Stephen Boyd and Farrah Fawcett in “The Interview”/ “Of Men and Women”, 1973

Stephen Boyd acted with two of the biggest female stars of the 1970’s who also happened to be cast members, at one time or another, of the TV hit series “Charlie’s Angels”; Cheryl Ladd in “The Treasure of Jamaica Reef’, and Farrah Fawcett in a TV program on ABC called “Of Men and Women.”  “Of Men and Women” is a hard one to find, but I recently was able to view it at the UCLA facility/ Powell Library in Los Angeles (http://cinema.library.ucla.edu/vwebv/searchAdvanced).

It aired on ABC on May 6, 1973. It is an hour long program featuring 3 short vignettes, all of which are introduced by the narrator of the show,  Stephen Boyd. The show starts off with Stephen looking pretty much like he does in “Key West” (sexy 70’s Stephen!) with longish hair sporting a mustache and wearing a double breasted suit. He talks straight into the camera with a very Svengali-like gaze as he waxes philosophical about all the different kinds of women in the world (“white, black, brown, yellow…etc.”). Stephen tells us about the different vignettes that are coming our way including his own and describes his character as a typical “male stereotype”. Then the show begins, and Stephen’s vignette “The Interview” comes first. He plays a movie director with a very affected voice which I have never really heard him use before. He pronounces every word very crisply. His character is being interviewed by Barbara Rush who is investigating the death of a young actress from the film set. The actress is played by Farrah Fawcett. This is a very early role for Farrah, although she did have a pretty major role in Raquel Welch’s over-the-top feature “Myra Breckenridge” in 1970.  Sadly, Farrah gets no dialogue with Stephen – we only get to see Stephen talking to Barbara Rush and his own narration.  This vignette shows Stephen and Farrah in brief, fuzzy-lense flashbacks as the story unfolds. First we see Fawcett’s body being dragged up from the ocean onto a boat by a very distraught man as Boyd looks on rather coldly. As Barbara Rush tries to get at the details, the insufferably arrogant Boyd (rather humorously) keeps trying to steer the conversation back to his new movie, but as he is pressed, he continues to describe what happened. The next flashback is Farrah at a fancy party with the leading man, and her director (Boyd) approaches her and takes her by the arm forcibly, steering her into another room where he yells at her (apparently jealous of the leading man’s attentions to his own protégé). Then we see a fight scene where Boyd and the leading man are literally playing tug-of-war with Farrah in an antechamber before the press busts in to photograph the tumult.  We move back to the interview as Boyd gets contemplative while he explains how he was trying to nurse his emotionally distraught leading lady during the next day of filming, and we see a rather strange scene of Boyd and Fawcett sitting at a table in the set together (Boyd in his director’s sweater), and he is basically force feeding Fawcett cup after cup of hot tea. Apparently this tea is laced with something narcotic as a very woozy Fawcett is led out by the crew to do her ocean diving scenes (didn’t this movie have body doubles for these moments?? That aside..), and as she dives into the water, you know she will never emerge again. Then we see the same scene we saw at the beginning with the leading man carrying Fawcett up to the bought, obviously drowned. Barbara Rush is struck by Boyd’s callousness as the narrating of these events, and he goes on to tout his new movie! Then we are back to Boyd in the studio giving us brief introductions to the other 2 vignettes. He makes one last appearance at the end of the program, recounting the various interactions of ‘men and women’, then cautioning the audience as they go out on their own seeking the opposite sex, with an Irish glint in his eye, saying “Good luck!”

The show received fairly negative reviews. The stories are really not interconnected in the least, and it seems Boyd was persuaded to act as the narrator to try to pull them together into a cohesive mass. Besides “The Interview” segment, the other stories are not really worth watching.  But as a Stephen Boyd rarity, acting with Farrah Fawcett, it is worth a viewing!

Of Men and Women was evidently planned as “a trio of diverting tales.” The tales, though, happened to be entirely unconnected in subject matter, theme or any other convenient gimmick, and the program was given a host, actor Stephen Boyd, to pull things together. So sitting in a bustling TV studio, Boyd spoke to the viewer of his wonder at the infinite variety and basic similarities of men and women everywhere. They “speak many tongues feels many emotions,” Boyd observed, but each is immediately recognizable….The Lowell Sun, Jan 2, 1973

In the “The Interview”, written by Evan Hunter and directed by Robert Day, a supercilious movie director (again, the hapless Boyd) and a persistent interviewer provided the only dialogue. “What happened in Sardinia?” “On Sardinia,” he replied prissily, “Sardinia is an island.” In silent and artily hazy flashbacks, the middle-aged director is seen watching his young leading man, in a “hairy-chested-star gesture,” dragging the dead body of his young leading lady out of supposedly Sardinian waters. The leading man is frantic. The egotistic director is coldly self-possessed. Was it a drowning accident, or did the director do it? The interviewer drones on with her questions. His answers say no-no, but there’s yes-yes in his flashbacks. The interview remains properly civilized throughout, and, as it ends, the director suavely declared that “I intend to endure.” With that bit of depressing news, the tale reached its apex of emotional impact. The Baltimore Sun, May 13, 1973

A playlet called “The Interview” was conducted by Barbara Rush as if it were a form questionnaire. Her subject was an arrogant, egocentric motion picture director who tells of the death, by drowning, of the leading lady of his first film. The girl had defied the director briefly. It was a slickly told, unconventional bit and Stephen Boyd gave his cold, remorseless character a fine edge. The Detroit Free Press, May 8, 1973

 

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