50 years ago Stephen Boyd was filming “Shalako” in Almeria, Spain

It’s hard to believe that 1968 was 50 years ago, but yes, it’s true. During the early part of 1968 Stephen Boyd was busy filming “Shalako” with Sean Connery, Brigitte Bardot, Honor Blackman and Peter Van Eyck near Almeria, Spain.  According to a newspaper article at the time, Stephen was most excited to get to work with both Brigitte and Connery. Steve and Sean were acting buddies at the very beginning of their careers in Ireland while Steve co-starred with Brigitte at the outset of her career in “The Night Heaven Fell.”  (Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Nov 23, 1967)

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Stephen Boyd wines and dines with Brigitte Bardot during “Shalako”

I would very much like to thank mega-Stephen Boyd fan Emmanuel in France for kindly emailing me these amazing behind the scenes photos of Boyd and BB on one of their evenings out during the filming of “Shalako”.  This was when the rumors were flying about a possible romance between the two actors. You can see why!

I wonder what Brigitte Bardot is going to give Stephen Boyd when they finish work on the flicker they’re currently shooting. Last time the twosome co-starred in a movie Brigitte surprised Stephen with a unique and special version of the film. She gathered together all the film censors had deleted as being too sizzling and spliced it together to form her own private version of a stag movie starring Brigitte and Steve. (Hartford Courant, Jan 17, 1968)

Bardot: “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.” (News Castle News, Pennsylvania, Feb 28, 1968)

Bardot: “But I am very upset he (husband Gunther Sachs) will read this report about Stephen Boyd and think maybe there is something to it. Then we will have a row and the stupid people who started this will have achieved their purpose, anyway…Some nights Steve sits at my table, some nights he doesn’t. ”  (El Paso Herald Post, March 2, 1968)

Boyd: “I have no relationship with Miss Bardot–only in the professional sense. I am a professional actor, she is a professional actress…I know why they (rumors) 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. (El Paso Herald Post, March 2, 1968)

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Actor Cesar Lucas posts an Instagram photo with Stephen Boyd from the Shalako set, 1968 (posted April 28, 2018)

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Stephen Boyd and Mikaela in Spain, 1966

Stephen spent a good part of his movie career filming in Spain starting all the way back in 1957 with Brigitte Bardot on “The Night Heaven Fell,”  then again in 1963 for “The Fall of the Roman Empire,” for “Caper of the Golden Bulls” in 1966 , and yet again in 1968 for “Shalako.” Most of the movies Boyd filmed in the 1970’s were made in Spain. He seemed to genuinely enjoy the country for its food, wine, bull-fighting, and its women. At one point he was even dating a female matador! “Steve Boyd is letting his coleta grow (that’s a bullfighter’s pigtail, son) for the femme bullfighter he met in Madrid.” (Pittsburgh Press, Feb 7, 1963)

Boyd enjoys Pamplona during the filming of “The Caper of the Golden Bulls”, 1966

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“Off the set, Boyd spends much of his leisure time playing golf. But he became interested in a new hobby, bullfighting, when he acted opposite Brigitte Bardot in “The Night Heaven Fell”, most of which was filmed in Madrid. The famous Spanish matador Luis Miguel Dominguin, who fought in the bullring in the picture, awakened Boyd’s enthusiasm for the sport.

“Luis taught me how to manipulate the cape,” he says, “and I was almost ready to fight a small bull when I had to leave.” But Boyd is slated to return to Madrid to star in “The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire” and will thus be able to continue working with Dominguin….

“I’ll try anything once,” he says, ” Like any good Irishman.” (Longview News Journal, April 7, 1963)

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Matador Luis Miguel Dominguin

Luckily for Stephen, and the poor bulls, I might add, he did not actually embark on this crazy hobby. But he did get to do a fun photo-op with lovely Spanish songstress Mikaela, who sang many rousing bull-fighting and ‘Toro’ oriented songs in the mid-late 1960’s. Here are some pictures below of the two snuggling, drinking and eating their way through the Spain in 1966 while Stephen was there filming “The Caper of the Golden Bulls”.

Olé!!!

Mikaela

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Stephen Boyd – 50th Anniversary of “The Caper of the Golden Bulls”, 1967

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.[12] 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”!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

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