The Paramount Picture action/adventure movie which starred Stephen Boyd, Yvette Mimieux and Giovanna Ralli was released on May 24, 1967, which makes this month the 50th Anniversary! Talk about a movie which needs a little love. It is still waiting for its DVD release, let alone a Blu-Ray edition. Come on Paramount Pictures! So this is not the finest piece of cinema ever made – but it could be luscious a looking movie, and one can only imagine if the colors were enhanced how amazing it would be visually. As it is, the only current available version is a dull looking copy with bad sound. I dubbed a little bit of a better version from VHS tape recently, but this film needs help and restoration badly.
Joseph E. Levine produced the picture, and was so impressed with Stephen Boyd from “The Oscar” that he immediately signed him to this project, based on the action novel by William P. McGivern. Stephen Boyd definitely commands the screen in this movie with just raw charisma. Stephen is simply playing the stalwart, good-looking protagonist here (even though he is a professional bank robber!), but with his stunning handsome looks in a sexy 60’s wardrobe by Edith Head, and his perfectly taut and chiseled naked torso flashing during the climactic bank robbery, he doesn’t need to do much. Giovanna Ralli definitely steals the show with her vibrant smile, perky Natalie Wood-like charm and a thick, syrupy Italian accent. Her chemistry with Boyd seems genuine. Yvette Mimieux is also entertaining as the clever ‘dumb’ blond who actually wins out in the end by outwitting everyone else. The characters don’t really get a chance to develop too much but – its a caper movie, as the title obviously indicates. You can’t expect “Dr. Zhivago” here, folks. Several other entertaining character actors, such as Vitto Scotti, William Slezak and Arnold Moss, enhance the cast to make this a perfect summer, escape action movie. The unique part of this movie is that it involved the robbery of the Banco Nacional during the ‘Running of the Bulls’, or the ‘Feria del Toro San Fermin’ (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Fermín). This is an annual event which takes place in one of Ernest Hemingway’s favorite towns in Spain called Pamplona. Thousands of people attend the event in July every year.
The key day of the festival is 7 July, when thousands of people accompany the 15th-century statue of Saint Fermin through the old part of Pamplona. The statue is accompanied by dancers and street entertainers, and different political and religious authorities including the city mayor. During procession a Jota (an ancient traditional dance) is performed for the saint, a rose is offered in the Saint Fernin well, and the “gigantes” (enormous wood-framed and papier-mâché puppet figures managed from inside) dance and twirl while the cathedral bell named María (Mary) peals.[13) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Fermín)
The ‘gigantes’ plays a key role in the movie during the bank robbery, as does the “Running of the Bulls”. The cast was flown to Pamplona, Spain in July of 1966 to film the action sequences involving the ‘Running of the Bulls’, and then returned to Hollywood in August to complete the picture on the back-lots and sounds stages of Paramount Studios.
Reviews of the film were lukewarm at best.
“Now comes along one of the weakest entires ever, “The Caper of the Golden Bulls” (citywide), a waste of time for all but the least discriminating audiences and a waste of the talent of its stars, Stephen Boyd, Yvette Mimieux and Italian actress Giovanna Ralli.
It seems that Boyd and some of his service buddies,feeling guilty for having bombed a French cathedral by mistake during World War II, took to robbing German banks after the war to pay for its restoration. (A more far fetched gimmick to make cross good guys would be hard to imagine)…Indeed, the real crime is perpetuated on the actors: Miss Mimieux has but a bit part as Boyd’s girl friend, Miss Ralli has been allowed to play so broadly that one would never guess that she is one of the most accomplished young European actresses and not just another Italian starlet, and Boyd, who comes out of this mess best, has been surrounded by a bunch of unfamiliar and unappealing cohorts…The excitement of the running of the bulls…has been vitiated by the murky, washed-out look of the Pathe Color print.” Kevin Thomas, 14 June 1967, Los Angeles Times.
It sounds like even when the film came out it needed a little color enhancement! Regardless, I really enjoy this movie every time I watch it. It’s just a fun film, and the more you watch it, the more you enjoy the minor characters which, perhaps during the first viewing, didn’t capture your attention. And it is also one Stephen Boyd’s most attractive roles. I am proud to say – Happy 50th Anniversary to “The Caper of the Golden Bulls”!!!!!!!!!!!!