer, Mr. Levy, is Belgian, Miss Bardot is French, Miss Valli is Italian, Mr. Boyd is Irish, and Vadim, the director, is Russian. An American wrote the screen play based on a French novel, and the film crew is a polyglot of many nationalities including American, French and Spanish.

For the English version, the director shouts “Action!” For the French he shouts “Moteur!” To stop the action in English, he says “Cut” and in French he says “Coupe.” Instructions to the actors are given in their own language. The crew is given instructions in either French or Spanish, and it is safe to say that half the time the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.

Photos below by Peter Basch