Filming the English version of “The Night Heaven Fell”, 1957

This is a fascinating article about the filming of “The Night Heaven Fell” in August of 1957. Despite what this article implies, this movie was released in the U.S.A. in 1958, but it was considered X rated (for adults only).  I would love to get my hands on the English Language version of this film, not only to hear Stephen Boyd’s actual voice but to also see any differences from the French version. If anyone has a clue where a copy might be, let me know!!

Hollywood in Madrid

“Columbia Movie Not for U.S.”

By Joe Hyams

Orlando Sentinal, August 30, 1957

MADRID – The other day we visited the set of The Moonlight Jewelers, a film being made in French and English for release by Columbia pictures.

The film stars Brigitte Bardot, Alida Valli and Stephen Boyd and, while it is being filmed in English, it is unlikely that American audiences will see it, because there are too many censorable elements.

In a two-minute scene we watched being filmed, Miss Bardot appears nude from the back. When she drapes a mantilla over her, she displays her thigh. Boyd kisses her on the bare shoulder while they are sitting on a bed. All this is frowned upon by Hollywood censors which we called to the attention of Raoul Levy, the producer.

“So?” asked Levy. So why make the film in English at all if it won’t be seen in America? we asked.

“The fact is the English version is for the Far East, Australia and South America –but not for North America,” said Levy.  “Also, we are making an English version because Peter Viertel, who worked on the screen play in French, said it would be east to adapt to English. And Alida Valli speaks better English than French, and Stephen Boyd, who’s Irish, doesn’t speak French at all and had to learn it as he went along.”

Vadim, the director and about-to-be ex-husband of Miss Bardot, told us that directing a film in two languages was a novel experience for him. “I found that every scene about charm and love is played better in French,” he said, “In scenes where you need strength and humor, English is better.”

Despite its censorable aspects The Moonlight Jewelers is being financed by Columbia, an American film company, and therefore is technically an American film. The original budget was $750,000, but with the recent devaluation of the French franc it is now budgeted at $600,000.

The film is typical of many being made in Europe today by American film companies because it has a truly international cast and crew. The producer, Mr. Levy, is Belgian, Miss Bardot is French, Miss Valli is Italian, Mr. Boyd is Irish, and Vadim, the director, is Russian. An American wrote the screen play based on a French novel, and the film crew is a polyglot of many nationalities including American, French and Spanish.

For the English version, the director shouts “Action!” For the French he shouts “Moteur!” To stop the action in English, he says “Cut” and in French he says “Coupe.” Instructions to the actors are given in their own language. The crew is given instructions in either French or Spanish, and it is safe to say that half the time the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.

Photos below by Peter Basch

Stephen Boyd, Marlon Brando and Anna Kashfi

Stephen Boyd was compared to Marlon Brando early on in his career as an upcoming, masculine, rugged-type actor. Although Stephen never considered himself a method actor like Brando, he had nothing but high praise for who he considered hands down the best American actor.

Boyd and Brando

Asked whom he considered America’s finest actor, Boyd didn’t hesitate. “Marlon Brando, without doubt,” he said.
“America has never produced a talent like that, and I wonder whether it ever will again.
“I’ll tell you one interesting sidelight about him : If he invited you over for a drink, you’d often end up in some sort of impromptu drama class.
“You’d be sitting there with a drink talking about something someone said to you, or some incident that happened, and he’d say – ‘Hey, let’s play that as a scene, just for laughs;’
“He does that a lot with friends, and they turn out the performances of their lives for each other.
“Marlon told me not too long ago that his next film will be his last – and his best.
“‘It’ll be my 100 percent,’ he said.
“And you know what ? I believe him.
“There is no other actor in America that even comes near to touching his shoelaces.”

http://leglatin.pagesperso-orange.fr/boyd/boyde.htm,  Stephen Boyd Reveals Offscreen Personalities Of Top Stars by Chris Pritchard (National Enquirer)

It’s also interesting to note that Stephen’s own favorite stage performance as Stanley in “A Streetcar Named Desire” on the British stage was of course the role made famous on the screen by Brando in 1951.

Stephen also happened to briefly date Marlon Brando’s ex-wife Anna Kashi immediately after her divorce from Brando in 1960.  Anna was a mysterious looking beauty born in India and raised in Wales. Unfortunately I have been unable to find a photo of Stephen and Anna together, but there are several news snippets about the pair at that time.

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“Stephen Boyd finds both Anna Kashfi and British Actress Elizabeth Mills very attractive. But it was Elizabeth whose hand Boyd was holding after dinner.” (January 11, 1960 by Louella Parsons. Yes, this is Stephen’s personal secretary and close friend Liz Mills! Interesting point made by Louella. Liz is rarely mentioned in any other news snips during the 1960’s)

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Boyd with Liz Mills in the early 1960’s

“Her (Anna’s) first date in her new freedom will be Stephen Boyd.”  (Jan 30, 1960 by Harrison Carroll)

“Marlon Brando’s ex, Anna Kashfi, is dating Stephen (“Ben Hur”) Boyd. (Feb 5, 1960 by Earl Wilson)

“Anna Kashfi and Stephen Boyd, who usually seek out the quieter places for their dates, and eye-catching duo at dinner at “Chasen’s” (Feb 6, 1960 by Louella Parsons)

“At La Scala, Anna Kashfi and writer producet Alan Reisner were having an Italian dinner. The the next booth, Elana Eden and Stephen Boyd were eating spaghetti. Stephen, remember, sometimes dates Anna.” ( Mar 8, 1960, by Louella Parsons)

Elena Eden
Stephen and Elana Eden

“Stephen Boyd slammed a car door on his right hand, broke his index finger. And speaking of Boyd, his favorite date, Anna Kashfi, is feeling much better. She was able to attend a special showing at MGM of “Ben Hur,” in which Stephen plays Messala” (March 10, 1960 by Hal Boyle)

“The ex-Mrs. Brando (Anna Kashfi) has become Stephen (Ben Hur) Boyd’s favorite date. (March 19, 1960 by Erskine Johnson)

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There was a while that his friendship with exotic and excitable Anna Kashfi waxed hot and promising. While it lasted – and while presumably, Steve felt the numbers were right – Steve enjoyed it, and wasn’t even coy about discussing it.

“I wouldn’t say this is a romance,” he fenced only slightly, ” but then it might be construed as a romance. I’m very fond of Anna. She’s a wonderful girl and we’re very good friends. This is not a publicity thing where I’m saying this, nothing of the sort. I like Anna and she likes me. We are good friends, but romantically I don’t know.”

His indecision was but another manifestation of his abiding conviction that love is a numbers game.

“Anna is fun to be with,” Steve continued with a grin. “She’s intelligent and she’s quite a conversationalist. She’s a little bit kookie, but intelligent. She’s eccentric in some of her sayings and in some of her thoughts, but don’t ask me for specifics. I don’t like specifics because I would only give a specific to you as I see her now. Tomorrow if you ask the same question I’d have to give you something else.” (“Stephen Boyd, Love Gambler” from Screenland, November 1960)

I am sure Stephen Boyd got to hear from interesting Brando stories from Anna at the time of her tumultuous divorce!

 

A match made in hell apparently! Brando and Kashfi. 

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Boyd in early 1960- around the time her was dating Anna Kashfi. Here Stephen is seen prepping for “To the Sound of Trumpets” for Playhouse 90 TV which aired in February 1960.

Boyd looking “Brando-esque” – brooding in white t-shirts from “Lisa” and “The Oscar”