Turner Classic Movies will be playing another Stephen Boyd flick this weekend! FANTASTIC VOYAGE will air this Saturday night in honor of Oscar Month – FAVORITE ‘60S VISUAL EFFECTS WINNER
I alway love to see when FANTASTIC VOYAGE gets a little love. It is such an amazing science fiction movie! And seeing Stephen Boyd in that splendidly form-fitting zippered white wet-suit is always worthwhile as well. Yes, my heart skips a beat!
Such a great cast too, with Donald Pleasence, Edmund O’Brien, Arthur Kennedy and up-and-coming sex symbol Raquel Welch!
from the Republican and Herald, Pennsylvania, March 26, 1965
GOODBY TOGAS, HELLO PANTS, SAYS STEVE
by Armand Arched
HOLLYWOOD – It’s a pleasure to track down Stephen Boyd on a movie set. The search can take you anywhere from Rome for “Ben-Hur” to downtown Los Angeles for his current “Fantastic Voyage.” But it’s a long time between his Hollywood-made films. And he’s one of those rare guys who’d like to stay at home in sunny Southern California and leave the driving (or flying) to other guys.
The last time we spoke to Boyd on the set of a Hollywood made film was “Jumbo”, on the back lot at MGM studios in Culver City. Since that time, he’s been to Italy (a couple of times), Spain, Yugoslavia, England, Egypt and Ireland.
“It seems I do nothing but travel,” he smiled. “And, as you know, I originally came to Hollywood to make my home here and to work here. But since that time, there’s been an influx over to Europe and unfortunately I’ve been a member of that group.”
Boyd wasn’t kidding about making his home in the sunny Southern California clime. The eligible bachelor, instead of making his pad one of those super-glamor places above the Sunset Strip, chose to buy his own home in the San Fernando Valley where such established family men like John Wayne live. Sure, the house has a pool- he’s a sun-lover. (One of those reasons he left the British Isles).
“I’m a true-blooded American citizen,” Boyd noted (he’s had his citizenship papers over a year), “and also a true- blooded California citizen.” He credits the last status in view of his always-handy golf clubs. Like thousands of Los Angelenos, Boyd is a golf nut. Whenever and wherever possible, he’s out pounding the turf.
“Fantastic Voyage” is a pleasure for Boyd on another count. It gives him a chance to work in civvies for a change. “I’d almost become used to getting up in the morning and putting on a dress- a toga, that is, ” he laughed. “It’s nice to be wearing long pants. I feel like a man again.”
In the film, he plays a secret service man –“a good full-blooded American,” he reiterated. But before this epic, Boyd was again in a toga, or baggy dress, playing “Nimrod” in the biggest epic of them all, “The Bible” by Dino de Laurentiis.
Boyd toils in the Tower of Babel sequences. Although he was again in biblical dress, Boyd admits the film was a great experience.
“But it’s a different-looking Steve Boyd,” he warned. “My make up took three hours every morning– false beard, false eyebrows, false eyelashes, false hair. Everything about me is false – except my heart, ” he laughed. These sequences were filmed outside Cairo as well as in the studios near Rome.
We were talking with Boyd inside the giant Los Angeles Sports Arena. As we looked down from the upper levels at the floor below (being readied for a basketball game that night), it was hard to believe Hollywood’s craftsmen had transformed the place into a Pentagon-type building for super-secret activities of deterrent force of men who could make themselves small enough to enter the human blood stream – of the enemy, that is.
It’s a super-futuristic film, of course. It’s not outer space, we were told, but inner, inner space. Some of the equipment rented is also used in plants doing secret government work. Some of the machines are creations of the 20th-Fox engineers. It’s super-science-fiction stuff.
Talking to Steve and looking down at the floor of the Sports Arena, we wondered if he and pal Charlton Heston could run a chariot race here. “It would be kind small,” he laughed. “If Chuck Heston and I got in here we’d have to expand it five or six times the size. We’re a little too fast for these guys.”
We could testify to that – we once stood on the sidelines of the “Ben-Hur” arena in Rome when they filmed their chariot race and we still shudder, recalling those charging steeds tearing around the track a few yards away from our reporting post.
Yes, we agreed with Boyd, it’s a pleasant change to see him working in civvies – and in modern civilization again.
Be sure to check out the two below links for more rare Stephen Boyd clips and snippets, including a fantastic interview of Stephen at the Paramount Movie Studios set talking about The Oscar and his sexy co-star Elke Sommer! Below are some of the highlights.
*A video of Stephen Boyd and Hope Lange attending “The King and I” charity/benefit premiere at Graumans Chinese Theater in May of 1961. (event presented by Eight Ball foundation of L.A. Press Club – Grandeaur 70 premiere)
*Stephen Boyd receiving his “Golden Globe” award in 1960. Ceremonies took place at Cocoanut Grove Nightclub inside the Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles, Stephen won for Best Supporting Actor for his work in “Ben-Hur”! I love the satisfied , dimpled grin he can’t hide. Bravo Stephen!
In August of 1966, the classic science fiction movie “Fantastic Voyage” was first premiered. “Fantastic Voyage” was really quite a revolutionary movie when it came out. Up until that time, throughout the 50’s and early 60’s, science fiction features were mostly relegated to Drive-In-B movies. But “Fantastic Voyage” was a 20th Century Fox experiment that turned into a big success. In fact, in 1966, Stephen Boyd was lucky enough to part of two of the top grossing movies of the year – “The Bible” was #1, and “Fantastic Voyage” was #22 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1966_in_film#Top-grossing_films_.28U.S..29). It was an expensive looking movie with a very good cast, including Stephen Boyd, Donald Pleasence, Arthur Kennedy, Edmond O’Brien, and newcomer Raquel Welch. It took a completely out of this world idea of shrinking a scientific crew to microscopic size and inserting them into the bloodstream of a patient who needed a blood clot operated on inside the brain. It was filmed at Fox Studios, and also at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, which substituted as the inside of the fictional C.M.F.D.M. headquarters. Even though now the ‘lava lamp’ special effects look somewhat dated, this movie still looks exquisite, especially on blu-ray. The sleek, zippered, sexy white uniforms the cast wears look perfectly modern by today’s standards. The studio even enlisted the iconic science fiction writer Isaac Asimov to write the movie-tie in book to give the film additional clout. This movie paved the way for more and more high-end popular science fiction films of the late 60’s and into the 70’s, including Charlton Heston’s “Planet of the Apes’ in 1968. Without the success of ‘Fantastic Voyage”, the world of science fiction movies may have looked very different!
It’s somewhat surprising that one of the more family-friendly offerings of the shrunken down genre, would be among the most serious. Decades after its 1966 release, Fantastic Voyage has been echoed in films like Innerspace and an unforgettable episode of The Magic School Bus. Nonetheless, it still stands out as the best shrunken-down mission into the human body. With a compelling narrative adventure and a colourful aesthetic composition, Fantastic Voyage is the perfect intersection of science-fiction and anxiety-symbology, making it the all-time shrink-down classic.