“Stephen Boyd’s Nude Scene holds up Film”, 1964 Interview

A very entertaining interview Stephen gave in 1964 concerning the hold up of “Imperial Venus” by the US censors. The movie never did get released in the USA (actually, it did, but only in 1972!). Stephen also talks about changing his acting style for the upcoming “Genghis Khan” and his admiration for John Wayne!

Stephen Boyd’s Nude Scene holds up Film

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July 3, 1964

By Dick Kleiner

Hollywood – (NEA)- You may have heard about nudes scenes in movies. When you think about this art form, you probably pops into your mind is a vision of a nude female.

Well, Sir (or madam), I’ll have you know that the nude male form is its way. In fact, at this very moment a motion picture called “Imperial Venus” is being held up by censors because of a 20-minute sequence which features Stephen Boyd with (theoretically) nothing on.

Boyd insists that the scene isn’t ‘naughty’. As he explains it, he plays a man who is very tired from riding hard for eight days, and when he gets to the home of his girlfriend (Gina Lollobrigida) he can’t’ stay awake. So she and her maid undress him and put him to bed.

“It’s farcical and funny, “Boyd says, “And this trouble is, it’s such an important scene and such a long scene that it can’t be cut. There would be nothing left of the movie if it were.”

Of course, all this furor about nude scenes overlooks the incontrovertible fact that Lassie has been doing them for years.

Boyd doesn’t seem to think there’s anything wrong with them. He does divulge a trade secret – nudes in nude scenes are never nude.

“The girls,” he says, “Always wear a flesh colored something. IT’s so thin and light you can’t tell they have anything on even when you’re right next to them. I guess it makes them feel better.”

 He admits he wore something of the sort, too, but to the censors it apparently didn’t make a fig-leaf of difference. The Italian-made “Imperial Venus,” which has enjoyed a healthy run and gotten fine notices in Europe, he says, is apparently permanently stymied outside out gates.

Boyd is heading for Europe again, to play the heavy in a big costume epic, “The Golden Horde.” One of his most successful roles was as the heavy, Messala, in ‘Ben-Hur.’ But this time he is adding something new.

“I have finally learned,” he says, “that I must add IT. It is hard to define, but it’s something the top actors have.

“You see, I’ve always been taught, and practiced, that the best acting is the most truthful acting. If you’re supposed to be dejected, act dejected. But I’ve recently discovered that if you are truthful you can be dull. Real, truthful dejection just appears dull on the screen.

“What the leading actors have is something more than truth – they are always alive, never dull. If it means they must sacrifice truth, OK. I’m going to try it in “The Golden Horde.”

 “The thing an actor must do, I have concluded, is to get himself, and add a pinch of art.”

Boyd says he has learned to have great respect for some of Hollywood’s leading men who are not ordinarily considered great actors.

 “I have tremendous admiration for Duke Wayne,” he says. “He gets some of the toughest parts, parts which take the most ability.

 “To make something out of these parts, Wayne becomes Wayne. It sounds easy, but it is very difficult.”

Below, photos from “Imperial Venus”, which was not allowed to play in America in 1962

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Stephen and the Bombshells! – Stephen Boyd talks about filming sexy scenes

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Anecdotes of Sexy Scenes

by Dorothy Manners, September 11, 1966

Stephen Boyd and I were talking about the hot love scenes, particularly in foreign films. They have become so completely accepted by American audiences there’s considerable talk about up-dating and revising the Code (Motion Picture Association of America’s Seal of Approval- in other words the guide-line of the censor) to allow for more leeway for mature sex in scripts.

“Everyone seems to be in a swivit about sex on the screen except the actors who actually play the scenes. There’s a good reason. Nine out of ten times the big, passionate kiss-and-clutch sequences are literally a pain in the neck if not downright ludicrous!” said Stephen.

