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. (

“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

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)


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.

Stephen Boyd in Westerns : “Shalako”, 1968

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 ( 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

“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)

Boyd as the ruggedly handsome cowboy villain in Shalako

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!

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Honor Blackman falls for Stephen Boyd in “Shalako” 1968

On-screen it was BB and Connery, but off-screen it was BB and Boyd.

Boyd as the rakish Bosky Fulton
Boyd and Blackman


Stephen Boyd has Respect for Stars of Westerns while filming “The Fall of the Roman Empire”, 1963

HOLLYWOOD (AP) – Stephen Boyd writes from Madrid that his current role on “The Fall of the Roman Empire” has given him new respect for Western stars. Boyd is on horseback or chariot for most of the picture and says he is learning a new style of acting.

“It’s one thing to be able to act and another thing to ride a horse, ” says the rugged young actor. “But when you have to act on the back of a horse, this opens up an new field – horseback acting.”

“An actor can easily step into a close-up on the exact mark set by the cameraman but riding into a close-up or stopping the beast on the exact spot required is, no pun intended,  a horse of a different color”

Feb 17, 1963, Express and News, San Antonio



Stephen Boyd in Westerns : “The Bravados”, 1958

Is it rape or romance for Stephen Boyd and Kathleen Gallant in “The Bravados”? Twentieth Century Fox seemed to want it both ways, so they issued some press photos hinting at romance and other photos showing quite the opposite. The gorgeous color photo in the center could seemingly be a visual for the biblical definition of ‘Lust’!

When Stephen Boyd first arrived in Hollywood, his first project was a western called “The Bravados.”  The movie was filmed from January to April 1958, and it was released later that same year in the summer. The cast left for Morelia,  Mexico on January 27th of 1958, but before leaving, some of them (including Boyd) were given extensive horseback riding lessons at the Fat Jones Stables in North Hollywood. “Fat Jones Stables was the top supplier of horses and horse wranglers to the movies for 51 years.” (  Stephen Boyd had never been on a horse before, so Fox Studios was going to transform this young Irishman into a gun-toting, tough, horse-back riding outlaw. And they did a great job!

Stephen Boyd meets is his new equine partner for “The Bravados” at the Fat Jones Stables in North Hollywood. Boyd would soon be transformed by Hollywood into a horse-riding Western outlaw for his role in “The Bravados”.  It was a worthwhile investment for Stephen. He would also use his horse-riding skills in many future movies, including “Ben Hur” and “Fall of the Roman Empire”.

“Four very saddle-sore performers are Stephen Boyd, Ken Scott, Barry Coe and Kathleen Gallant, who’ll go to Mexico to appear with Gregory Peck in “The Bravados.” None of the quartet ever has done any riding to speak of before. All have been taking lessons. As a result, the entire group was allowed to receive their out-of-the-country shots in the arm instead of the usual place.” (The Evening Independent, Jan 27, 1958.)   Ken Scott, incidentally, would become one of Boyd’s best friends and golfing buddies. He appeared in two more of Boyd’s films – “Woman Obsessed” and later on “Fantastic Voyage.”

“The Bravados” Posters: capitalizing on Stephen Boyd’s ravishment of Kathleen Gallant in the movie

More adventures were to come on location in Mexico in the area of San Jose Purua, Morelia, Uruapan, and Guadalajara. The entire cast, except the Director, developed Montezuma’s Revenge. “Gregory Peck miraculously escaped serious injury or more when he rolled off his horse as the mount slipped and tumbled down an 80-foot cliff. Joan Collins got nipped by a scorpion. Stephen Boyd, the Irish Star, was kicked in the leg by his own steed and was rendered, you might say, horse de combat for a fortn’t. Kathleen Gallant, one time ‘Miss New Hampshire,’ making her film debut, was tossed by her own nag and landed unceremoniously on the hip pocket of her well-fitted jeans. Lee Van Cleef ripped a king sized gash in his shootin’ hand falling down another gully…” (Philadelphia Enquirer Apr 7 1958.)

