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.
Crenna, 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)
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”, “Straight on ‘Til Morning”, “Fright”)), 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).
Boyd 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)
Be sure to check out the current Blu-Ray release of “The Man Called Noon”!