Stephen Boyd, Marlon Brando and Anna Kashfi

Stephen Boyd was compared to Marlon Brando early on in his career as an upcoming, masculine, rugged-type actor. Although Stephen never considered himself a method actor like Brando, he had nothing but high praise for who he considered hands down the best American actor.

Boyd and Brando

Asked whom he considered America’s finest actor, Boyd didn’t hesitate. “Marlon Brando, without doubt,” he said.
“America has never produced a talent like that, and I wonder whether it ever will again.
“I’ll tell you one interesting sidelight about him : If he invited you over for a drink, you’d often end up in some sort of impromptu drama class.
“You’d be sitting there with a drink talking about something someone said to you, or some incident that happened, and he’d say – ‘Hey, let’s play that as a scene, just for laughs;’
“He does that a lot with friends, and they turn out the performances of their lives for each other.
“Marlon told me not too long ago that his next film will be his last – and his best.
“‘It’ll be my 100 percent,’ he said.
“And you know what ? I believe him.
“There is no other actor in America that even comes near to touching his shoelaces.”

http://leglatin.pagesperso-orange.fr/boyd/boyde.htm,  Stephen Boyd Reveals Offscreen Personalities Of Top Stars by Chris Pritchard (National Enquirer)

It’s also interesting to note that Stephen’s own favorite stage performance as Stanley in “A Streetcar Named Desire” on the British stage was of course the role made famous on the screen by Brando in 1951.

Stephen also happened to briefly date Marlon Brando’s ex-wife Anna Kashi immediately after her divorce from Brando in 1960.  Anna was a mysterious looking beauty born in India and raised in Wales. Unfortunately I have been unable to find a photo of Stephen and Anna together, but there are several news snippets about the pair at that time.

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“Stephen Boyd finds both Anna Kashfi and British Actress Elizabeth Mills very attractive. But it was Elizabeth whose hand Boyd was holding after dinner.” (January 11, 1960 by Louella Parsons. Yes, this is Stephen’s personal secretary and close friend Liz Mills! Interesting point made by Louella. Liz is rarely mentioned in any other news snips during the 1960’s)

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Boyd with Liz Mills in the early 1960’s

“Her (Anna’s) first date in her new freedom will be Stephen Boyd.”  (Jan 30, 1960 by Harrison Carroll)

“Marlon Brando’s ex, Anna Kashfi, is dating Stephen (“Ben Hur”) Boyd. (Feb 5, 1960 by Earl Wilson)

“Anna Kashfi and Stephen Boyd, who usually seek out the quieter places for their dates, and eye-catching duo at dinner at “Chasen’s” (Feb 6, 1960 by Louella Parsons)

“At La Scala, Anna Kashfi and writer producet Alan Reisner were having an Italian dinner. The the next booth, Elana Eden and Stephen Boyd were eating spaghetti. Stephen, remember, sometimes dates Anna.” ( Mar 8, 1960, by Louella Parsons)

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Stephen and Elana Eden

“Stephen Boyd slammed a car door on his right hand, broke his index finger. And speaking of Boyd, his favorite date, Anna Kashfi, is feeling much better. She was able to attend a special showing at MGM of “Ben Hur,” in which Stephen plays Messala” (March 10, 1960 by Hal Boyle)

“The ex-Mrs. Brando (Anna Kashfi) has become Stephen (Ben Hur) Boyd’s favorite date. (March 19, 1960 by Erskine Johnson)

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There was a while that his friendship with exotic and excitable Anna Kashfi waxed hot and promising. While it lasted – and while presumably, Steve felt the numbers were right – Steve enjoyed it, and wasn’t even coy about discussing it.

“I wouldn’t say this is a romance,” he fenced only slightly, ” but then it might be construed as a romance. I’m very fond of Anna. She’s a wonderful girl and we’re very good friends. This is not a publicity thing where I’m saying this, nothing of the sort. I like Anna and she likes me. We are good friends, but romantically I don’t know.”

His indecision was but another manifestation of his abiding conviction that love is a numbers game.

“Anna is fun to be with,” Steve continued with a grin. “She’s intelligent and she’s quite a conversationalist. She’s a little bit kookie, but intelligent. She’s eccentric in some of her sayings and in some of her thoughts, but don’t ask me for specifics. I don’t like specifics because I would only give a specific to you as I see her now. Tomorrow if you ask the same question I’d have to give you something else.” (“Stephen Boyd, Love Gambler” from Screenland, November 1960)

I am sure Stephen Boyd got to hear from interesting Brando stories from Anna at the time of her tumultuous divorce!