Stephen Boyd would later mention that the “Bravados”, of all the movies he himself made, was his favorite. It is a remarkable performance, considering also the level of transformation Boyd undertook to become Zachary, the main villain of the film. The movie is based on a western novel by Frank O’Rourke and directed by veteran director Henry King (“The Song of Bernadette”). The excellent soundtrack by Alfred Newman (“The Robe”)  and Huge Friedhofer (“Woman Obsessed”) is both rousing and unsettling. The cinematography of the prolific Leon Shamroy (“Cleopatra”, “The King and I”, “The Egyptian” and “Planet of the Apes) is also outstanding with the Mexican scenery and blue-lit night scenes.

The movie takes the basic revenge plot of the novel but turns it into something even more interesting.  Gregory Peck portrays a tall, quiet, brooding man, Jim Douglas, who arrives in a quiet little town called Rio Arriba to watch four men hang. When he arrives he meets a former female acquaintance named Josefa, played by Joan Collins, who tries to rekindle their relationship with no luck. Douglas is hardened by the death of his wife, who was raped and killed by these men (or so he thinks) and who he has tracked to this town. When Peck meets the men in the jail, you finally get a look at the ‘bad boys’, and they truly emanate menace. Stephen Boyd plays Zach, the ringleader of a gang which consists of Parral, Lujan and Taylor, played respectively by Lee Van Cleef (“For a Few Dollars More”), Henry Silva (“Ocean’s Eleven”) and Albert Salmi (“The Unforgiven”). Boyd looks the part of an outlaw with a rugged, unshaven look, reddish hair, and a subtle Irish accent. 

Boyd, Silva, Van Cleef and Salmi

These four actors make the outlaws the highlight of this film. Parral (Van Cleef) is the half-breed who seems to worry about everything; Lujan (Silva) is the stoic, cunning Native American who is the only one to survive the wrath of Douglas; Taylor (Salmi) is the gambler; and Zach (Boyd) is the unspoken leader whose main weakness his rapacity for women. Stephen’s Zachary is a perfect precursor to Ben Hur’s Messala – he seems to radiate evil intentions from the start, with his blue eyes glittering lustfully when he asks the sheriff why he didn’t bring them ‘a woman’.  The prisoners make their desperate escape from the jail, but not before Zach nabs a female hostage Emma, played by Kathleen Gallant, for his own libidinous needs. The renegades immediately start to turn on one another as the townspeople and Douglas (Peck) are in hot pursuit.  Meanwhile, Zach plays a cat-and-mouse game with the kidnapped girl Emma, toying with the rope she is bound with suggested arousal and trying to get a moment alone with her. His plans keep getting interrupted.

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Boyd and Gallant: cat-and-mouse

There are even glimmers of the Sergio Leone spaghetti western “For a Few Dollars More” in this film as Gregory Peck keeps a photo of his wife and daughter in a gold pocket watch. Lee Van Cleef carries a similar, sentimental pocket watch in “For a Few Dollars” as he seeks revenge for his sister. The scene in which Douglas takes his revenge on Parral (Van Cleef) as he pleads his innocence is especially unsettling – it feels more like an execution than justice. Douglas catches up with Taylor next in the woods. The posse finds Taylor hanging upside down from a tree, dead, after Douglas has had his way with him. The sheriff’s early reproof of Douglas for suggesting using a tree instead of a gallows for the outlaws (“They came here to be hanged, not lynched”), echo back to the audience disconcertingly.

“The Bravados” and “A Few Dollars More” both use the sentimental pocket watch to great effect
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Peck gets the best of Lee Van Cleef in “The Bravados”

The best scene is towards the end of the film when Lujan, Zach, and Emma approach a small cabin looking for food and fresh horses. The cabin is owned by one of Jim Douglas’s neighbors, a miner named John Butler, played by Gene Evans. Ironically, as we shall see later, this is the man who actually killed Douglas’s wife and raped her – not Zach (Boyd).  Once inside, the renegades ransack the cabin and shoot the miner as he tries to run off with the gold he stole from the Douglas ranch. Zach is left inside with Emma alone and the inevitable, fateful climax occurs. The rape scene, which is filmed with brutal effect with no soundtrack music, happens very fast. Zach lunges across the cabin room as Emma tries to escape. With the entire back of her dress already ripped asunder, the helpless girl is roughly seized by Zach and their struggle continues inside. The cabin door slowly swings open with the actors out of sight, but we hear the sound of the girl’s guttural cries of anguish and Zach’s brutish growls. We don’t see what’s happening, but the effect is even more chilling.


