Stephen Boyd in Westerns : “Montana Trap” (Potato Fritz), 1975

Stephen Boyd started his Hollywood career in a Western (“The Bravados”) in 1958, so in a bittersweet way it is appropriate that he would close out his career (albeit far too early!) with another Western. During 1975 Stephen made a flurry of pictures that were German productions (“Lady Dracula”, “Frauenstation”) and this ‘sauerkraut’ Western called “Montana Trap”, or “Potato Fritz”, or “The Massacre at Condor Pass”. It was directed by Peter Schamoni, whose own relatives had immigrated to Montana in the 1860’s. The film was shot primarily in Almeria, Spain, the same location as “Shalako” (1968). Most of the cast was German, including it’s main star, the always delightful Hardy Krüger (“The Flight of the Phoenix”), who actually started out in movies around the same time as Stephen did. He became one of the biggest German stars of the 1960’s. For more about Hardy’s very interesting life in Germany during and before WWII, see IMDB bio here. Veteran German actor Anton Diffring also co-stars as Lieutenant Slade.

The movie starts off with a flashback to a massacre of an army unit on the march in rough Indian country transporting gold funds for both the settlers and the Indians who have been displaced. After the massacre, some rifles are stolen, but the gold disappears. A certain Captain Henry escapes the attack, unbeknownst to his attackers. However the attackers were not Indians but white men dressed up as Indians, which no one yet realizes. These men rule the isolated settlement beyond the pass (which includes some settlers alongside these ruffians), and because of their predicament (which they blame on the Indians), they are trapped here.

Along comes Bill Addison (Stephen Boyd), who rides unscathed into this settlement to the surprise of the settlers and the roughnecks in town. He’s on the hunt for this legendary cache of lost gold. He settles into the saloon to sample some of the local whiskey. Potato Fritz (Hardy Krüger) arrives next, looking for his next drink to ease the sorrow of this trampled potato crop. His small abode has just been ransacked again, this time by the real Indians. He is an pacifist farmer who lives with a baby black bear and a cow out in the wilderness. He keeps his weapons tied up on a pole to show the Indians he means them no harm. When he arrives in town, he is known by everyone there and mocked for his drinking and quirky behavior. Of course, Addison takes an interest in this character as well. Addison hints that he is looking for the aforementioned Captain Henry who is presumed dead among the massacred soldiers. Henry had a reputation for dispensing justice by shooting criminals through the wrist. Addison had been one of his unfortunate victims.

As the story develops, these two form a tumultuous bond of sorts which, after a knock-down-drag-out brawl in the dirt, becomes a cooperative understanding. They work together to help the settlers get through the pass eventually, and also dispense their own justice against of the ‘gang’ of ruffians who had been terrorizing the pass. In the end it is revealed that Potato Fritz was the long lost Captain Henry all along. Addison reveals his wound in the wrist to Captain Henry before riding off into the proverbial sunset…and so does Stephen Boyd as he exits his final Western.

Stephen wears a full beard in this movie. He looks older in this film – graying and definitely thinner – yet still handsome. His hair is as thick and curly as ever and his bright blue eyes sparkle, along with that wry, mischievous grin. He continues to wear Western clothes with a certain flair and swagger. I especially like the silk scarf he ties around his neck, one of his favorite Western fashions it seems. He wears an almost identical scarf like this in “The Man Called Noon” and “Shalako”.

I really enjoy the chemistry between Hardy and Stephen in this film. They really seem to have liked each other’s company and they certainly work great on screen together with a true mutual respect for one another. It is sobering to think that they would have been co-stars again in “The Wild Geese” had it not been for Stephen’s untimely death in 1977.

Luckily there is a fairly decent DVD version of this movie available on www.ioffer.com aand Amazon (Germany).

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During the filming of “Shalako”, Brigitte Bardot and Stephen Boyd enjoy taking pictures–of each other!

In early 1968, Stephen Boyd and Brigitte Bardot were quite enamored with each other during the making of “Shalako”. The pair had become good friends back in 1957 while filming “The Night Heaven Fell”, and had meet at least twice since, once in 1960 in Paris and also in London during 1961. In 1969, a journalist teased Stephen that he never met up with BB between husbands! 

Steve Boyd is one of the nicest leading men in the industry. I’ve never known him to be anything but gentlemanly (darn it!) Recently, I asked him if his romance with Brigutte Bardot was real. “She is a lovely woman, but she is married. I’ve known her for many years, and she has always been married, not to the same man, however.” Steve, how come you play it safe and never meet up with her between marriages, hmmmm? (Detroit Free Press, July 27, 1969)

Nevertheless, now that the two actors were older, somehow the chemistry mix between them was just right. The vulnerable and emotional Bardot, on the brink of another divorce, this time with German millionaire Günther Sachs, was in need of a protective, friendly, warm, gentle shoulder to lean on and Stephen, of course, stepped into that role perfectly. Around the set of Shalako they became virtually inseparable. The photos below show a glimpse of their special personal chemistry and what Shalako producer Euan Lloyd called a “great friendship”.

