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 in Westerns : “Shalako”, 1968

Since “Shalako” is finally getting a Blu-Ray release this month, I thought it would be a good time to have an in-depth blog about the making of the film. This was to be Stephen Boyd’s second western, the first having been “The Bravados” filmed a decade prior.

It all starts with producer Euan Lloyd ( Euan Lloyd had befriended Alan Ladd in the 1950’s, which kick started his producing career. (Pittsburgh Gazette, Dec 20, 1966)  Euan had been an associate producer on “Genghis Khan” in 1966, and the producer of “The Poppy is Also a Flower” in the same year. He had developed a good relationship with Stephen Boyd as a fellow collaborator after meeting Boyd during these two projects.  The pair would go on to work on three Louis L’ Amour screen adaptations; “Shalako” (1968), “Catlow” (1971), which Stephen co-produced, but pulled out of acting in the film once pal Brigitte Bardot passed on the project, and “The Man Called Noon”  (1973), which had its own Blu-Ray release recently.  Lloyd wanted to cast Boyd in his major film “The Wild Geese” in 1977, but obviously this opportunity was cut short by Stephen’s untimely death in June of that same year.

Concerning “Shalako”, which was Euan Lloyd’s pet project, as early as 1966, he had tried to get Henry Fonda in the starring role, but found distributors reluctant to back the film. The original cast was to be Fonda, Max Schell, Senta Berger and Karl Malden. (Pittsburgh Post- Gazette, Dec 20, 1966)

Lloyd kept pursuing this project by flying to Hollywood and linking up with veteran director Edward Dmytrik, who had previously directed such projects as “The Carpetbaggers” (1964)  and “Raintree County” (1957)  Dmytrik approached Sean Connery, who showed much interest in the project. Sean Connery was penciled in for the lead part. Once Connery was signed, the project picked up steam as there was much interest in Connery’s “non-Bond” movie roles. Lloyd then personally flew to St. Tropez to enlist French icon Brigitte Bardot as the female love interest. Since Brigitte would only work with people she liked, Lloyd had to get her OK on the director and lead actor. She approved of both Dmytrik and Connery after meeting them both. “Now Lloyd had financing from the British banks. He also signed Stephen Boyd, a most professional actor who couldn’t care less whether he liked anybody so long as the picture was good. It developed that Boyd did indeed like Brigitte.”  (St Cloud Times, July 19, 1968)  Claire Bloom was cast as Lady Daggett, another female character who chooses to run off with the villain. The film was set to be filmed in Mexico at the end of 1967. “Ben-Hur” and “Lawrence of Arabia” veteran Jack Hawkins was also brought aboard, along with German actor Peter Van Eyck. The Native American role of Chato, the Apache chief, was given to Woody Strode, an Afro-American actor who would later work with Stephen Boyd in “Key West” in 1973.

Some late changes took place after filming in Mexico apparently became too costly. The film location was moved to Almeria, Spain (very close to where Bardot and Boyd had filmed “The Night Heaven Fell” in 1957). Claire Bloom dropped out, and was replaced last minute by a Bond-girl, Honor Blackman, who had worked with Connery during “Goldfinger”  (1964).

The filming began on January 2, 1968, in Almeria, Spain. Sean Connery was persuaded by Edward Dmytrik to lose his ‘droopy mustache’ to avoid the same financial disaster which befell a mustached Gregory Peck western called “The Gunfighter” in 1950. Meanwhile, Boyd grew a fine set of whiskers for the part of the heavy. Stephen was excited to play the villain again.  “Give me a part with guts to it, and I’ll be happy no matter how unlikeable the character is.” (The Van Nuys News, June 6, 1968)


The filming would have been uneventful had a little spark not burst into flames when Boyd and Brigitte meet up again.

Of course, Boyd was friends with Brigitte from 10 years earlier, when they had first worked together on “The Night Heaven Fell.” They also had met a few other times in Paris and London during the 1960’s. In 1968, Brigitte was married to German mogul Gunther Sachs. In Bardot’ s autobiography “Initials B.B.”, she described arriving on set in Spain to film the movie. She was disappointed to find that actor Sean Connery was practically bald. She expressed her thrill at meeting Boyd again. “Finally a face, an almost familiar presence among all these strangers!”

A month later, in February, rumors started to fly concerning Boyd and Bardot.