He knows

He should know what he’s talking about. The good looking Irishman has wallowed around romantically with more sex sirens than almost any other actor. His list of the ‘kissed’ includes Brigitte Bardot, Joan Collins, Diane Cilento, Gina Lollobrigida, Francoise Dorleac, Eleanor Parker, Elke Sommer, Yvette Mimieaux, Sophia Loren.

Ironically, in his newest picture on display, “Fantastic Voyage,” there’s not one kiss- even a little one with the newest sex symbol, Raquel Welch! The 20th Century Fox hit is concerned with other matters.

As Steve pits it: “Our director Richard Fleischer was too busy with our cast of millions – of antibodies, the red and white corpuscles, cells, dendrites, lymph nodes, arteries – in the inner-body sequences. I guess he rightly figured there’s enough dangers and suspense in that strange, weirdly beautiful, fantastic inner-body voyage we take to food around with outer-bodies.” To know fully what Stephen’s talking about – see the picture.

But in every other film he’s starred in, Steve has done his share of osculatory research.

Never forget

Boyd chuckled, “I’ll never forget the big moment of passion between Gina Lollobrigida and myself in ‘Imperial Venus.’ I had to grab Gina, kiss her so passionately that our knees gave out from under us, and we sank gradually and gracefully to the floor- it said in the script. And that’s the way the director insisted we play it.

“What actually happened is that I’d grab Gina and she’d swoon. But as we tried to sink to the floor our knees would bump together, we’d have to fight to keep out balance and rehearsal after rehearsal we’d wind up roaring with laughter. Censors? They never crossed our mind.

In steel armour

“In ‘Fall of the Roman Empire’ with Sophia Loren, I was encased in steel armor in our big love scenes! As I’d lift my arms to embrace Sophia, the neck of the armour went up and pressed on my Adam’s apple and at the same time the helmet was being pressed downward on my head. The ensuing kiss we exchanged felt more like the survivors of an endurance contest.

“With Brigitte Bardot in ‘The Night Heaven Fell,’ we had a pip of a passionate moment. Because of the unusually beautiful camera effect the director, Roger Vadim, had us posed on a rocky cliff for the big clutch. The implication was that we were literally on the point of disaster. It proved to be right. Just as we kissed, my feet slipped and we fell Jack-and-Jill style right down the hill! We were both so bruised we couldn’t work for days.”

Steve looked at his watch because he was due at the airport to catch a plane to San Francisco for an appearance with ‘Fantastic Voyage.’ But he had time for one more anecdote of the non-sexiness of sexy scenes.

“It’s the REAL topper,” he grinned. “In ‘The Oscar,’ Elke Sommer and I were making mad love in a car speeding down the freeway to Tijuana. It was sufficiently disconcerting to be speeding and kissing at the same time into a camera mounted on the hood of our car. But driving directly behind us was her husband, Joe Hyams! And he’s JEALOUS! Try that for a romantic mood sometime,” said Steve before he sped away.

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Stephen Boyd’s Most Romantic Role? “Imperial Venus” with Gina Lollobrigida, 1962

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Happy Valentine’s week everyone! I thought this would be the perfect time to feature a blog about what I consider to be Stephen Boyd’s most romantic role – as the Hussar (cavalry officer)  Jules de Canouville in the Napoleonic epic “Imperial Venus”. The movie itself was a career project for Gina Lollobrigida, who campaigned to make the film as far back as 1956. The story is based on the real life of Napoleon’s sister Pauline Bonaparte and the novel by Edgar Maass called “Imperial Venus”. Apparently it was about to be made in early 1958 when Gina pulled out of the filming. The producer had promised to cast her opposite a ‘famed Hollywood actor’, but Gina balked when she discovered Lex Barker was chosen as Canouville. Lex had previously starred as Tarzan. Gina and her husband refused to film the movie as they considered this casting would disparage the project.  “I do not wish to be made love to by Tarzan,” Lollobrigida would say at the time. Gina sued the producer, and Barker accused Lollobrigida of libel! Years later Gina would run into Stephen at a Hollywood party, and alas,  she had finally found her perfect ‘Canouville’.  The filming occurred during the summer and fall of 1962. Stephen was somewhat frustrated with the haphazard Italian film schedule, but had nothing but good things to say about Gina and her professionalism. Not too many anecdotes exist about the filming of the movie, except this one :

