Stephen Boyd and Clark Gable

At the start of Stephen Boyd’s Hollywood career, he was quickly compared to the legendary Clark Gable as a handsome, tough heart-breaker on the big screen. Gable himself had started out in villain roles then proceeded to become the King of Hollywood,  starring as the witty, masculine and charismatic Rhett Butler in 1939’s “Gone with the Wind”. Advertiser’s for both “The Night Heaven Fell” in 1958 and “Woman Obsessed” and 1959 tag-lined Stephen as “The Young New Clark Gable” or simply just “the New Gable”. Even Hedda Hopper liked to compare Boyd to Gable, and Boyd himself agreed modestly that some of the Gable type roles would have suited him as well. These comparisons faded, obviously, after Boyd’s career took a different path. He did not become the next Clark Gable in Hollywood. But the comparison is still intriguing. In fact, in one of Stephen’s later movies “Slaves” in 1969, Boyd resembles Gable’s Rhett Butler more than ever in his looks with his debonair mustache and 19th century Southern gentleman’s wardrobe!

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QUOTES ABOUT BOYD AND GABLE

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When I told him I thought of him as the new Clark Gable of this era, although a far more vital type than Gable, he (Boyd)  shook his head, puzzled: “It’s difficult to associate myself along those lines,” he said. “But I daresay the roles Gable has played are roles I’m suited for. I prefer a two line part with genuine character to an innocuous one such as I had in ‘Woman Obsessed’…after I read a story I ask myself whom do I remember. That is the part that will be remembered on screen. I’d like to try some kinds of roles Arthur Kennedy plays- something with guts and vitality. (Pittsburgh Press, Hedda Hopper Interview, Jan 31, 1960)

Charlton Heston as “Ben-Hur” gives a performance of  utmost convection and sincerity, while Stephen Boyd as “Messala” brings to the screen one of the most vital portrayals since Gable’s Rhett Butler. (Pittsburgh Press,  Jan 20, 1960)

Clark Gable couldn’t love the billing Stephen Boyd gets in the Brigitte Bardot picture, “The Night Heaven Fell.” The advertising refers to Steve as “The Young New Clark Gable…”  (Anderson Daily Bulletin, Aug 12, 1958)

He (Boyd) thinks their nuts when they call him “another Gable.” (Modern Screen, June 1960)

Asked once how it felt to be labeled Hollywood’s biggest sexboat since Gable in his prime, Steve replied, with a slightly forlorn look, “I’d rather be known as a good actor. Sexboats recede with their hairlines, but actors get better and better.” (Unknown clipping, 1960)

PROMOTIONAL ADVERTISING ABOUT BOYD AS THE NEW GABLE

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An interesting newspaper clipping from 1969 that happens to shows Boyd’s Nathan McKay from “Slaves” and Clark Gable’s Rhett Butler from “Gone with the Wind” on the same page. It is striking how similar they look in these two movies. (Terre Haute Tribune, Aug 24, 1969)

Part 4. “The Fall of the Roman Empire” by Harry Whittington – Livius in a Storm

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The storm hung suspended above the earth, growling, flashing in livid white from black clouds ready to burst as night came.

Livius walked along through the encampment, glad for the early darkness over the face of the world. The soldiery, auxiliaries, the wings, the visiting dignitaries were all withdrawn to their quarters. Pale lights glowed across the castra, but Livius kept himself to the shadows.

He could not remember ever having felt so lonely, so abandoned. he felt the hot flush of shame crawl across his face, even in the chill wind. The emperor had silently rebuked him before the whole Northern Army, and gods knew he deserved it.

Lightening flared, but he strode on, wincing against its fire, but not slowing, not seeking shelter. The gods hadn’t yet created a storm to match the one going on inside himself.

How in the name of the gods had the good Aurelius ever considered him capable of administering the affairs of the civilized world? And worse, how could he even secretly have tried on that purple toga for size? What a stupid fool to imagine himself ready in the least way to replace the godly Aurelius. What did he know of the troubles of the empire, the commerce, the industry, the treasury, the building, the political dealings with the senate and the magistrates of all the provinces? He was no statesman, only a soldier, and he had proved to the world today, not even a very disciplined one. He walked faster, as if trying to escape his own hounding thoughts. He heard the sentinels on duty, but he moved past without glancing toward them. He heard the enlisted men off duty yelling and arguing, perhaps drunk on their sour wine. He did not slow his steps. He found a broken javelin. He paused, knelt, picked it up and walked again, holding it in his fist. It seemed to him this weapon was itself a symbol of the men who made the Roman army great. Marius had joined the metal point of the javelin to the shaft with a wooden pin that snapped when the hurled javelin struck; Julius Caesar had made the head, except for the point, of soft iron that bent on impact of a blow. Javelins used by Roman soldiers could never be used against them. These men had made such inspiring contributions to the army and the profession of warfare. What had he done?

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He swore back at the raging thunder. Much about the present day army distressed him, but he had no answers. It seemed to him the centurions had too much responsibility and authority, and they abused it. Still, Julius Caesar had taught that the centurion was responsible for discipline, and you could not weaken their power over their men. But sometimes the brutality and immorality of these petty officers sickened him. He had seen men flogged almost to death for misdemeanors. Men of the ranks had to bribe the centurions to avoid floggings, avoid extra duties, to get any privileges. Centurions had come to count on bribes as part of their income. and some of them became inhumanly cruel and vicious. He had no answers even for such a minor, yet far-reaching problem. He had been a fool to consider for one drunken moment the possibility of his becoming Caesar of the empire. The gods forgive him.

Livius flung his head back, staring at the storm-riven sky, needing to be purged of ambition,  vanity.

A metallic flash of lightening suddenly stood the encampment watchtower in stark relief against storm-torn sky.

Livius, gazing at the structure, caught his breath. At first he thought it was a hallucination, a need for his own anguished mind in his loneliness. Lucilla stood alone on the lower platform, as alone as he in the night storm.

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During the filming of “Shalako”, Brigitte Bardot and Stephen Boyd enjoy taking pictures–of each other!

In early 1968, Stephen Boyd and Brigitte Bardot were quite enamored with each other during the making of “Shalako”. The pair had become good friends back in 1957 while filming “The Night Heaven Fell”, and had meet at least twice since, once in 1960 in Paris and also in London during 1961. In 1969, a journalist teased Stephen that he never met up with BB between husbands! 

Steve Boyd is one of the nicest leading men in the industry. I’ve never known him to be anything but gentlemanly (darn it!) Recently, I asked him if his romance with Brigutte Bardot was real. “She is a lovely woman, but she is married. I’ve known her for many years, and she has always been married, not to the same man, however.” Steve, how come you play it safe and never meet up with her between marriages, hmmmm? (Detroit Free Press, July 27, 1969)

Nevertheless, now that the two actors were older, somehow the chemistry mix between them was just right. The vulnerable and emotional Bardot, on the brink of another divorce, this time with German millionaire Günther Sachs, was in need of a protective, friendly, warm, gentle shoulder to lean on and Stephen, of course, stepped into that role perfectly. Around the set of Shalako they became virtually inseparable. The photos below show a glimpse of their special personal chemistry and what Shalako producer Euan Lloyd called a “great friendship”.

For more about Brigitte and Stephen, see https://stephenboydblog.com/stephen-boyd-and-brigitte-bardot/

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“Bardot by Boyd….”Boyd by Bardot”

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