 

A match made in hell apparently! Brando and Kashfi. 

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Boyd in early 1960- around the time her was dating Anna Kashfi. Here Stephen is seen prepping for “To the Sound of Trumpets” for Playhouse 90 TV which aired in February 1960.

Boyd looking “Brando-esque” – brooding in white t-shirts from “Lisa” and “The Oscar”

Stephen Boyd in Westerns: “The Man Called Noon”, 1973

In the early to mid-1970’s, Stephen Boyd did more westerns than he had his entire career. The spaghetti western trend inspired by Sergio Leone’s 1964 classic “A Fistful of Dollars” with Clint Eastwood had created an entire genre that was still lucrative even into the mid 1970’s, when it finally started to fade. This project was yet another collaboration with producer Euan Lloyd, who had previously worked with Boyd on “Genghis Khan” in 1965, “Shalako” in 1968, and “Catlow” in 1971, which Boyd had also helped produce.

According to a November 1970 Variety news item, producer Euan Lloyd was planning to make five Westerns based on the books of Louis L’Amour. Actor Stephen Boyd, who was Lloyd’s partner in Frontier Films, was to appear in each film, and according to a November 1970 Daily Variety news item, Boyd was to star with Yul Brynner in Catlow, which was to be the initial production in the cycle. Lloyd and Boyd only made only one other film based on a L’Amour novel, the 1973 picture The Man Called Noon, which also starred Richard Crenna. (http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/23872/Catlow/notes.html)

“The Man Called Noon” was the third in the Louis L’Amour trilogy (“Shalako” and “Catlow” being the first and second installments). “The Man Called Noon” is definitely the best of all of their productions. Luckily this movie has finally made it to Blu-Ray here in the North America region, which is fantastic, since the film is very cinematic.

mancallednoonimgwatermark.actionCrenna, Schiaffino and Boyd during the filming of “The Man Called Noon” from http://www.lafototeca.com

The filming took place in Spain (it seems every Boyd movie at this time was filmed there!) during September and October of 1972. It was apparently one of the wettest seasons ever in the Castile region, according to an interview of Euan Lloyd at the time.

“You learn early in the game how important cover sets are in adventure pictures. We’ve been shooting in the 12th century castle Manzanares all week, where we have two covered sets, so we never get caught with out pants down.”  (Los Angeles Times on Oct 22, 1972)

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Richard Crenna (“Wait Until Dark”) is the actual lead in the picture. He portrays a man trying to remember his own identity after suffering from amnesia. Boyd plays his friendly but shifty tag-a-long, an outlaw by the name of Rimes. Lovely Italian star Rosanna Schiaffino (“El Greco”) is Crenna’s love interest, newcomer Patty Shepard is a black-clad bad-girl, and Alfred Hitchcock veteran actor Farley Granger is the town judge/ scheming villain.

Boyd puts on one of this best performances in this movie in my opinion. He is a rascally character, but he has a good heart and it shows through in how he interacts with Crenna’s amnesiac gun-for-hire. You can’t really imagine two more mellow fellows on screen than Crenna and Boyd. They are both such polite gentleman in real life that the ease of their relationship on screen is completely convincing. It is one of Boyd’s best ‘buddy’ movies, which he made so rarely. The movie was directed by Peter Collinson (“The Italian Job”), with amazing cinematography work by John Cabrera (“Conan the Barbarian”), and an equally classic atmospheric score by the prolific Italian composer Luis Bacalov (“One Man Against the Organization” and “Django”)

The movie was released in the summer of 1973.  The MPAA rating was R as movie censors objected to two violent scenes.  “As luck would have it, the Dallas rating board was meeting the day of our world premiere there. Producer Euan Lloyd, author Louis L’Amour, Steve Boyd and I all appeared before the board and argued our case. Then we invited the whole board to the premiere. After they saw the picture, they ordered the theatre to take down the “Not suitable for children” sign and gave it a PG rating.” (Richard Crenna interview, Pensacola News Journal, August 7, 1973) Despite this triumph in Dallas, the rated R remained on the film elsewhere, and even today on the Blu-Ray release.

