Updated to Stephen Boyd Movie Photo Gallery, https://stephenboydblog.com/photos/
Updated to Stephen Boyd Movie Photo Gallery, https://stephenboydblog.com/photos/
Stephen first met Joan Collins in late 1956 when he filmed the Darryl F. Zanuck production of the somewhat controversial racial drama “The Island in the Sun” in the Barbados. Joan Collins doesn’t mention any specific love affair with Boyd in her auto-biographies, but clearly the two became good friends during the filming of the movie. “Where this leaves Arthur Lowe Jr., I wouldn’t be knowing, but Joan Collins and newcomer Stephen Boyd are doing the Boyd-meets-girl bit as though it came naturally on location in the British West Indies.” Shamokin News Dispatch, Pennsylvania Nov 30, 1956
In August of 2016, Joan Collins tweeted the photo above.
Joan Collins was always game, and during film assignments she projected the appearance of ‘just one of the boys’ –like playing cards and chatting with her male co-stars. She also defended herself over the years from unwanted paramours which included producer Darryl Zanuck and renowned woman chaser Richard Burton.
A little more than a year later, Boyd and Collins were reunited during the “Bravados”. There is one comment in a newspaper that their apparent ‘hot’ relationship from “Island in the Sun” had turned ice-cold at this point. “Joan Collins and Irish color Stephen Boyd, who were a red-hot love match last year during the West Indies filming of “Island in the Sun” are colder than an Eskimo’s icebox on the Mexican location of “Bravados.” Joan receives daily letters from Nicky Hilton and Arthur Loew Jr. and she and actor Henry Silva have become mucho simpatico during this hegira south of the border.” (Indianapolis Star, Mar 7, 1958).
A month later, however, in another interview, Boyd seems to be amiably teasing Collins.
Logansport Pharos Tribune, Indiana April 1, 1958
Joan Collins has taken over the title of Cinema City’s number one bachelor girl now that Jayne Mansfield and Natalie Wood have retired from the field.
The outspoken English lass sat at the table in the 20th Century Fox commissary and discussed her love life over a platter of marinated herring. Two of her nervous suitors, actors Henry Silva and Steve Boyd, listened painfully while she outlined the requirements she expects of a husband.
“He must be intelligent, understanding, seven years older than I am, and terribly attractive,” she started out.
“He has to be dominating without appearing to be and able to support me better than I can support myself.
Boyd looked at Silva, “Do we qualify?” he asked.
Silva, who appears in Joan’s new picture “The Bravados” with Boyd, shook his head disconsolately.
“I’m not so sure I’d want him to be an actor. They’re dreadful bores. Present company excluded,” she hastily amended.
“There are too many qualities about actors that I find annoying. They’re more interested in themselves than they are in a girl when they go out on dates.”
“Why should I marry? What can a husband offer me apart from children. I like being independent and self-sufficient. I don’t want anyone telling me what to do, yet I wouldn’t marry a man who didn’t try to dominate me.”
Undaunted, Boyd asked, “What are you doing tonight.”
“Don’t call me,” Joan said, preparing to leave. “I’ll call you.”
During the filming of “Ben-Hur”, Boyd would talk about Joan Collins, and apparently hurt her feelings by describing their relationship as ‘just good friends.’
“But although today Boyd lives in a Hollywood bachelor apartment, he still likes to date a pretty girl. There was a time when people thought he’d hitch himself to Joan Collins. Snorts Boyd, “Just good friends and she’s an English shoulder to lean on. We’ve been pals since we did Island in the Sun. That’s all there is to it.”
The story was echoed by la Collins herself—except, she seems sorry to hear Boyd attached so little depth to the friendship. But it appears the actor makes friends easily with his co-stars and they remain that way after the picture is finished.”
The two actors would remain friends as they would appear several years later together in December of 1962, arm in arm, at the London premiere of “The Longest Day”. Collins appears in a lovely feminine pink dress with a long string of pearls necklace and Boyd in an elegant tuxedo. They make a very glamorous looking couple. Boyd had just finished filming “Imperial Venus” in Rome with Gina Lollobrigida, and he was just about to head off to Spain to begin filming “The Fall of the Roman Empire” with Sophia Loren.
Below are some pictures of Boyd with Joan Collins at “The Longest Day” premiere. Also view their arrival at the premiere on the YouTube video below.
When Stephen Boyd first arrived in Hollywood, his first project was a western called “The Bravados.” The movie was filmed from January to April 1958, and it was released later that same year in the summer. The cast left for Morelia, Mexico on January 27th of 1958, but before leaving, some of them (including Boyd) were given extensive horseback riding lessons at the Fat Jones Stables in North Hollywood. “Fat Jones Stables was the top supplier of horses and horse wranglers to the movies for 51 years.” (https://stevesomething.wordpress.com/category/fat-jones-stables/) Stephen Boyd had never been on a horse before, so Fox Studios was going to transform this young Irishman into a gun-toting, tough, horse-back riding outlaw. And they did a great job!
