Follows Dodgers from Spain- a Dodger ‘fan-atic’
by Herb Stein
The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 7, 1963
MADRID. – Stephen Boyd is the only actor we know working abroad who imports his own ball games. For some stars the Number One item requested from America when they’re on foreign locations is Dave Chasen’s chili. For Belfast-born Boyd, whose birthday was July 4 and who hopes to become an American citizen, baseball is more important than food.
Here he is in Las Matas, 16 miles from Madrid, on the mammoth set of the Roman Forum for Samuel Bronston’s “Fall of the Roman Empire” where from 2000 extras and players – gladiators, flagellantes, priests, trumpeters, mounted Praetorians, stilt-walkers, townsmen and townswomen, etc. – are being rehearsed for a Saturnalia celebration.
Suddenly, during a five minute break, a courier races across the set to where Boyd is sitting off-camera to watch director Tony Mann prepare and shoot the spectacle sequence.
Steve is not in this shot. The courier is not in the dress of the scene’s Second Century Roman period. He’s in sport shirt and slacks. He arrives breathlessly, clutching a newspaper as though it were his very life. He hands it to Boyd, exclaiming: “They win! They win!”
WIN ‘MAKES’ HIS DAY
The paper is the Rome Daily American, first to arrive in Madrid with the basebal results of the preceding day. Boyd grabs it, quickly scans the standings on the sports page, sees the results for himself. His day is made. The Dodgers (at that moment) are a few percentage points atop the heap.
“One of the things I miss most about California,” Steve told us, “are the Dodger games at Chavez Ravine. I’m a big Dodger fan-atic.” He said that twice a week Armed Forces Radio broadcasts games live from the States. “They don’t carry the night games. But we get the day games on Tuesday and Thursday nights. We hear them at night, of course because of the five hour difference between here and the East (eight hours ahead of the coast). You can’t get me out of my apartment those nights. I’m glued to the radio.”
The days he can’t hear the games, or misses AFRS score recaps, he must depend on the papers. He has a standing order for the first paper with the results to be rushed to him by “courier.”
TAPES OF GAMES
Boyd doesn’t confide his Dodger interest merely to results of the occasional AFRS coverage of the L.A. games. Steve’s friends frequently send him tapes of the Dodger games. “Those are the most eagerly awaited evenings, when the tapes arrive. I cancel any date. I sit backand listen to every word, hand on every pitch, hit, stricker, out, foul, cheer, boo – bell. I even enjoy the commercials. It doesn’t bother me a bit that the game is several days old or a week old – that I know the outcome. It’s as fresh live to me as though it were being played, that instant.”
He paused a moment, then asked: “Do you think the day’ll come when I’ll be able to get a kine and run the game on a screen at home? Wouldn’t that be sumpin’?”
That part is how one motion picture star, at least, spends much of his spare time during location shooting abroad. One Sundays and is rare days off, Boyd golfs.
While we sat with Boyd, Christopher Plummer (who plays Commodus in “Roman Empire”) was taking instructions from a javelin expert for a duel sequence with Boyd (Livius). Steve had taken lessons earlier.
Plummer said later: “It’s east once you learn it. You can make it as vicious as you like after you learn the basic steps.” The javelin fight expert is much like a choreographer and the staging is much similar to ballet. The javelins? The “steel” is rubber. “But in filming the fight, they won’t use synthetic rubber,” we were told,” We’re much to authentic for that – we’ll use real rubber.”
Boyd and Plummer rehearse the javelin duel in “Fall of the Roman Empire”
Stephen Boyd on the set of “Fall of the Roman Empire” enjoying a cigarette break.