For more about Brigitte and Stephen, see https://stephenboydblog.com/stephen-boyd-and-brigitte-bardot/

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“Bardot by Boyd….”Boyd by Bardot”

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Stephen Boyd in Westerns: “The Man Called Noon”, 1973

In the early to mid-1970’s, Stephen Boyd did more westerns than he had his entire career. The spaghetti western trend inspired by Sergio Leone’s 1964 classic “A Fistful of Dollars” with Clint Eastwood had created an entire genre that was still lucrative even into the mid 1970’s, when it finally started to fade. This project was yet another collaboration with producer Euan Lloyd, who had previously worked with Boyd on “Genghis Khan” in 1965, “Shalako” in 1968, and “Catlow” in 1971, which Boyd had also helped produce.

According to a November 1970 Variety news item, producer Euan Lloyd was planning to make five Westerns based on the books of Louis L’Amour. Actor Stephen Boyd, who was Lloyd’s partner in Frontier Films, was to appear in each film, and according to a November 1970 Daily Variety news item, Boyd was to star with Yul Brynner in Catlow, which was to be the initial production in the cycle. Lloyd and Boyd only made only one other film based on a L’Amour novel, the 1973 picture The Man Called Noon, which also starred Richard Crenna. (http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/23872/Catlow/notes.html)

“The Man Called Noon” was the third in the Louis L’Amour trilogy (“Shalako” and “Catlow” being the first and second installments). “The Man Called Noon” is definitely the best of all of their productions. Luckily this movie has finally made it to Blu-Ray here in the North America region, which is fantastic, since the film is very cinematic.

mancallednoonimgwatermark.actionCrenna, Schiaffino and Boyd during the filming of “The Man Called Noon” from http://www.lafototeca.com

The filming took place in Spain (it seems every Boyd movie at this time was filmed there!) during September and October of 1972. It was apparently one of the wettest seasons ever in the Castile region, according to an interview of Euan Lloyd at the time.

“You learn early in the game how important cover sets are in adventure pictures. We’ve been shooting in the 12th century castle Manzanares all week, where we have two covered sets, so we never get caught with out pants down.”  (Los Angeles Times on Oct 22, 1972)

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Richard Crenna (“Wait Until Dark”) is the actual lead in the picture. He portrays a man trying to remember his own identity after suffering from amnesia. Boyd plays his friendly but shifty tag-a-long, an outlaw by the name of Rimes. Lovely Italian star Rosanna Schiaffino (“El Greco”) is Crenna’s love interest, newcomer Patty Shepard is a black-clad bad-girl, and Alfred Hitchcock veteran actor Farley Granger is the town judge/ scheming villain.

Boyd puts on one of this best performances in this movie in my opinion. He is a rascally character, but he has a good heart and it shows through in how he interacts with Crenna’s amnesiac gun-for-hire. You can’t really imagine two more mellow fellows on screen than Crenna and Boyd. They are both such polite gentleman in real life that the ease of their relationship on screen is completely convincing. It is one of Boyd’s best ‘buddy’ movies, which he made so rarely. The movie was directed by Peter Collinson (“The Italian Job”), with amazing cinematography work by John Cabrera (“Conan the Barbarian”), and an equally classic atmospheric score by the prolific Italian composer Luis Bacalov (“One Man Against the Organization” and “Django”)

The movie was released in the summer of 1973.  The MPAA rating was R as movie censors objected to two violent scenes.  “As luck would have it, the Dallas rating board was meeting the day of our world premiere there. Producer Euan Lloyd, author Louis L’Amour, Steve Boyd and I all appeared before the board and argued our case. Then we invited the whole board to the premiere. After they saw the picture, they ordered the theatre to take down the “Not suitable for children” sign and gave it a PG rating.” (Richard Crenna interview, Pensacola News Journal, August 7, 1973) Despite this triumph in Dallas, the rated R remained on the film elsewhere, and even today on the Blu-Ray release.

The movie received very good reviews as the time.

The film abounds in atmospheric riches thanks to John Cabrera’s dynamic poetic photography. Wind-swept ghost towns look like ghost towns instead of a back lot at Universal Studios…Luis Bacalov’s musical score is both beautifully rousing and subtle…

Three actors in the film give the best performances of their respective careers: Richard Crenna, Stephen Boyd and Farley Granger. Mr. Crenna…suffuses virility with a boyish sense of abandonment that demands unwavering attention. Stephen Boyd as Crenna’s sarcastic sidekick is comically memorable as he lopes along with dollar signs for eyes. Farley Granger, long absent from films, is wonderfully Mephistophalean as an egocentric judge. (Prospector, El Paso, July 19, 1973).

Fullscreen capture 4192017 120126 PM.bmpBoyd simmers as the mischievous yet sincere Rimes in “The Man Called Noon”, 1973

It’s good rowdy shoot-em up fun. Crenna is suitably strong and mysterious in the great tradition of Western heroes, and Steve Boyd is something of a surprise in the role of his badman friend who has a sense of humor. (Dorothy Manners, The Danville Register, April 11, 1973)

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Be sure to check out the current Blu-Ray release of “The Man Called Noon”!

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Stephen Boyd in “The Man Called Noon” – as handsome as ever.