“Four very saddle-sore performers are Stephen Boyd, Ken Scott, Barry Coe and Kathleen Gallant, who’ll go to Mexico to appear with Gregory Peck in “The Bravados.” None of the quartet ever has done any riding to speak of before. All have been taking lessons. As a result, the entire group was allowed to receive their out-of-the-country shots in the arm instead of the usual place.” (The Evening Independent, Jan 27, 1958.) Ken Scott, incidentally, would become one of Boyd’s best friends and golfing buddies. He appeared in two more of Boyd’s films – “Woman Obsessed” and later on “Fantastic Voyage.”
“The Bravados” Posters: capitalizing on Stephen Boyd’s ravishment of Kathleen Gallant in the movie
More adventures were to come on location in Mexico in the area of San Jose Purua, Morelia, Uruapan, and Guadalajara. The entire cast, except the Director, developed Montezuma’s Revenge. “Gregory Peck miraculously escaped serious injury or more when he rolled off his horse as the mount slipped and tumbled down an 80-foot cliff. Joan Collins got nipped by a scorpion. Stephen Boyd, the Irish Star, was kicked in the leg by his own steed and was rendered, you might say, horse de combat for a fortn’t. Kathleen Gallant, one time ‘Miss New Hampshire,’ making her film debut, was tossed by her own nag and landed unceremoniously on the hip pocket of her well-fitted jeans. Lee Van Cleef ripped a king sized gash in his shootin’ hand falling down another gully…” (Philadelphia Enquirer Apr 7 1958.)
Stephen Boyd would later mention that the “Bravados”, of all the movies he himself made, was his favorite. It is a remarkable performance, considering also the level of transformation Boyd undertook to become Zachary, the main villain of the film. The movie is based on a western novel by Frank O’Rourke and directed by veteran director Henry King (“The Song of Bernadette”). The excellent soundtrack by Alfred Newman (“The Robe”) and Huge Friedhofer (“Woman Obsessed”) is both rousing and unsettling. The cinematography of the prolific Leon Shamroy (“Cleopatra”, “The King and I”, “The Egyptian” and “Planet of the Apes) is also outstanding with the Mexican scenery and blue-lit night scenes.
The movie takes the basic revenge plot of the novel but turns it into something even more interesting. Gregory Peck portrays a tall, quiet, brooding man, Jim Douglas, who arrives in a quiet little town called Rio Arriba to watch four men hang. When he arrives he meets a former female acquaintance named Josefa, played by Joan Collins, who tries to rekindle their relationship with no luck. Douglas is hardened by the death of his wife, who was raped and killed by these men (or so he thinks) and who he has tracked to this town. When Peck meets the men in the jail, you finally get a look at the ‘bad boys’, and they truly emanate menace. Stephen Boyd plays Zach, the ringleader of a gang which consists of Parral, Lujan and Taylor, played respectively by Lee Van Cleef (“For a Few Dollars More”), Henry Silva (“Ocean’s Eleven”) and Albert Salmi (“The Unforgiven”). Boyd looks the part of an outlaw with a rugged, unshaven look, reddish hair, and a subtle Irish accent.
These four actors make the outlaws the highlight of this film. Parral (Van Cleef) is the half-breed who seems to worry about everything; Lujan (Silva) is the stoic, cunning Native American who is the only one to survive the wrath of Douglas; Taylor (Salmi) is the gambler; and Zach (Boyd) is the unspoken leader whose main weakness his rapacity for women. Stephen’s Zachary is a perfect precursor to Ben Hur’s Messala – he seems to radiate evil intentions from the start, with his blue eyes glittering lustfully when he asks the sheriff why he didn’t bring them ‘a woman’.
The prisoners make their desperate escape from the jail, but not before Zach nabs a female hostage Emma, played by Kathleen Gallant, for his own libidinous needs. The renegades immediately start to turn on one another as the townspeople and Douglas (Peck) are in hot pursuit. Meanwhile, Zach plays a cat-and-mouse game with the kidnapped girl Emma, toying with the rope she is bound with suggested arousal and trying to get a moment alone with her. His plans keep getting interrupted.
There are even glimmers of the Sergio Leone spaghetti western “For a Few Dollars More” in this film as Gregory Peck keeps a photo of his wife and daughter in a gold pocket watch. Lee Van Cleef carries a similar, sentimental pocket watch in “For a Few Dollars” as he seeks revenge for his sister. The scene in which Douglas takes his revenge on Parral (Van Cleef) as he pleads his innocence is especially unsettling – it feels more like an execution than justice. Douglas catches up with Taylor next in the woods. The posse finds Taylor hanging upside down from a tree, dead, after Douglas has had his way with him. The sheriff’s early reproof of Douglas for suggesting using a tree instead of a gallows for the outlaws (“They came here to be hanged, not lynched”), echo back to the audience disconcertingly.
The climax comes when Lujan, Zach, and Emma approach a small cabin looking for food and fresh horses. The cabin is owned by one of Jim Douglas’s neighbors, a miner named John Butler ( played by Gene Evans) . Ironically, as we shall see later, this is the man who actually killed Douglas’s wife and raped her – not Zach (Boyd). Once inside, the renegades ransack the cabin and shoot the miner as he tries to run off with the gold he stole from the Douglas ranch. Zach is left inside with Emma alone and the inevitable, fateful confrontation occurs.
