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!

 

Stephen Boyd in Westerns: Those Dirty Dogs, 1974 (“Campa Carogna…La Taglia Cresce” / “Los Cuatro de Fort Apache:)

In May of 1974, “Those Dirty Dogs” premiered at a movie houses in both Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona, with Boyd attending on a mini promotional tour. Stephen was very proud of this little project which was filmed in Spain in late 1973, featuring the renowned desert ‘spaghetti western’ scenery of Southern Spain. Stephen had been a big part of the production of the film calling it a ‘serious tongue-in-cheek western spoof’ akin to the Mel Brooks film ‘Blazing Saddles’ (“Mel goes a bit far at times”, Boyd says). Obviously success-wise that comparison way off, but nonetheless “Those Dirty Dogs” a good, light-hearted spaghetti western with a truly awesome score by Italian composer Nico Fidenco, raising the bar of the film. It has its moments. Stephen certainly looks the part of the scruffy, world-weary leader, Captain Chadwell. His followers include likable muscle-head Howard Ross as Lieutenant Junger Kohl and upright solider Harry Baird as Corporal Washington Smith (who tragically he developed glaucoma shortly after this film and went completely blind!). The most surprising member of the cast is Italian actor Gianni Garko whose light sense of humor and charm as a quirky Muslim bounty-hunter who frequently quotes words of wisdom from the Koran and rides under a pink umbrella is utterly delightful. The crux of the story is Captain Chadwell and Koran’s mutual pursuit of a dangerous Mexican outlaw. Eventually they decide to work together to catch him. The damsel in distress is another Italian Giallo/Spaghetti mainstay Teresa Gimpera who plays the kidnap victim Miss Adams. In my opinion this movie would have been much better had the damsel in distress actually been rescued! For some reason they let her die in this film, which sort of defeats the purpose I think. All this action, and they can’t save the girl? Argh!

Listen for Stephen Boyd’s singing debut (officially, anyway) in the opening credits in a song he co-wrote with Nico Fidenco – “The Wind in My Face”. It’s a great song and a great way to start the movie.

 

 

Stephen Boyd, Harry Baird, Gianna Garko, Howard Ross in “Those Dirty Dogs”

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Stephen Boyd in full dress uniform as Captain Chadwell, along with his cohorts Harry Baird and Howard Ross
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Stephen Boyd as Captain Chadwell plays rough with the buxom cantina servant but she quickly turns the tables in one of the movie’s funnier moments
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Gianni Garko easily steals the movie with his charm and the sayings of Mohammad

Remembering Stephen Boyd on June 2nd and his last performance on Hawaii Five-0

Above, Stephen Boyd with Jack Lord and co-star Elayne Heilveil in “Up The Rebels”, the 10th season premiere of the original Hawaii Five-0 TV show which aired on September 15, 1977.

This will make 41 years since Stephen Boyd passed away on June 2nd, 1977. Stephen was enjoying a round of golf (his favorite pastime) with his wife Elizabeth Mills at the Porter Valley Country Club in Northridge, California when he suffered a heart attack between the 5th and 6th holes in his golf cart. By the time he received emergency aid, he was gone. Tragically he was only 45 years old.

Only three weeks prior to his death Stephen was completing the film work for an episode of Hawaii Five-0, a show which he had initially been offered to star in during the late 1960’s, but which he obviously declined. The show would air posthumously in September of that same year. Playing the villain again, Boyd gets to show off his Ulster brogue and play a ruthless Catholic rebel priest smuggling arms to Ireland (via Hawaii!). Boyd gives an excellent performance but sadly his last. In his final on-screen dialogue Boyd speaks something in Gaelic, and then says “Up The Rebels” in English with an Irish wink. It’s an eerie farewell.

Stephen did know some Gaelic and even pulled a practical trick on director John Houston once on the set of “The Bible” using it. As Boyd tells it :

“The one rib he tried to pull on my backfired…He introduced me to a chap, saying: “Steve, I want you to know this man who’ll help you more than anyone has helped you before.” He didn’t know I’d met the same fellow while making ‘Ben-Hur’ in Rome several years ago. He gives forth with the double talk so fast you think you’re an ignoramus.

“So I coached this guy in some Gaelic and told him to go back and do the double-talk in that tongue, with an occasional English word thrown in. He had Huston going for a while but he’s very hep and a good sport, too, getting a hearty laugh at me for turning the tables.” (Philadelphia Daily News, Jan 19, 1965)

Below are some nice pictures of Stephen from Hawaii-Five 0 and a short summary of events from 1977.