The movie received very good reviews as the time.

The film abounds in atmospheric riches thanks to John Cabrera’s dynamic poetic photography. Wind-swept ghost towns look like ghost towns instead of a back lot at Universal Studios…Luis Bacalov’s musical score is both beautifully rousing and subtle…

Three actors in the film give the best performances of their respective careers: Richard Crenna, Stephen Boyd and Farley Granger. Mr. Crenna…suffuses virility with a boyish sense of abandonment that demands unwavering attention. Stephen Boyd as Crenna’s sarcastic sidekick is comically memorable as he lopes along with dollar signs for eyes. Farley Granger, long absent from films, is wonderfully Mephistophalean as an egocentric judge. (Prospector, El Paso, July 19, 1973).

Fullscreen capture 4192017 120126 PM.bmpBoyd simmers as the mischievous yet sincere Rimes in “The Man Called Noon”, 1973

It’s good rowdy shoot-em up fun. Crenna is suitably strong and mysterious in the great tradition of Western heroes, and Steve Boyd is something of a surprise in the role of his badman friend who has a sense of humor. (Dorothy Manners, The Danville Register, April 11, 1973)

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Be sure to check out the current Blu-Ray release of “The Man Called Noon”!

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Stephen Boyd in “The Man Called Noon” – as handsome as ever.

Stephen Boyd as Batman????

This is a very interesting blog I came across about Stephen Boyd and Peter Sellers. I have looked and looked for some piece of news or corroborating article to confirm anything in this blog and came up empty. Apparently, at least according to this blog, Stephen was set to play Batman–yes, that Batman! – and Peter Sellers his enemy Harvey Dent. It started filming at Cinecitta in the summer of 1966 (according to my info, Boyd was busy filming Caper of the Golden Bulls) and Sellers immediately clashed with Boyd either about Sophia Loren or his current paramour/wife Britt Ekland, and the whole thing fell to shambles. Fantasy or reality? If I find out more I will pass it on!

Boyd as Batman???
Tension in the air? Boyd, Sellers and Loren on set of The Fall of the Roman Empire

http://reluctant-gentleman-muses.blogspot.com/2012/04/batman-and-robin-dir-blake-edwards-and.html?m=1

Stephen Boyd and Director Anthony Mann discuss cliche-free “Fall of the Roman Empire”, 1963 Interview; “Steve Boyd Flits Among the Lovelies”

Steve Boyd Flits Among the Lovelies

August 5, 1963

The Daily Intelligencer

By Erskine Johnson

Rome – Chunky, rugged, dimple-in-the-chin Steve Boyd has just completed movies with Doris Day and Gina Lollobrigida, Now he was playing love scenes with Sophia Loren.

So leave it to me. I came right out and asked him how they compared on his personal popularity chart.

There had been drama of a sort at Rome’s airport the day before. The two Italian film sirens were slated to arrive within 15 minutes of one another – Gina from Athens, Sophia from Madrid.

The photographers were told: “Sophia at Gate 3, Gina at Gate 22.”

One or the other could be missed between arrival times.

I was in the seat directly behind Gina on the plane from Athens. I didn’t know that the airport photographers faced a dilemma. 

Not until later did I check their popularity chart. With a choice, they waited for Sophia.

In Steve Boyd’s book it was the same story.

With a sudden, slightly startled smile he answered my candid question:

“There is no comparison. I wouldn’t die exactly for Sophia, but I’d come close to it.”

We were on the set here of Samuel Bronston’s latest big epic, “The Fall of the Roman Empire.” It was a big, colorful set, build for only two weeks work. Most of the filming had been in Madrid, and more scenes would be filmed there.

The size of the film and its colossal set put no damper on the small talk always associated with a movie set, at home or abroad.

Boyd talked about “Imperial Venus,” the movie he had made with Gina. It was a farce and this he regretted. He was sticking to straight drama from now on because:

“I just can’t play farce. When I say something, I mean it.”

Director Anthony Mann was delighted about the chance to be making a historical film about Rome “with positively no clichés.” He started counting them on his fingertips – the clichés the film did not have:

“No lions, no orgy, no shower of rose petals, no debauched emperor, no coliseum mobs.”

About the lack or orgy, he laughed:

“How can any movie have an orgy anyway? They always turn out to feature old men sitting around with young girls dropping grapes into their mouths.”