All the while the serene Lujan waits patiently outside as he greedily hides the gold found on the dead miner. The two abscond from the scene as soon as Lujan sees what he thinks is the ‘posse’ approaching. It’s actually Josefa and the sheriff. Meanwhile, Douglas has broken off from the townspeople to seek his own personal vendetta, finding Zach in a small Mexican cantina across the border.  Once again, Douglas presents his gold pocket watch and the photo of his wife to Zach.  He goads the baffled Zach into a gunfight and kills him. Then, unrelenting, Douglas chases down Lujan to his family home. It is here where Douglas finally understands that he’s been chasing the wrong men this whole time. Lujan explains where he found the gold.  Peck plays this scene perfectly. Horrified and sickened by this revelation , he braces himself on the ground and clasps his hands together as he realizes just how far his revenge has taken him. He was about to kill both Lujan and possibly Lujan’s wife and child. Guilt-ridden, Douglas returns to Rio Arriba to find solace with Josefa and his own young daughter and the grateful townsfolk.

Boyd plays the role of Zach brilliantly in this film. After “The Bravados” was completed in late April of 1958, Boyd was notified that he had been awarded the coveted role of Messala in William Wyler’s “Ben-Hur” for MGM. He was on a plane to Rome to start filming this iconic biblical epic the next month. Next to Messala in “Ben-Hur”, “The Bravados” might be Boyd’s best villainous role. This would be Boyd’s first western, but certainly not his last. He would film an additional five westerns later in his career. More on those to come in future blogs. for more about The Bravados

The most memorable scene from “The Bravados” – the rape. Kathleen Gallant’s blouse, which cost about $1.25, “had to be specially sown so that it could be ripped off her back by Stephen Boyd when he roughs her up in the movie.  But 12 retakes were needed for the scene, so 12 specially sewn blouses had to be provided. Total cost for the blouses : $800.” (Pittsburgh Press, March 15, 1959)



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Stephen Boyd in Westerns : “Hannie Caulder”, 1971 (Raquel Welch)



Stephen Boyd spent the better part of 1971 making films in Spain. It’s a little difficult to track the order of the movies, but it seems like he started with “Marta”, visited the set of “Hannie Caulder” for literally two days, filmed “Kill!” and “The Great Swindle”.

“Hannie Caulder” was the second time Stephen worked with Raquel Welch – the first time, of course, being the science-fiction movie “The Fantastic Voyage.”  This is one of my favorite westerns of the 1970’s.  Stephen’s role is almost a cameo as he wasn’t even listed as a member of the cast in the credits or on the movie poster.  I think it’s gorgeously filmed, and I think it’s one of Raquel Welch’s best roles. It was directed by veteran Western director Burt Kennedy. The story truly places Raquel Welch as one of the first female action stars of cinema, along with blax-sploitation star Pam Grier, in my opinion. The poster’s announce the arrival of “The First Lady Gunfighter!” Welch portrays Hannie Caulder, a woman who loses her husband to a band the three renegade Clemens brothers, portrayed with equal depravity by actors Ernest Borgnine, Jack Elam and Strother Martin. Hannie endures a horrific rape and loses everything she has when the Clemens brothers set fire to her homestead. Left to die, Hannie attaches herself to a wandering bounty-hunter, the mellow Robert Culp, and learns how to become a gunfighter herself, wearing a poncho which barely manages to cover her most revealing curves.   She eventually kills all three brothers in her passion for revenge. Amidst all of this, we see a bearded Christopher Lee show up as a serene gunsmith, British sex-queen Diana Dors as a local town Madame, and Stephen Boyd as a mysterious character called the Preacher, dressed in black, who acts as Hannie’s guardian angel of sorts. With the Preacher’s tacit assistance, Hannie gets the chance to kill off the final Clemens brother. In the end, Hannie rides off into the desert with the Preacher as her companion and the body of the slain Clemens, suggesting that Hannie herself will become a bounty-hunter. Sequel anyone?

