I love this set of pictures! They are taken just about 10 years apart.
I love this set of pictures! They are taken just about 10 years apart.
During a very difficult stretch in his career in early 1961, while Stephen Boyd was waiting for “Cleopatra” to get started, he gave an interview with Screenland magazine. “Even in my early and grimmest London period I was never this long without acting assignments,” Stephen bemoaned. His luck was about to change and “Lisa” (The Inspector) with Dolores Hart was coming around the corner to save him. Unfortunately for Elizabeth Taylor, she contracted double pneumonia around this time and almost died! The “Cleopatra” project was postponed once again.
The title of the article was “What Makes a Woman Seductive?” Stephen describes some of his favorite female movie stars and their sex appeal. It’s a fascinating account!
“What makes a woman seductive?” he repeats my question and mulls it over. “I’m only a mere man and so I’m afraid I can’t define this mysterious substance. But every man knows it when he meets it. In my opinion Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor are two of the most seductive women on the screen. Miss Monroe accentuates femininity by daring aggressiveness through exposure; Miss Taylor’s seductiveness is more diffused but the effect is just as alluring. Brigitte Bardot (who has the most animal in her of any woman I’ve ever known) would be third on my list and Sophia Loren fourth. And Kim Novak has an incredible pull that few men can ignore.”
“I’m certain if you asked ten men you’d get different answers, for the question of seductiveness is a highly personal one. A woman may be a packaged Cleopatra or Helen of Troy to one man and lacking in seductiveness to another. Personally, the way a woman walks–that little undulation seen from the rear– is seductive. But when it’s overdone, it’s ludicrous. How she wears her clothes adds to detracts from her ability to captivate a man. For me, petite women are more provocative than tall ones but whether they’re blonde, brunette or redheads doesn’t matter.”
“Sex appeal in a woman isn’t only a physical quality but is mental and emotional as well. A beautiful woman evokes merely admiration from men while sex appeal evokes excitement. Beauty and sex appeal don’t always go together. A plain woman can suddenly become attractive in response to a man’s unexpected attention. It changes her conception of herself, adds a feeling of power, a sense of confidence and so awakens her sex appeal. The same holds true of a man.”
Particular Praise for BB
“…when I was in Paris, I renewed my acquaintance with Brigitte Bardot. Immediately the press nominated me as the next Mr. Bardot. It was ridiculous; I don’t go around breaking up marriages. Brigitte and I had made “The Night Heaven Fell” (which I’d like to forget) and of course I wanted to see her again. Around BB you feel more alive than you normally do. She has intelligence and humor and best of all, she knows how to listen. So many women really don’t, you know. Brigitte is a remarkable woman, at times a bit exhausting, but there’s no romance between us.”
So you think movies have gone about as far as they can go. Rape, incest, young girls with old men, abortion, dope, sadism. After low-cut necklines, came no necklines. What’s left? Reluctantly, Stephen Boyd supplies the answer – nude males.
Boyd, whose first halting stab at this was with Brigitte Bardot in “The Night Heaven Fell,” goes all the way—as they say—in “Imperial Venus” with Gina Lollobrigida. In between, he’s managed to sandwich in more wholesome roles – the memorable Messala in “Ben-Hur” and the upcoming MGM release, “Billy Rose’ Jumbo.” Also, he starts work in December in Samuel Bronston’s “Fall of the Roman Empire.”
As for being nude, Boyd does not approve. In fact he considers that he’s made the same mistake twice, the second mistake being the worst, the Italian-made “Imperial Venus.” Said Boyd:
It Was Simple
“I think it’s crude. But we were in the middle of production and I don’t think it’s professional to hold up production right in the middle of it. I knew the scene existed but from the point of view of shooting it was so simple. I’m lying in bed and I had a sheet over me. I figure when you look nude you look nude, but you don’t have to be nude. But it didn’t turn out that way.
“I haven’t seen the picture. In fact, I haven’t seen the scene. I don’t look at rushes, but those who have tell me it’s really something. Anyhow, the scene will not be shown in America. And in my opinion that makes it worse. I mean I do not believe it is necessary for me to be nude in any version, no matter where it is shown. I don’t believe this is entertainment.”
Why, then, over Boyd’s objections, was the scene filmed?
‘Bunch of Amateurs’
“Because,” said Boyd, “they are Italians, let’s say, and they don’t know any better. The producers are the worst bunch of amateurs I’ve ever had the misfortune to work under. The producer is amateurish rather than an amateur. He’s unreasonable.
“He thinks, I believe, that this will help sell tickets. But I wonder where he will sell them. If my memory serves me right, he can’t show it in France. I did a scene with Bardot where she was nude and I was pretty much so and they wouldn’t pass that. What Frenchman wants to look at an Irish body?
“Apart from the physical contempt for the type of operation I was subjected to, I hope I never again find it necessary to make a picture for any foreign organization that is not supported by Americans. I exclude from this the English, for the English too are professionals.
“Being a professional, one forgets there are amateurs in the field. For all I know they could be perversionists. You get involved in the picture and you get to the scene and they say, ‘All right, take your clothes off.’