What Happened in 1977 Important News and Events, Key Technology and Popular Culture

Star Wars opens in cinemas, first Apple II computers go on sale, TV Mini Series “Roots” is aired, First commercial flight Concord, Elvis Presley Dies at the age of 42, NASA space shuttle first test flight, UK Jubilee celebrations, Roman Polanski is arrested and Charged, Alaskan Oil Pipeline completed, New York City Blackout lasts for 25 hours Quebec adopts French as the official language. Jimmy Carter is elected as the President of United States . The precursor to the GPS system in use today is started by US Department of defense. Elvis Presley Dies from a heart attack aged 42.

Issue date Song Artist(s) Reference
January 1 Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright) Rod Stewart [1]
January 8 You Don’t Have to Be a Star (To Be in My Show) Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr. [2]
January 15 You Make Me Feel Like Dancing Leo Sayer [3]
January 22 I Wish Stevie Wonder [4]
January 29 Car Wash Rose Royce [5]
February 5 Torn Between Two Lovers Mary MacGregor [6]
February 12 [7]
February 19 Blinded by the Light Manfred Mann’s Earth Band [8]
February 26 New Kid in Town Eagles [9]
March 5 “Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star Is Born)” Barbra Streisand [10]
March 12 [11]
March 19 [12]
March 26 Rich Girl Daryl Hall and John Oates [13]
April 2 [14]
April 9 Dancing Queen ABBA [15]
April 16 Don’t Give Up on Us David Soul [16]
April 23 Don’t Leave Me This Way Thelma Houston [17]
April 30 Southern Nights Glen Campbell [18]
May 7 Hotel California Eagles [19]
May 14 When I Need You Leo Sayer [20]
May 21 Sir Duke Stevie Wonder [21]
May 28 [22]
June 4 [23]
June 11 I’m Your Boogie Man KC and the Sunshine Band [24]

Watch Stephen Boyd and Linda Evans in Hunter (TV show series, 1977)

This was a rare find! Who knew that this TV show was available? I uploaded it to YouTube (unlisted) for you, my Blog Readers, to watch.

Per Wikipedia :

James Hunter worked for an unnamed United States government intelligence agency – referred to merely as “the Agency” – until 1969, when he resigned because he disapproved of the Agencys methods. He retired from the espionage business to run a rare books store in Santa Barbara, California. In 1977, General Baker is ordered to recruit six counterespionage agents to form a new covert agency – also unnamed – charged with protecting the United States from a variety of threats whether they arise domestically or abroad. Bakers first choice for the new agency is Hunter. In Bakers new agency, Hunter either works alone or is assigned someone to assist him, all the while continuing to pose as a rare books dealer.[1][2][3]

In all but two episodes, Baker assigns another of his agents, Marty Shaw, to assist Hunter. Marty lives in a different part of the United States and is also undercover – as a famous model. She also has her own assignments separate from Hunters. Marty is Hunters lover, and the two share a bed when traveling together on their assignments.[1][2][3]

As undercover couterespionage agents, they battle in locales across the United States with a wide variety of international foes, ranging from communists to organized crime to rogue American agents.[1][2]

The two “K Group” episodes differ from the rest in being flashbacks to the time when Hunter was still with “the Agency” as its chief of operations in West Berlin.[3]

After the cancellation of the series Executive Suite and its last broadcast on February 11, 1977, CBS needed a replacement to fill the void in its schedule. It had bought Hunter for just such a contingency. Hunter premiered a week later, on February 18, 1977, and aired on Fridays at 10:00 p.m. through April 22, 1977.[1] After a five-week hiatus, its last original episode was broadcast on Friday, May 27, 1977, also at 10:00 p.m.[1][2] Four additional episodes never aired.

Stephen Boyd appears in an episode called “The Costa Rican Connection”. The show aired on March 18, 1977, so it is one of the very last television or movies in which Stephen appeared, as he would pass away only 3 months later on June 2, 1977. In this episode, Stephen plays a slippery businessman names Garth Roberts who also ends up being the main villain in the episode (of course!). If he was sporting his Ulster accent Boyd would be straight out of “The Squeeze” in this. Despite being older and a little thinner, Stephen still looks very handsome sporting his immutable 1970’s mustache and flashing that devilish Irish grin.

The episode also features “2001: A Space Odyssey” veteran Gary Lockwood and model Susan Anton. The main television actors for this series were Linda Evans (soon to be of “Dynasty” fame), and James Franciscus, who took Charlton Heston’s place as the main character in the popular sequel to “The Planet of The Apes”, “Beneath The Planet of the Apes” (1970).