The Evening Herald had this to say about Stephen’s lack of prominence in the movie credits; “Irish actor (a good one) Stephen Boyd’s in Raquel Welch’s Hannie Caulder film with Raque’s name and cantilevered statistics emblazoned circus style over everything: longtime star Boyd’s not even billed.”

From Joe Cushnan’s unofficial Boyd biography, “Stephen Boyd: From Belfast to Hollywood,” Boyd is quoted from the Sunday Express saying this about his role.

“In Hollywood, if an actor plays a tiny part in a film just because he fancies the role, everyone thinks he’s on the skids. I was offered such a part in Hannie Caulder, two days work played a preacher. I said yes and everyone thought I was mad. So I played it under the name Nephets Dyob, which is more or less my name spelled backwards.”

Cushnan goes on to say this about Boyd’s performance;  “…he maintained a strong presence on screen in his scenes, despite his character’s silence and he exuded enough earnest menace via his facial expressions to make the audience take notice of him.” I agree. Boyd’s scenes are very cinematic, and his mystery truly makes one want to know who this character is.  Stephen Boyd’s Preacher has a sexy,  sinister appeal. He is dapperly dressed in black and he doesn’t speak a word. The only communication is a few meaningful glances which he aims in Hannie Caulder’s direction. In the movie- tie in novel by William Terry, The Preacher (or rather Boyd) is aptly described:

 “He was handsome, with clear blue eyes and a generous mouth above a strong jawline, but the basic good looks of his features were offset by a rugged toughness, the effect exaggerated by the two day’s stubble that sprouted across his lower face. His all black attire, relieved only by a white shirt, gave him a ministerial effect. But this was immediately erased by the long barreled Baily pistols which he wore, hung at each hip from an ornate gun belt.”


Stephen Boyd as The Preacher in “Hannie Caulder”, 1971

I enjoy seeing Welch and Boyd on-screen together, albeit briefly, from having been co-stars in “The Fantastic Voyage” at the very start of Welch’s career.  Welch looks absolutely stunning and voluptuous as always in this role. Welch has since admitted to having a huge crush on Boyd during the filming of “The Fantastic Voyage.” One wonders what the feelings were during this brief meeting about 6 years later. It is also awesome to see Stephen Boyd and Hammer- Dracula star Christopher Lee in the same slice of film, in addition to having Boyd confront his old “Oscar” nemesis Ernest Borgnine.

As to the filming of the project, it took place mostly around Almeria, Spain, which has become quite a filming hot spot. Boyd had been there previously for “Shalako” in 1968, and had worked close to that area way back in 1957 on “The Night Heaven Fell.” Apparently the filming of “Hannie Caulder” was somewhat tumultuous.  Raquel Welch was quite the diva, with her entourage rather rudely chasing away Spanish photographers and creating tension on the set, causing one crew member to comment; “Ernie Borgnine’s a better actor in a bathtub than Raquel Welch is out of one.” Ouch!  The actors split into two camps – Raquel and her publicity people on one side, and on the other, Borgnine, Elam, Martin and the Director. “It’s like a circus sometimes, but you know, I think, or hope, that we will have a good movie,” said Director Burt Kennedy.  Who knows where Robert Culp ended up, other than he was injured by a poison sea urchin during the film project and also battled Welch in an apparent clash of personalities. To top it off, Raquel Welch divorced her husband Patrick Curtis shortly after the filming of this movie was a wrap.

Star power! Hammer Horror veteran Christopher Lee meets Stephen Boyd as the mysterious Preacher in 1971’s  “Hannie Caulder”


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