“Boyd Should Have Purchased Suitcase” – Stephen Boyd Interview, 1961

“Boyd Should Have Purchased Suitcase” by Vernon Scott, September 14, 1961

AMSTERDAM — Actor Steve Boyd recently bought a new home in Hollywood, but he should have invested in a new suitcase.

The handsome young Irishman has made six movies since he established himself in Hollywood– and four of them have been made in foreign countries.marielladivorce

Currently starring in 20th Century Fox-s “The Inspector” here, he also lived in Rome for “Ben-Hur,” Mexico for “The Bravados,” Paris for “The Big Gamble” and Canada for “Woman Obsessed.”

Additionally, he has worked in Africa, Spain, England and Scotland.

As far as Boyd is concerned, locations are for the ‘boids.”

‘IT’S HARDSHIP’

“It’s a hardship for actors to work in foreign countries,” Steve complained. “You lose the professional atmosphere of Hollywood.

“Hollywood is the only picture center where circumstances are normal and professional. Studio crews and technicians are completely efficient in every respect.”

Steve downed a martini in a colorful Dutch restaurant alongside one of the city’s many canals. It was a picture postcard setting, but Steve was unimpressed.

“I don’t like living in hotels and other problems on location,” he said.

“There is always the language barrier with the crews. And foreign directors and crewman are interested in making a picture that will make their country look good. In Hollywood all pictures are made with the world market in mind.

DON’T LOOK UP

“Another thing, when a plane flies overhead in Hollywood you don’t bother to look up. Over here it’s liable to be a Russian bomber loaded for business.

“There are the distractions. Most countries have interesting customs, landmarks and characters who take your mind off your work.

“Take the canals here in Amsterdam. In the middle of a scene you begin watching a boat of a windmill and the next thing you know you’ve forgotten your lines. Sometimes it is impossible to concentrate on what you’re doing.”

Boyd, a bachelor, also finds foreign beauties distracting. But he has the same problems back home.

“Most American films can and should be made in Hollywood,” he continued. “Southern California has ocean, mountains, deserts and a big city that can absorb most American backgrounds.

“But I guess it is impossible to capture the feeling of Holland or England out there, so it’s a matter of living out of a suitcase in different parts of the world. BE ACTOR–SEE WORLD.”

On Location! Below, Stephen Boyd and Dolores Hart among the charming canals of Amsterdam during the filming of “The Inspector”

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Stephen Boyd in “The Manipulator” (The African Story), 1971

“The Manipulator” (Or “The African Story”), is a quirky Italian action film which was released in October of 1971.

Stephen Boyd plays a wealthy music producer Arnold Tiller (played with Howard Hughes-like flair by Boyd) who gets involved in a wild scheme to fake the kidnapping of his star singer Rex Maynard (Michael Kirner) who has eloped to South Africa with Tiller’s daughter. Tiller’s scheming partner (the stunning Sylva Koscina, who had just starred with Boyd in “The Great Swindle”, also in 1971) tries to seduce the hapless Maynard, who uses some amazing stunt man skills to escape his kidnappers, and eventually joins forces with Tiller himself to bring down the bad guys, who are all played by familiar, rugged faces from Italian films at the time.

It is a haphazard, super fast production directed by Italian Marino Girolami and written by the Ralph Anders (“Control Factor”).  The scenes move quickly from one to the next, with random car chases and inter-spliced moments where literally Boyd’s mustache changes in the same scene from his true debonair one to an obviously fake gray mustache. Like I said – this is a quick production! Boyd seems to understand this – it’s what I would call a fairly unengaged performance from him. Nonetheless, the film seems to have a bit of a cult following just because it is a fun, ridiculous Italian action movie.

The great score by Francesco de Masi is perhaps the salvation of this project. And the fact that Sylva Koscina is super slinky and gorgeous and Stephen looks handsomely debonair (unless he is battling the fake mustache of course!). Unfortunately Koscina and Boyd have limited time on screen together. They have wonderful chemistry in “The Great Swindle”, and it’s a shame they didn’t exploit that more in this film. However, since the cast literally seem to be filming scenes miles apart from each other, it doesn’t surprise me. Nonetheless, if you haven’t seen “The Manipulator”, it is worth finding!

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CINE Revue Magazine April 1971 – Marisa Mell & Stephen Boyd back cover photo

This is a hard magazine to find! I have been searching for this for years and I finally snagged a copy of it. This is a fantastic photo by Angelo Frontoni of Austrian actress Marisa Mell embracing her co-star Stephen Boyd from behind during the filming of “Marta”.  The photo was part of a layout for the French magazine “CINE Revue” concerning the sexual ‘explosion’ in films during the early 1970’s.

