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Stephen Boyd worked with only one director multiple times- and it happened to be Spanish director José Antonio Nieves during the 1970’s. Of all directors, I think José Antonio Nieves had a real sense of Stephen on screen (along with William Wyler,of course), and when filming Stephen he allowed him to be both quier, brooding and emotional in a way Stephen could never be in his early work. Because of being so attuned to Boyd, I think José Antonio Nieves directed Stephen in some of his best work – particularly “Marta” and “Casa Manchada”. Unfortunately many of Stephen’s movies with José Antonio Nieves are very hard to find, but they are out there. I particularly encourage people to get “Casa Manchada” on Amazon Spain! This is one of Stephen’s best roles- ever. Now, the movie is completely dubbed in Spanish, but this does not detract from Stephen’s performance. It was most likely filmed in 1974 or 1975. Stephen has shed the shaggy hair and western mustache for a very sophisticated look. He looks younger than he had in years and very handsome in the 1930’s outfits. The story revolves around Stephen, who plays Alvaro, and his male ancestors (also portrayed by Stephen in flashbacks) who all meet violent deaths at the hands of Spanish revolutionaries. The story is based on a novel by Emilio Romero. Alvaro is married, but falls in love with a girl Laura, played by Sara Lezana, who he finds mysteriously abandoned on his vast estate, Casa Manchada. (This plot line is similar to “Marta”). After carrying on this affair, his wife soon finds out, and banishes the girl, claiming back her husband. Alvaro is not pleased, but after his wife dies, he falls into a deep gloom. Only a distant relative, Rosa, played by the gorgeous Paula Senatore, can break his mood and he soon falls in love with her and they marry. But shortly thereafter, Alvaro meets his destiny – just like his ancestors – and dies at the hands of new revolutionaries. It is beautifully filmed, and the score is heart-wrenching. The wintry, dry Spanish scenery is equally impressive. According to IMDB ths movie was filmed in Cebreros, Ávila, Castilla y León, Balaeric Islands Spain . It is a very romantic movie, and maybe one of Stephen’s best romantic roles as his character tries to juggle three different relationships with women and confront his own dark destiny. His acting covers the gamut from pained, happy, brooding, in lust and in love, and once again, José Antonio Nieves does a beautiful job of filming all the actors with perfect lighting and angles. This film is a very quiet masterpiece.
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.
Stephen Boyd had the pleasure of filming The Caper of the Golden Bulls in Pamplona, Spain in the summer of 1966. Parts of the movie were actually filmed during the famous “Running of the Bulls”in July of that year, as this event plays a key part in the movie itself. This movie is a little corny, and the plot is of course a little unbelievable (hey, it’s a caper movie, ok!). But nevertheless, Stephen and his co-stars do the best they can with the material to make this a fun, enjoyable, popcorn movie. Obviously this was probably not the best way to display Stephen’s talent as an actor, but it was a high-profile, glamorous role. The producer of “The Oscar” Joseph E. Levine was so happy with Stephen’s performance that Stephen that he immediately recruited him for this role. The movie was based on a popular 1960’s caper novel by William P. McGivern. It involves a retired WWII pilot, Peter Churchman, who is living like Spain with a hidden past. He is seeing Grace, played by Yvette Mimieux, but gets involved with a former female entanglement named Angela, played by Giovanna Ralli, who basically blackmails him and his former compatriots into robbing the Bank of Pamplona to steal jewels. Churchman and his mates had previously been ‘good’ bank robbers in Germany, robbing enemy banks to make amends for a Cathedral they had bombed by mistake during the war. After much cajoling, Boyd gives into the blackmail and heads up the caper. The bank robbery itself revolves around the ‘Running with the Bulls’ and camouflaging efforts behind the Pamplona ‘gigantes’, and the successful robbing the bank with Boyd and his mates shirtless, with Boyd clearly being the only one who should be seen shirtless in this scene! Boyd seems to been truly enjoying the bachelor life at this point in his career during the making of this film. Gossip columnist Sheila Graham wrote about a mysterious Asian beauty Stephen was seen with during the beginning stages of Caper. He also seems to have been very fond of both of his beautiful co-stars Yvette Mimieux and especially Italian lovely Giovanna Ralli. There are also pictures of Stephen during this time with Spanish singer Mikaela, out on the town! Stephen himself described his action role in this light hearted action comedy as a Cary Grant-like part. Boyd looks super handsome, sleek and stylish in this film, making you wonder how great he would have been as James Bond. Boyd also still seems to be channeling his “Oscar” character Frankie Fane a little bit as Caper hero Peter Churchman.. Considering 60’s caper movies as a whole, this one is a gem and truly deserves a dvd or blu ray release! The only version I have been able to find is from an EP vhs with terrible sound. A cleaned up version with good sound and spectacular color would be wonderful to see! The soundtrack by Vic Mizzy is also delightful.
A very interesting article about Stephen Boyd from the Los Angeles Times in 1966 concerning what type of actor, or star, Boyd had become. Was he a star? Was he merely an actor? Essentially Boyd was a character actor in a leading man’s body.