In 1956, Stephen Boyd joined an assortment of actors to film a gritty Korean War movie called “A Hill in Korea.” The movie was filmed in Portugal and England. Ronald Lewis, George Baker and Harry Andrews were the big name stars, but it also features other young actors before they were famous; Michael Caine, Stanley Baker and Robert Shaw. This was also one of Stephen’s first roles in movies, and he has a pivotal scene – even as a minor actor – in the film. Stephen makes a great impression as young Private Sims who is shot in his handsome rump by a Korean war patrol. He is carried up to a Korean temple with his injury and dies quite elegantly with his eyes hauntingly wide open. Michael Caine was used as a technical assistant /actor on the film as he had actually served in the Korean War. In his book “What’s it all about?”, Michael Caine had this to say about Stephen:
The director of A Hill in Korea was a wonderful man called Julian Amyes, who gave me my first speaking role not only in film, but television as well. Some of the other unknown actors in the cast were Stanley Baker, Stephen Boyd and Robert Shaw. Stephen and I became friends, and when were were shooting back in England, he used to give me a lift to the studios every day in an old banger of a car that he owned at the time. He was the first one of the cast to make it as a star, and shortly after the film opened he disappeared into the rarefied atmosphere of Hollywood. I never saw him again and he eventually died of a heart attack while still very young.
Here’s what Caine had to say about the filming of the movie itself:
My function as a technical advisor was completely ignored during the making of the film. For example, I advised the crew to spread the troops wide as the latter advanced, which was militarily correct, but they replied that they didn’t have a lens of sufficient width to take it all in! I also pointed out that the officer would have removed his signs of rank and worn a hat, the same as the other men, to disguise which one was in command, but George (Baker) was allowed to go into battle with all badges and hat gleaming, every inch an officer. In a real fight, he would have lasted all of ten seconds. The most glaring mistake that I never brought to their notice was that Portugal did not in the least resemble Korea; if anything, Wales was more similar. I did not say anything because I wanted to stay in Portugal – I could go to Wales at any old time.
Below are some ad’s for the film from December 1957. Already, even though a minor character in the movie, Stephen’s name is mentioned prominently.