Stephen Boyd and Pamela Franklin in the “The Third Secret”, 1964

The Third Secret by 20th Century Fox was a very intense drama which Stephen filmed in England during the later part of 1963 (after he had completed The Fall of the Roman Empire and the television movie War of Nerves). Stephen loved the script and apparently he did this movie for a very modest salary.  He became well acquainted with Diane Cilento in this film (the wife of actor Sean Connery) as well as his 14 year old co-star Pamela Franklin. Pamela Franklin had nothing but praise for Stephen as he became good friends with the young actress and enjoyed playing chess with her on the set. The film also features Richard Attenborough and the great Jack Hawkins. It is essentially a British black and white, 60’s noir/psychological thriller. It is great to see Stephen as a complex character in this. He plays Alex Stedman, a world weary news reporter who is roped into investigating the death of his own doctor, the father of Pamela Franklin. Stephen is quiet, intense,  brooding, but also careless of other people’s emotions as he uses them along the way to find out the information he needs. It’s one of Stephen’s best, most understated performances. His interactions with the other actors is superb, especially with Pamela Franklin. Their friendship is unusual, and at one point misconstrued by the young girls uncle. The deep friendship on screen was apparently just a reflection of how well Boyd and Franklin got along off screen.

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“This is Going to Be The Year of the Boyd” 1964 Stephen Boyd Interview by Hedda Hopper

‘This Is Going to Be The Year of the Boyd’
Mar 29, 1964 by Hedda Hopper

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STEPHEN BOYD used to be a man
who wouldn’t see his own movies. I’ve known him to go to premieres, wait in the lobby until the movie was over, collect his date, and leave as tho he’d been part of the audience. He was that casual about his career. Now he tells me:

“I’ve had a change of heart and will go to see movies I make in the future because 1964 is going to be The Year of the Boyd.”

“What on earth do you mean by that?” I asked.

“When you re a theater actor coming into pictures you have a battle,” he re- plied. “In the theater an actor must lose himself in a role. Films are the opposite; movies are a personality business. With films you have to wrap up a package knowing the quality of the picture and your performance, and you still have to sell it. Now I know how to sell it.”

Steve started his acting career with the Ulster Theater group in Ireland when he was eight. When he grew up he journeyed to Canada and traveled thruout the dominion with repertory companies, then went to England. But no brass bands met him in London, and he kept alive by working as a cafeteria attendant and playing tunes on a guitar as a sidewalk entertainer.

By 1957 he had enough money saved up to come to Hollywood and found his first real break-the movies. Two years later he was an international sensation as Messala in “Ben Hur.” Then followed “Jumbo” with Doris Day and a raft of
other films. He has three more on the way: “Imperial Venus” with Gina Lollo- brigida; “The Third Secret” with Diane Cilento [of “Tom Jones” fame]; -and the epic “The Fall of the Roman Empire” with Sophia Loren and Alec Guinness.

When he’s not globe-trotting, Steve enjoys his new home in Palm Springs which he added to the one he already had in the San Fernando valley, and enjoys golf, tennis,. and photography, his favorite pastimes.

Another of Steve’s favorite, pastimes is talking about the screen beauties he s worked with:

“I like Doris Day. She’s the number one American star because she’s kind of an explosion of the girl-next-door, with talent. She’s as explosive as Sophia Loren but not in the same way; one is American, the other Latin.

“Brigitte Bardot? Now there’s really an explosive child! I lost 26 pounds when I worked with her- to keep up with her. But I’d do it again-she’s worth it. I think she’s becoming a better personality and has become more adult.”

Excitement has dominated Steve’s life, but he’s still just a home boy from the old sod at heart.

“My parents still live in Ireland,” Steve said. “My father is 72, and has retired as a truck driver.

“My parents have their own view of me: they’re completely unsophisticated. My mother still tells me what to do and prays for me the way she does for us all. To her, I’m still the youngest of nine children.”

The quiet life’s over for Stephen Boyd. He learned he couldn’t lick ’em, so he joined ’em-the Hollywood drum-beaters who sell, sell, sell.

The Year of the Boyd

Stephen Boyd on his rise to stardom:

“I don’t think I’ve reached the top yet. The struggle is ending and now I can really go-now it’ll be plain sailing.”

Why he won t look at his own movies:

“I’m not the kind of actor I want to watch.”

On Doris Day, Sophia Loren, and Brigitte Bardot:

“The only difference between them is their hair style.”

Is he he missed playing Mare Antonv in “Cleopatra”?

“No. I had other commitments and wanted to get to them. When they were delayed filming ‘Cleo,’ I couldn’t wait for them to get started again. There’ll be other roles just as good. I can wait.”

On his marriage, which quickly ended in divorce:

“I was in love with the girl I married. I’d been with her four months. We married and stayed together 19 days, which was too long. We were fine before marriage, but immediately you sign that little paper making it legal … I’m not altar shy, but I’m not making it legal again.”

On why his movie, “Jumbo,” flopped:

“I have no explanation for it. Why discuss a failure? I’m a great supporter of any picture I’m in, and if there are bad reviews that harm it, it hurts me.”

On who are the greatest lovers:

“I doubt that Latin’s or Frenchmen are great lovers. Their women are all right; they’re pliable. But I’d rather have an Anglo-Saxon.”

 

What’s the Third Secret about Patricia Neal and Stephen Boyd?

Actress Patricia Neal was supposed to be one of the patients Stephen Boyd, as Alec Stedman, investigates during the movie The Third Secret. The scenes of Ms. Neal were filmed but unfortunately,  due to editing constraints, all of her scenes were cut from the final film. Which is a shame- I would have loved to see Stephen and Patricia on screen together! In fact, since she was going to be one of the patients, in the final edit of the movie, you can catch overdubs where Pamela Franklin is saying ‘four’, but you can tell she is saying ‘five’.

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