The rape scene, which is filmed with brutal effect with no soundtrack music, happens very fast. Zach lunges across the cabin room as Emma tries to escape. With the entire back of her dress already ripped asunder, the helpless girl is roughly seized by Zach and their struggle continues inside. The cabin door slowly swings open with the actors out of sight, but we hear the sound of the girl’s guttural cries of anguish and Zach’s brutish growls. We don’t see what’s happening, but the effect is even more chilling.
All the while the serene Lujan waits patiently outside as he greedily hides the gold found on the dead miner. The two abscond from the scene as soon as Lujan sees what he thinks is the ‘posse’ approaching. It’s actually Josefa and the sheriff.
Meanwhile, Douglas has broken off from the townspeople to seek his own personal vendetta, eventually finding Zach in a small Mexican cantina across the border. Once again Douglas presents his gold pocket watch and the photo of his wife to Zach. He goads the baffled Zach into a gunfight and kills him. Then, unrelenting, Douglas chases down Lujan to his family home.
It is here where Douglas finally understands that he’s been chasing the wrong men this whole time. Lujan explains where he found the gold. Peck plays this scene perfectly. Horrified and sickened by this revelation , he braces himself on the ground and clasps his hands together as he realizes just how far his revenge has taken him. He was about to kill both Lujan and possibly Lujan’s wife and child. Guilt-ridden, Douglas returns to Rio Arriba to find solace with Josefa and his own young daughter and the grateful townsfolk.
Boyd is brilliant in the role of Zach, and indeed, his excellent performance in this film foreshadowed his upcoming role in “Ben-Hur”. After “The Bravados” was completed in late April of 1958, Boyd was notified that he had been awarded the coveted role of Messala in William Wyler’s “Ben-Hur” for MGM. He was on a plane to Rome to start filming this iconic biblical epic the next month. Next to Messala in “Ben-Hur”, “The Bravados” might be Boyd’s best villainous role.
This would be Boyd’s first western, but certainly not his last. He would film an additional five westerns later in his career. More on those to come in future blogs.
One of the first major movies Stephen Boyd filmed for Twentieth Century Fox was the racially charged Island In the Sun based on the popular novel by Alec Waugh. It was filmed in Barbados in the West Indies during October to December 1956. The film was released in the summer of 1957. This movie made censors nervous due to the romantic interactions between blacks and whites. It starred some great actors including James Mason, Dorothy Dandridge, Harry Belafonte and Joan Fontaine. Joan Collins tells some interesting anecdotes in her autobiographies about the filming of the movie; James Mason being terrified by the prop plane ride to the islands, she herself escaping the clutches of Fox movie mogul Darryl Zanuck and also flirting with Harry Belafonte. Joan became good friends with Stephen during the making of the film. Whether it was a romantic relationship is doubtful, although they would remain friends and even appear years later at movie premieres together. The beautiful mansion in the movie where Joan and Stephen have their romantic interlude is a place called Farley Hill in the Barbados. ‘Once the site of a beautiful mansion built by Sir Graham Briggs for the entertainment of royalty including King George V in 1879, today Farley Hill has been designated a national park by Barbadian Government. And though the mansion itself was destroyed by fire in 1965, the gutted remains still stand and provide an ideal setting for a picnic and a day of fun in the park, while offering stunning views of the island’s southern point.’ (https://www.visitbarbados.org/farley-hill-national-park). Joan would also star in another one of Stephen Boyd’s movies, The Bravados, about 2 years later. Ironically, Joan was also one of the stars who tried out for Fox’s upcoming epic Cleopatra. She was certainly one of the runner-ups and she even did a screen test for the role. Obviously it was a role meant for Elizabeth Taylor, but since Stephen was the chosen one for Mark Antony (before later dropping out), just remember when you are watching Island in the Sun, you are seeing the two actors who could have been Mark Antony and Cleopatra, had things turned out differently!
Dorothy Dandridge and Joan Collins
Stephen Boyd had the style and the image of old Hollywood Glamour. Stephen himself would often say that the Hollywood (during his era) had already lost its mystery.
“There was a time when celebrities were really idols- remote gods and goddesses whom people looked up to and adored. I think everybody needs an idol, but once that idol is reduced to average size and every intimate detail of his life made an open book, then he loses that pedestal which separates him from those who desire to gaze up at him….Ideally, it would be wonderful if, like the fables cities of old, Hollywood could be enclosed behind high walls and no one except those who work there be permitted to enter. Then the mystery would return. Then people once again would wonder and marvel at the fabulous aura emanating from behind those walls. It would once more be a magical kingdom. I think that’s what people really want in their stars–the marvelous magic of mystery.” (Photoplay, 1966)
Here’s a few pics of Stephen out on the town which I think capture some of that Old Style Glamour!
Look for Stephen Boyd and date Joan Collins attending The Longest Day premiere in 1962.
Stephen (Liz’s original Anthony!) attends the Cleopatra premiere solo in London in 1963.
Stephen & Gina Lollobrigida attend a Frank Sinatra concert in Rome, 1962.