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.
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”.
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.
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)
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).
Boyd 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)
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 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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 https://stephenboydblog.wordpress.com/2016/04/07/brigitte-and-stephen-cause-a-commotion-in-munich-1968/)
“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)
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 Amazon.com!
On-screen it was BB and Connery, but off-screen it was BB and Boyd.
Alexander Knox, Julian Mateos, Sean Connery, Valerie French, Jack Hawkins (im Uhrzeigersinn um den Tisch); Honor Blackman, Brigitte Bardot (im Hintergrund); Stephen Boyd (rechts)
with Honor Blackman and Peter Van Eyck
with Honor Blackman and Peter Van Eyck
with Brigitte Bardot, 1968
at “Shalako” premiere event, 1968 with Diane Cilento