“There’s all this talk about how great the foreign pictures are. But they’re all copyists. I believe all of the great talent is in Hollywood and New York. I don’t believe there’s anybody in the world that can touch them.”
From his words, it’s easy to see that Stephen Boyd had his Irish up. He is, in fact, and Irishman, the youngest of nine children. He was born in Belfast and while he had no trace of accent, he has the Irish gift for language.
And while Boyd deplored his part in “Imperial Venus,” he was quick to praise “Jumbo.” An opposite kind of entertainment. Said Boyd at the Hollywood Brown Derby.
“In my opinion ‘Jumbo’ is the type of entertainment that has been successful since the beginning of entertainment. It is family entertainment. I believe there are more close-knit families in this world than there are individualists.
Our Worst ‘Better’
“I honestly believe – it depends on how you view this business – that motion pictures are a form of entertainment developed for the masses. I don’t believe there is one single picture made here that doesn’t do better than pictures made in Europe – than anyplace else, for that matter. Forget the cost or anything else, the worst picture here makes at least as much as the best picture made in Europe.
“I hate like hell leaving this town. I really hate to. But at the moment pictures are being made abroad. If it looks like it’s be good entertainment, you just have to go.”
Add a personal footnote to aspiring young actors. Learn from Stephen Boyd’s experiences. Go slow, take your time and keep your pants on.
It’s hard to believe that 1968 was 50 years ago, but yes, it’s true. During the early part of 1968 Stephen Boyd was busy filming “Shalako” with Sean Connery, Brigitte Bardot, Honor Blackman and Peter Van Eyck near Almeria, Spain. According to a newspaper article at the time, Stephen was most excited to get to work with both Brigitte and Connery. Steve and Sean were acting buddies at the very beginning of their careers in Ireland while Steve co-starred with Brigitte at the outset of her career in “The Night Heaven Fell.” (Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Nov 23, 1967)
I would very much like to thank mega-Stephen Boyd fan Emmanuel in France for kindly emailing me these amazing behind the scenes photos of Boyd and BB on one of their evenings out during the filming of “Shalako”. This was when the rumors were flying about a possible romance between the two actors. You can see why!
I wonder what Brigitte Bardot is going to give Stephen Boyd when they finish work on the flicker they’re currently shooting. Last time the twosome co-starred in a movie Brigitte surprised Stephen with a unique and special version of the film. She gathered together all the film censors had deleted as being too sizzling and spliced it together to form her own private version of a stag movie starring Brigitte and Steve. (Hartford Courant, Jan 17, 1968)
Bardot: “As for Stephen, he and I are just old friends. The whole company usually dines together at night. I may have kissed Stephen, but I kiss everybody I like.” (News Castle News, Pennsylvania, Feb 28, 1968)
Bardot: “But I am very upset he (husband Gunther Sachs) will read this report about Stephen Boyd and think maybe there is something to it. Then we will have a row and the stupid people who started this will have achieved their purpose, anyway…Some nights Steve sits at my table, some nights he doesn’t. ” (El Paso Herald Post, March 2, 1968)
Boyd: “I have no relationship with Miss Bardot–only in the professional sense. I am a professional actor, she is a professional actress…I know why they (rumors) started. Recently I have taken Miss Bardot out to dine on a couple of occasions in Almeria. But we were not alone- always with a bunch of friends. (El Paso Herald Post, March 2, 1968)
A press writer wrote this once about Stephen:
The film of which he describes is the Roger Vadim flick called “The Night Heaven Fell.” Stephen Boyd was chosen specifically by Brigitte Bardot to play her rugged on-screen lover. For a young actor from Belfast, this movie had to be extremely challenging. This was only Stephen’s second starring role, the first being “The Beast of Marseilles” filmed in early 1957. And here he was – an Irishman playing a Spaniard in a French movie filmed in two different languages starring a temperamental and very famous French sex symbol. Oftentimes male stars would turn down the chance to star with Bardot because she was the show and they didn’t want to be upstaged. Stephen Boyd had no such qualms and used the opportunity to make a name for himself in conjunction with the famous star. The production in Spain (near Mijas) was also plagued by bad weather and illness amongst the cast. In my opinion it was all worthwhile as Bardot and Boyd make a very sexy and riveting on-screen pairing!
Below, Stephen Boyd, Brigitte Bardot, Alida Valli and Roger Vadim during the Summer and Fall of 1957 in France and Spain while filming “The Night Heaven Fell” (Les Bijoutiers du Claire de Lune)
Above, Boyd and Bardot prepare to do battle, with Roger Vadim directing.
50 years ago today!
“Publicists on the Sean Connery-Brigitte Bardot film Shalako described its chemical formula as 007+BB=TNT. But there was a side-effect that sent SB+BB=HEADLINES. An American news agency report from Almeria, Southern Spain, where they were filming, told the world Brigitte had found “a new love interest” in Stephen Boyd.
Both Bardot and Boyd crisply denied the report and then refused to discuss it further. How did the report come about? Was there, despite the denials, any truth in it? These were the sort of questions I set out to answer.
I can now report that I am convinced there was a romance afoot, that Brigitte and Boyd openly displayed their affection for each other, but that publication of the report on their romance cooled it. ” Raymond Palmer from Photoplay in Almeria Spain, 1968.