Bardot had been struggling with the filming of ‘Shalako’.  She was displaying all the bad diva attributes she was known for, including arriving late on set, and the director, Edward Dmytryk, was very demanding of her. She was feeling nervous and unsure of herself as the filming went on. In one particular scene, Boyd sensed Bardot’s distress and gathered her up in an embrace and murmured something soothing in her ear. Bardot clutched Boyd around the neck and (of course!) a photographer was on hand to capture the embrace.  The photo hit the newswires worldwide the next day. Suddenly, rumors of a love affair were rampant. It turned into a tabloid/media sensation as it was assumed Bardot was cheating on her current husband Gunther Sachs. Sachs himself even stormed to the set of “Shalako” to quell the rumors and confront his wife. Boyd and Bardot could not keep their hands off each other, it seems. There was a lot of kissing and cuddling on set.

The newspapers at the time were rampant with quotes about the pair.

“Brigitte Bardot apparently is breaking up with her German husband, Guenther Sachs, and actor Stephen Boyd is her new passion, a source close to the situation reported today….For the last week, she and Boyd are reported to have dined together nightly and to have been openly affectionate.”

“It’s been 10 full years since Stephen Boyd and Brigitte Bardot made “The Night Heaven Fell” in Paris. But from the way they’re carrying on making “Shalako” in Spain, heaven is falling all over again.”

“Brigitte Bardot and Stephen Boyd are still causing talk around the set of “Shalako” in Spain.”

“The two have been together for most of their free time. It seems to be all hearts and flowers down here.”

“Since the hot news broke about Brigitte and Steve Boyd, they seem to be cooling it….and though Boyd is a constant escort, there have been no more public displays of affection.”

“Eventual marriage for the twosome looks doubtful. Not that Steve isn’t enjoying every moment of the affair – just as he did 10 years ago when they shot a film together. Brigitte is so hung up over Steve that she’s even offered producer Euan  Lloyd to go on a many country personal appearance tour to plug the movie – something she’s never done before- if Stephen will go with her.”

Sparks fly between Boyd and Bardot on the set of Shalako

Suddenly, everyone was interested in going on location to southern Spain to see what was going on! Newspapers sent reporters to check up on the rumors. Both Boyd and Bardot would deny any such entanglements and stuck to the story-line that they were just ‘good friends.’ Bardot would say, at the time, “As for Stephen, he and I are just old friends. The whole company usually dines together at night. I may have kissed Stephen, but I kiss everybody I like.” (New Castle News, Feb 28, 1968). Boyd would say, “For the last three or four days these reports have been circulating round the film set. But they are just not true. I know why they started. Recently I have taken Miss Bardot out to dine on a couple of occasions in Almeria. But we were not alone – always with a bunch of friends.”

The open affection of these two may have cooled a bit after the rumors hit the fan, but they remained close throughout the film, and even after, as Bardot insisted Boyd accompany here to both the Munich and London premiere of “Shalako”. Boyd was happy to oblige.

Later that year, even producer Euan Lloyd was asked to comment about their relationship. “I’d call it a great friendship. Obviously there’s a real rapport between them. Brigitte wanted Steve to accompany her to Munich, Germany, world premiere of “Shalako” – and he did. Nearly got his clothes tore off for his trouble trying to protect Brigitte from the crowd outside the theater.” (The Indianapolis Star, Oct 11, 1968) (see also

“If Brigitte Bardot’s popularity in Europe is slipping, her fans have a funny way of showing it. The Munich premiere of “Shalako” resulted in near disaster for the star and Stephen Boyd. Excited fans overturned the couple’s car, ripped Stephen’s $500 tuxedo to shreds and almost kidnapped Brigitte before police could wrest her from the shouting throng…Too bad some of that enthusiasm didn’t rub off on the critics who saw “Shalako”. (Valley News, Nov 3, 1968)


Boyd and Bardot nearly cause a riot at the Shalako premiere in Munich

The film was met with mixed reviews, but luckily for Stephen, his performance was probably the most highly praised of all the actors. He certainly is the most entertaining! Boyd looks super sexy and ruggedly handsome in his rakish whiskers and western jeans. He just lights up the screen with his portrayal of bad boy Bosky Fulton . I enjoy seeing him so much with Brigitte again, even though the scenes they  have together are very brief. Brigitte’s performance, unfortunately, was panned, and her discomfort with speaking English can clearly be seen. Boyd’s lusty romance with Honor Blackman in the film is all too brief, as they have great chemistry on screen together. Of course,  Sean Connery gives a solid performance as the stoic hero, and he works very well with Boyd – The Scotsman vs the Irishman! I also enjoy Jack Hawkins as the cuckolded husband who eventually gets his revenge. But there could have been so much more between all these characters with a better script.  Honestly, the behind the scenes action with Bardot and Boyd was more entertaining than the movie itself!