The film was in its 110th shooting day but Mann was right on schedule.

“We are filming history, not making history in putting this film on the screen,” he laughed, an obvious reference to “Cleopatra.”

On sets, in Rome or in Hollywood, the small talk is the same as always.

Anthony Mann and Stephen Boyd
Boyd as Livius
Stephen arrives in Madrid (?). Photo from http://www.lafototeca.com

50 Year Anniversary of Stephen Boyd in Denver for “The Bashful Genius”, August 1967

50 years ago today, Stephen Boyd was in Denver, Colorado, performing the last evening of “The Bashful Genius” at the Elitch Theatre Company. The performance ran from August 7-12th. He was interviewed by the local paper The Denver Post, and he speaks about the play, and specifically about the playwright he portrays, George Bernard Shaw.  I have also added some pictures of the Elitch Theatre as it looks today (since it’s in my hometown of Denver!), and a few ads from the paper at the time the play was here. Look below for the excellent review which the Stephen and play received while it played in Denver!

“Genius Ends 2-Year Hunt” by Del Carnes

The Denver Post, August 8, 1967

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“It took me two years to find a play I really wanted to do, ” Stephen Boyd said of his role as George Bernard Shaw in “The Bashful Genius”at the Elitch Theatre.

“The first time I saw the script, I turned it down because I felt there were certain deficiencies in it. Then producer Marshall Young told me ‘e realize there are changes that have to be made, but we can’t make them unless we do the play.’

“So I took the part, and we are making changes as we go along. We opened in Philadelphia, so Denver is only our second stop. Next week we go to Falmouth, Mass., after which we’ll do whatever rewriting and tightening up is necessary. Then it’s on to Broadway.”

“The Bashful Genius” is the story of two years in the life of the great British playwright, just prior to and immediately after he had written “the Devil’s Disciple,” and during his early friendship with Charlotte Payne-Townsend.

Boyd, a native of Belfast, Ireland, has a deep understanding of Shaw. “I’ve done about 11 plays f his and I think it’s impossible to do Shaw without knowing the man. The, of course, I use to hear him on the radio and constantly read about him in the papers when I was in England. And I’ve had long conversations with people who knew him.”

BRILLIANT PERFORMANCE

In short, Boyd has come prepared for his role as GBS and he turns in a brilliant performance on the Elitch stage. The play, by Harold Callen, is equally brilliant. The dialogue is sharp, crisp and witty.

“There has never been a play about Shaw,” Boyd said,” although a number of productions have concerned his writings and essays. I think Callen has done a masterful job in capturing Shaw, for he is not an easy man to depict. Not only has Callen written the Shaw role expertly, but he’s given the other characters a Shavian flavor at the same time.”

“I think Shaw is difficult for the audience to accept in the beginning. People unfamiliar with him don’t realize this brilliant man also was a clown, a facet that seems incompatible with his intellect.

“Yet, despite the caustic whit and his actions with people, he never purposefully hurt anyone, never cut up a person or individual. He sliced up organizations, but never people.”

“Shaw was an extremely honest person, who said exactly what he thought. But he never was sure people were ready for  honestly, so he tired to color it by clowning.”

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For the role, Boyd has cultivated a superb Shavian beard, and the gestures of GBS. “The only real difficulty I’ve had is in toning down the Irish accent. If it’s too thick, the audience cant understand it. But then Shaw had the same problem himself.”

Boyd isn’t worried about the mortality rate of shows like “The Bashful Genius” on Broadway.

“If you have a good show, people will buy it. With this show, the only thing that the critics might quarrel about is whether I play Shaw the way they think he should be played. But then that’s a risk actors take all the time.”

Boyd is a product of England’s repertory theatre which he believes is the most thorough theatrical training ground in the world.

“You do 42 plays a year, sometimes 50, and you’re lucky if five of them are really good productions. I did 15 years of repertory. Consequently doing a motion picture of a single play almost seems like a vacation.”

“Anyone who does something day in and day out has a marvelous opportunity to learn something,” he said, and “it even applies to the daily grind of television acting. But there is a a much greater temptation to be lazy for it’s easy to slide over something in that kind of situation. But if you discipline yourself, you can learn a great deal.”

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The Denver Post Review – August 8, 1967

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The Elitch Theatre in Denver Colorado, as it looks in today in 2017, 50 years after Stephen performed here.