“I’ll never forget the big moment of passion between Gina Lollobrigida and myself in ‘Imperial Venus’. I had to grab Gina, kiss her so passionately that our knees gave out from under us, and we sank gradually and gracefully to the floor–it said in the script. And that’s the way the director insisted we play it.

“What actually happened is that I’d grab Gina and she’d swoon. But as we tried to sink to the floor out knees would bump together, we’d have to fight to keep out balance and rehearsal after rehearsal we’d wind up roaring with laughter. Censors? They never crossed our mind.”  (Stephen Boyd Interview, Sept. 11, 1966 by Dorothy Manners, Anecdotes of Sexy Scenes)

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The passion onscreen between Gina and Stephen, in my opinion, is marvelous and feels truly romantic and genuine. The fact that Pauline’s romance with Canouville starts later in the movie makes it all that more urgent and poignant. The lushness of the Napoleonic settings and decor is truly beautiful in this film. Stephen wears a magnificent looking ‘Hussar’ uniform.  “The uniform of the Napoleonic hussars included the pelisse, a short fur-edged jacket which was often worn slung over one shoulder in the style of a cape and was fastened with a cord. This garment was extensively adorned with braiding (often gold or silver for officers) and several rows of buttons” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hussar). Gina Lollobrigida is cast perfectly as the temperamental princess. Pauline stows Canouville away in her ornate boudoir, and the passion between the two lovers continues to build until Pauline’s heart-break when Canouville is forced to part with her. Boyd’s Canouville is charming, reckless, sensual,  carefree, and tender. Boyd himself described the role as an ‘Errol Flynn’ like character. Sadly, American audiences were deprived of seeing this movie due to censorship. Apparently the bedroom scene of Boyd stripped naked but covered by a sheet was too shocking, or European, for the US censors to allow, and the film was never released in the United Stated until 1971. Banned for ‘male nudity’! https://stephenboydblog.wordpress.com/2016/04/20/stephen-boyd-censored/

Luckily the gorgeous wide-screen version of the movie has been somewhat restored and released on Italian DVD – https://www.amazon.it/Venere-Imperiale-Stephen-Boyd/dp/B01J4UP4HK.

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“Will Success Spoil Stephen Boyd?”- Interview with Stephen Boyd by Joe Hyams, 1962

This is the second interview by Joe Hyams of Stephen Boyd. Apparently Joe Hyams found Stephen to be “a bore” in this interview,  which only happened two years after the first one (see https://stephenboydblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/08/good-at-research-stephen-boyd-serious-in-romantic-ventures-by-joe-hyams-interview-from-1960/). In my opinion,  however, Boyd hasn’t changed, as Joe Hyams seems to think. By this point in his career, Stephen has more to lose, and so obviously he’s taking things very seriously. Or maybe Stephen didn’t feel like turning up the Irish charm for this conversation or giving any tabloid fodder to Hyams! Anyway, in this interview Stephen talks about his financial security, and praises the acting ability (and figure) of his most recent co-star Doris Day. Stephen had also just completed filming “Imperial Venus” in Italy with Gina Lollobrigida and was just about to start the filming of “The Fall of the Roman Empire” in Spain.

Star Tribune, October 30, 1962

Lollobrigida, Loren, Bardot, Gréco–who were Stephen’s favorites?

Stephen Boyd had the good fortune of starring with some of the most beautiful and famous actresses in the world. He always had very high praise for each one of them individually. But occasionally he was put on the spot by a reporter and asked to pick a favorite. Stephen would always take this with a sense of humor.  So how did Stephen’s co-stars fare? Who were his favorites?