“Sean Connery came away from “Shalako” with 30 percent piece of the take while Brigitte Bardot and Stephen Boyd came away from it with each other.”

“…a British aristocrat [Jack Hawkins] and his hot-eyed wife [Honor Blackman], who lusts after the party’s crude, leering guide [played by Stephen Boyd, who off-screen leered after someone else.] (Chicago Tribune, Nov 11, 1968)

“”Shalako” probably won’t win any new converts to Westerns. It’s too silly, for one thing, and too gory, for another….Couldn’t the brave, good cowboy, instead of the brave, bad cowboy, get killed, just once? Or would it not be possible for the treacherous woman to escape a cruel death at the hands of the Indians, against incredible odds, and to have the honorable lady succumb instead, to the very same odds? ” (Detroit Free Press, Nov 18, 1968)

Boyd as the ruggedly handsome cowboy villain in Shalako

I must say, it will be awesome to see the film cleaned up for Blu-Ray. I greatly anticipate sitting down to watch this release as soon as it arrives on my doorstep courtesy of!

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Honor Blackman falls for Stephen Boyd in “Shalako” 1968

On-screen it was BB and Connery, but off-screen it was BB and Boyd.

Boyd as the rakish Bosky Fulton
Boyd and Blackman


Stephen Boyd explains Brigitte Bardot and Ava Gardner appeal, 1958

“A bundle of curves” : Ava Gardner and Brigitte Bardot

French Sexpot Described by British Actor

By Lee Belser

Corsicana Daily Sun March 3, 1958

It isn’t necessary to be a sexpot to be a movie star, but it helps.

In the case of France’s Brigitte Bardot it is phenomenal and in the words of one of her recent co-stars “she is even Frenchier than the French.”

Stephen Boyd, a moody-looking Britisher is on location here with “The Bravados” company just finished a picture in Spain with the French sex kitten.

“She is terrific,” He said. “She knows just what she’s doing and where the money is coming from.”

Doubts Temperamental

Bardot, whose films are drawing American customers by the thousands, is reportedly one of the wealthiest gals in France and one of the most temperamental.

“I don’t really think she’s temperamental,” said Boyd, “She just does as she pleases and if she takes a notion to stop working for a few days the company waits until she decides to come back.”

This procedure would go over like a lead balloon in Hollywood, but Bardot’s French film bosses seem to thrive on it and financially the returns couldn’t be better.

Boyd explains her success in a few well chosen words:

“She gives adults that same feeling of sneaking cookies out of the cupboard that they had at the age of six.

“They giggle and try to explain their interest as pure amusement, but actually it’s their animal adolescence showing.”

Amazed at Cowboy Role

The tall, slender actor who is rather amazed to find himself, a Britisher, playing the role of a cowboy in an American movie, says there’s only one Hollywood actress who has the same type of glamour.

“And that’s Ava Gardner,” he declared. “She’s older but she had the same animal magnetism. It’s the sort of thing that the man in the street can’t resist. It’s a symbol of things that are not openly discussed.”

“Neither Gardner not Bardot would ever have to act,” he added. “All they have to do it appear and the impact would heat up an asbestos wall.”

Boyd, who is known to American audiences chiefly for his portrayal as “the man who never was,” is being hailed as the greatest screen find since James Mason, but he laughed and said:

“How can a mere hunk of man compete with a bundle of curves like Brigitte Bardot?”

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Stephen Boyd and Brigitte Bardot in the racy “The Night Heaven Fell” film from 1958

Stephen Boyd talks about his famous co- star Brigitte Bardot, 1958

Best of Hollywood

Joe Hyams, Philadelphia Inquirer, February 13, 1958

One of the world’s most envied men is here starring in ‘The Bravados,’ a film for 20th Century Fox. His name is Stephen Boyd. He is a handsome Irishman, but what sets him apart from other men is his last film, ‘The Night Heaven Fell,’ in which he was Brigitte Bardot’s leading man.