Mell and Boyd became lovers soon after during the filming of their second film together, “The Great Swindle”, filmed only a few months after “Marta”. For more on Boyd’s brief but poignant relationship with Mell please see this blog, “Love and Magik in 1971“. Or just enjoy this  sexy picture of two attractive stars during the start their romantic interlude!

 

Dec 31, 406 A.D. – “The Crossing of the Rhine”

 

One of the most famous and haunting tales of the late Roman Empire was the winter of 406 A.D. During this period, the barbarian incursions across the border into the Empire had begun to take their toll. In 376 A.D. the Goth tribes had crossed over the Danube, initially with Rome’s permission, to escape a new threat from the  the roving hordes of Huns which had pressured the Goths out of their settlement. After crossing the Danube, this refugee civilization had been cruelly exploited by the Romans, and in turn they took their revenge. In the Battle of Adrianople, August 9, 378 A.D.,  the hollow shell of the once great Roman military power was encircled by Gothic cavalry and surprised in a terrible defeat. The Emperor of the East, Valens, was killed in the struggle. The next Emperor, the virulently Christian Theodosius, allowed the Goth tribes to settle within the Empire itself. They actually served as a barrier and as troops for the Empire. However,  a Visigoth king named Alaric wanted more power, and he took his tribe on a rampage throughout Greece and eventually into Italy. Theodosius’ sons, Arcadius in the East and Honorius in the West, were left to deal with the situation after their father’s death. The Master of Both Services (Foot and Cavalry), Stilicho, a German-born Roman officer who wielded inordinate control of the West and Honorius himself, pursued and battled Alaric throughout the Balkans and Italy. Without a decisive battle, however, some even questioned Stilicho’s own loyalty to the Empire. Because of these battles, the critical troop detachments along the Rhine frontier were mostly withdrawn to protect Italy. This left Gaul critically exposed.

Flavius Stilicho confronts Goths

Amidst this backdrop came the brutal winter of 406 A.D.  A restless hordes of Germanic Tribes (Franks, Burgundians, Macromanni, Vandals, Alemanni) and non-Germanic Alans were poised across the Rhine River from Confluentes (Koblenz) to Rufiniana (Heidelberg), ready to move into more fertile, warmer lands to the south. Their intention was to invade and settle into Gaul, Spain and eventually Africa. When the cold winter froze the river, on December 31, 406 A.D., they crossed and changed the map and history of Europe forever. This was the Fall of the West and the Dark Ages were upon it. Britain was cut off from the Empire, and eventually the entire western Roman Empire came under the dominion of Germanic Tribes. All that Marcus Aurelius and countless other Roman Emperors had fought against in those dark, Germanic forests had been for naught!

“This memorable passage of the Suevi, the Vandals, the Alani, and the Burgundians, who never afterwards retreated, may be considered the fall of the Roman Empire in the countries beyond the Alps; and the barriers, which had so long separated the savage and civilized nations of the earth, were from that fatal moment levelled with the ground.”  (Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chap. XXX)

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As if to mirror the drama it was meant to portray,  “The Fall of the Roman Empire” began filming in Spain during the harsh winter of 1962-1963. Ironically enough, the Rhine froze over this year as well! This was one of the coldest winters in modern Europe. Stephen Boyd lamented about Sunny Spain at the time: “The snow is up to my waist–the temperature is around zero. I could take it if I could wear long underwear buy you can’t wear longies under a Roman toga!” (January 27,1963, Santa Cruz Sentinal)  See below for some snowy pictures during this abnormally brutal winter season.

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s-l500I highly recommend this novel, “Eagle in the Snow”, by Wallace Breem for a great read about the later Roman Empire and the Crossing of the Rhine. The tale follows a no-nonsense follower of Mithras, General Maximus, as moves from Hadrian’s wall to help fortify the town of Moguntiacum (Mainz) and the Roman territory west of the Rhine against the forthcoming Germanic onslaught. It’s a fascinating tale of the new Christian era, the loss of Paganism, and the changing world of the late Romans.

“The Bravados” on Blu Ray

I had the pleasure of finally watching my new blu-ray of “The Bravados” this week, and I was most impressed. The transfer is excellent, although it took my a little while to get adjusted to the amount of color I was seeing! I am used to the very washed out 20th Century Fox DVD. But the scenery, the sound, and especially the color is impressive on the new Twilight Time DVD release. Below are some screen-shots from the film. Try to grab this one of you can!