 1)      The Italian Icons – Sophia vs Gina         index.png

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STEPHEN BOYD AND GINA LOLLOBRIGIDA

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STEPHEN BOYD AND SOPHIA LOREN

Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida were both the premiere movie stars from Italy in the late 1950’s and into the 1960’s. Both were legendary in their beauty and their va-va-voom figures. So which of these lovely Italian superstars was Boyd’s favorite?

Reporter Erskine Johnson asked Boyd this exact question in 1963.   – Chunky, rugged, dimple- in- the- chin Steve Boyd had just completed movies with Doris Day and Gina Lollobrigida. Now he was playing love scenes with Sophia Loren. So leave it to me. I came right out and asked him how they compared on his personal popularity chart…With a sudden, slightly startled smile he answered my candid question: “There is no comparison. I wouldn’t die exactly for Sophia, but I’d come close to it.”  (‘Boyd Flits Among the Lovelies’)

Later on in life, Stephen still was awed by Loren. In a 1976 Photo Play interview, he had this to say : Sophia would be my favorite if I had one. She is not the most attractive lady in the world at first glance but, my God, two seconds later you felt you were in a dream world. Just for her to say ‘Hello’ was enough. You just capitulated. For me she is the most beautiful person I’ve ever met.

Sophia wins!

 2)      The French Icons – Brigitte vs Juliette     index2.png

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Juliette Gréco and Brigitte Bardot in 1957

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JULIETTE GRECO AND STEPHEN BOYD

You couldn’t think of two women who looked more opposite than Brigitte Bardot and Juliette Gréco. Bardot was the sex-kitten;  blonde, coy, curvy. Gréco was the dark chanteuse singer with the smoky voice, dark hair, and a slim almost boyish figure. Both were beloved in France –  Gréco tipping the scale in popularity among the French themselves.

In September 1961 Boyd was asked his personal opinion.

Cine Tele-Revue: Vous avec travaille avec Brigitte Bardot er Juliette Gréco. Que pensez-vous d’elles? (With working with Brigitte Bardot and Juliette Gréco. What do you think of them?)

BOYD: BB incarne le reve de tout homme: elle est sexy, belle, attirante. Juliette Gréco? Je l’ai un jour surnomme – La Eiffel Tower de la rive gauche- et la Tour Eiffel n’est pas le monument que je prefere. ( BB embodies the dream of every man : sexy, beautiful, attractive. Juliette Gréco? I nicknamed her one day – ‘The Eiffel Tower on the left-bank’ –and the Eiffel Tower is not the monument that I prefer.)

Bardot wins!

 

Stephen Boyd- Censored!!!! “Imperial Venus”

Believe it or not, Stephen Boyd has the unusual honor of being the first actor to have his movie banned for male nudity. The movie was Imperial Venus, which Stephen filmed in Rome in mid-1962, right before he went over to Spain to film The Fall of the Roman Empire. The film is an epic story about Pauline Bonaparte, the sister of Napoleon. Pauline is played by Gina Lollobrigida. It is romantic and beautifully filmed (if you can find the wide-screen version, that is!) The scene in question is a farcical sequence in the movie when Stephen’s character, a solider named Canouville, returns from a long, long journey. He is so exhausted that he falls into bed and Gina cannot wake him up. He eventually gets carried into a bathtub (still nude!) where he eventually awakens.  It is a scene that can’t really be edited or the humor of the moment would be lost. Apparently the movie censors in America found the idea of Stephen lying prone on his back without any clothes on, except for a boot on his right foot and a white sheet across his pelvic area,  too much for American audiences (talk about a hot factor!).  The movie was never released in the United States in 1963, although it was released in Europe. In fact, the first time is appeared in America in theaters was very briefly in December 1972- about 10 years after it was filmed!

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1972 Ad for Imperial Venus below

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