Boyd worked with Miss Bardot for 22 weeks last summer. As one might imagine, it was an interesting experience from start of finish. As an authority on Miss Bardot and a man who has seen her in the flesh, Boyd is a popular after-dinner conversationalist everywhere he goes.

Recently, he recalled for us the circumstances of his first meeting with Miss Bardot. “I went to her house in Paris with Roger Vadim, her about-to-be-ex-husband, and director of our film. Brigitte was in bed, nude. When we came into the room she jumped out of bed and kissed Vadim. Then she kissed me and said, ‘I know I’m going to enjoy working with you.’”

Since Boyd brought up the subject of Miss Bardot in her customary film wardrobe we asked if it was difficult playing a scene with her under such circumstances.

“No,” he said.

Was it disconcerting, we asked.

“No,” said Boyd, “it was just embarrassing, but enjoyable. In fact, I never enjoyed anything so much in my life. And to think I got paid for it.”

What do you think is the secret of Miss Bardot’s fascination, we asked.

“I think she has a higher percentage of animal in her than any other woman on the screen. When she moves it’s like a panther and she gives off an attractive sheen whether dressed or not.”

Is she intelligent?

“I think she is a bright girl, but she’s not a woman. I don’t think she has grown up yet. She is like a wild child. Her complete life has been movies and there’s no one in France who can control her or who dares say no to her. She had had her own way too long.”

Is she an easy actress to work with?

“You used the word ‘actress’, not me. I’m not sure I want to work with her again, but I’d sure like to see her again.”

Boyd said two versions of the film were made in French and Spanish and English and Spanish. The censors have already cut some of the love scenes and trimmed some dialogue.

Boyd said when he started the film he spoke no French. “When the picture was over, however, I used to quote from the script in French to my date,” he said. “It was quite a success.”

Brigitte Bardot hosts a St. Patrick’s Party for Stephen Boyd, March 1968

Happy St. Patrick’s week everyone! I am having a great time this week putting together obscure Stephen Boyd –  St. Patrick’s Day related stuff, so enjoy.

During the filming of Shalako in Almeria, Spain in March of 1968, Brigitte Bardot took the time to host a special St. Patrick’s Day party for her friend Stephen Boyd. This was a tumultuous time for Bardot. Her husband Gunther Sachs was pushing for a divorce as rumors were spreading like wildfire about Bardot and Boyd on the set of Shalako. Both Bardot and Boyd were denying that they were anything but good friends, but the overt displays of affection were causing quite a stir.  Bardot had tried to alleviate her husband’s fears by taking a short retreat to Switzerland with him during the early part of March 1968. When she returned to Spain, she promptly organized what columnist Dorothy Manners described as a ‘St Patrick’s Day’ birthday party for Stephen Boyd. Here’s the newspaper snippet from March 27, 1968. It describes Boyd as ‘one of BB’s favorite admirers on and off the set.’

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Anderson Daily Bulletin, March 27, 1968

Bardot and Boyd on the set of SHALAKO in 1968- more than ‘good friends?’

“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 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

“Good at Research- Stephen Boyd Serious in Romantic Ventures” by Joe Hyams, Interview from 1960

Joe Hyams, a Hollywood journalist and also the future husband of actress Elke Sommer, wrote some interesting articles about Stephen Boyd – one in 1960 and another in 1962. The below article is from the Toledo Blade in April 28, 1960. In it, Stephen teases about a romantic interest in Brigitte Bardot –‘Let’s hope where there’s smoke, there’s Brigitte’.  He discusses the challenges of being single in Hollywood – ‘Hollywood women outnumber men by at least four to one which means an eligible bachelor is in demand. It’s not only incredible, it’s marvelous.’   He also confesses to being more of a character actor than a leading man – ‘But the fact is I don’t particularly like being a leading man. Those are usually the milk and water parts. they are cliches. the leading man role is created for you whereas the character role is one you create yourself.’  Stephen also anticipates returning to Belfast after being away two years – ‘I know someone’s going to ask me what I’ve been doing since the last time they saw me. I’ll say I’m an actor and then they’ll say, ‘Yes, but what else do you do?’ What will I say then?’