Stephen Boyd’s last feature film, The Squeeze, directed by Michael Apted (Gorky Park, Coal Miner’s Daughter), is a gritty, 70’s British crime drama starring an impressively British-accented Stacy Keach, Edward Fox, and David Hemmings. It’s a stunning cast, and an equally entertaining crime romp through the streets and back by-ways of London. For Stephen, this was one of those rare film opportunities where he could actually use and enhance his native Ulster brogue with great affect. Boyd portrays an Irish gangster, Vic , and his performance is chilling and effective, especially when countered against the more refined (and cautiously nervous) David Hemmings as his partner. Carol White is excellent as the kidnapped woman who frets for her daughter’s safety and uses all her wiles to try to turn her captors favor. She runs into a wall, however, when confronting Vic, and the climax of a heist-gun-kidnap battle on the streets of London-town is riveting. Boyd, at this time in his career, seemed ready to take on the long coveted character parts he had always cherished. It is sad that his untimely end came at a moment when his career could have taken off in a fascinating new direction.
Many thanks to Emmanuel in France for finding the below interview of Stacy Keach about The Squeeze.
CD: In the late 70s you obviously worked in Italy a little bit and also made a terrific British thriller called THE SQUEEZE .
|As Jim Naboth in Michael Apted’s THE SQUEEZE with Freddie Starr|
SK: Oh I love that film. Michael Apted.
CD: It’s a film that still hits quite hard even now, nearly 40 years on. Is there a difference between working on a British set with a British crew and working on an American set.
SK: I love the tea breaks [laughs]. No, not really no. When I shot LUTHER, Freddie Young the cameraman, my God I’ll never forget, he was in his late 70s and he came bounding into the studio one morning saying “I’m going to direct my first movie”, he was so excited. He was something else, he never stopped working, he was a genius at lighting, David Lean certainly took advantage of that.
But no, British crews are great. You know I like shooting where we’re not taking breaks every half an hour, which happens in America, I like to just keep moving… keep moving and keep going forward. You know it’s good for the actors too because nothing frustrates an actor more than sitting around and getting ready to go and then being told it’s not time yet because something has to be fixed. What you learn as the years go by is that you never get everything on the first take – something’s going to be off, you just know you’re not going to hit it, but that takes years of experience.
CD: In THE SQUEEZE one of the particular strengths of that film I think is the vivid use of locations and that really gives it a grounding in reality; I imagine those location shoots were quite lively.
SK: Oh they were indeed yes. Gosh yes – you’re bringing it all back in my head. Stephen Boyd. He was so great. It was so tragic though he died so young. He was great to work with. Same with David Hemmings. And Carol White.
CD: It was another film with a superb cast: Edward Fox was also in it. And Freddie Starr of course.
SK: Freddie Starr was great. One day he’d come out and spit on my windshield, I couldn’t believe it, he thought he was being funny. He is good in the film though, he’s very good. And he was fun to work with… most of the time! As a stand-up comedian he was… always on. He was very popular then.
A couple more excellent blog posts about The Squeeze below, as well as my own little The Squeeze Tribute on YouTube!