Listen for the Stephen Boyd references in the first part of this interview compilation!
The details of the spectacular scenery of former Yugoslavia really come to life as well as the costumes, set pieces and vivid colors! Bravo Twilight Time!
I just found this 16mm reel on EBay recently and had it digitally converted. Some of the footage appears in “Hollywood Remembers Stephen Boyd”, but it also includes lots of new footage as well from the making of “Genghis Khan” in Yugoslavia. Who knows how long it has been since this production short has been seen by anyone? Amazing!!
Below, Stephen looks ruggedly handsome in these very rare behind-the-scenes moments of the filming of “Genghis Khan” with co-stars Eli Wallach, Francoise Dorleac and Omar Sharif.
Looking at Hollywood, by Hedda Hopper
STEVE BOYD IS BACK FROM STINT ABROAD
Hollywood, Dec 28, 1964 – Steve Boyd, who spent more than half of this year in Europe for “Genghis Khan” and “The Bible,” finally came to a halt at Twentieth Century Fox for “The Fantastic Voyage,” which puts him on the sets Jan.5 for 85 days….
“I was over four months in Yugoslavia with Omar Sharif and Francoise Dorleac, a wonderful experience,” Steve said. “It’s the only country I’ve hit where United States aid is appreciated. All housing build with our money flies American flags atop buildings and the people are cordial and express their gratitude. I reported back here for “Voyage” to learn it was postponed a month, so accepted John Huston’s offer to play Nimrod, which fitted neatly into the interval. Just before I was to leave, Saul David, my producer, said he and Dave Fleischer must have some huddles with me first. So I canceled the flight and took tickets for a plane four days later. It saved my life. I was booked on Flight 800 which went down with everyone aboard lost. (For more about TWA 800 Crash, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TWA_Flight_800_(1964) )
“We were rained out when I first hit Cairo,” Steve continued, “Huston was working in the Moadi desert 50 miles outside the city, and I got lost heading for location. Nothing but sand in all directions, not even a mirage in sight. I was done up in a fantastic costume of gold metal eyebrows and helmet, tight black leather pants and fur chaps. A man appeared out of nowhere and thrust his arm inside the car. I thought I’d be shot on sight, instead he shook hands, said something in Egyptian and pointed out the direction of our company.”
Steve is leaner and handsomer these days, work black British woolens and had a close contemporary haircut. When I accused him of being a contender for Cary Grant’s sartorial spot he said: “I’m glad to be rid of that long hair I’ve sported with armor and costume stuff. I play a super-modern man and it’s the first film I’m not allowed to talk about. Generally this is a publicity gimmick, but Life magazine was turned down flat when they asked to photograph sets and see a script, and 35 foreign publications were refused also. After “Voyage” I’ll do a western for Columbia, as yet untitled. Eli Wallach will play the original Gimbel who founded the great merchant fortune and came west in the early days.”
“You sounded close to permanence with that English girl just before you went away,” I said. “What about it?” He grinned. “The little black book book gets obsolete every time I leave, so that romance is dead. As for girls, the minute they start with ‘dear heart’ and ‘darling,’ I run. Women in Yugoslavia are attractive in a big busted way,” he said. “Tito would export bosoms and rocks and make a fortune. They place is full of giant boulders and women build the roads, throwing big rocks into a crushed which a man operates. He reads his newspaper, she throws the boulders into a hopper, and he presses the lever with his foot. Then she picks up the pieces and lays them one by one in the roadbed. These girls are handsome and firm muscled; but the ones with easier jobs are given to fat.”
Steve’s still suing Anthony Mann for half a million over “The Unknown Battle.” “I missed out on four good roles and plenty of money when he signed me without financial backing and then dropped the project,” Steve said. “He asked me again later but I’d made other commitments, so Kirk Douglas and Richard Harris made it under another title. Westerns are the big money makers in Europe. Clint Eastwood of Rawhide TV made a western in Spain with an Italian director and cast, all of whom took American names for it. It cost $140,000 and has already grossed 2 million dollars, and Clint is the top star in Italy now. ‘Jumbo’ has lines a block long in Spain when I first went over there and it was the same story months later.”
Steve says we’re behind on the subject of nutrition in which he’s keenly interested. “I can’t find a good nutritionist in Los Angeles. My mother, who was crippled with arthritis and couldn’t move about at all a year ago, has been under care of a London doctor who has a new cure. When I saw her recently she was walking in the garden without a cane. It’s a combination of exercise and diet, and she’s given a glass of red wine each day.”
One of my favorite Stephen Boyd co-stars is the mysterious and charming Françoise Dorléac. She was the elder sister of French actress Catherine Denueve (They starred jointly in “The Young Girls of Rochefort”). Françoise was the initial star of the pair, and she herself was featured in a handful of films, but she was very memorable in each one. She was in a great action-comedy called “The Man from Rio” with Jean-Paul Belondo, a Truffant drama called ‘Soft Skin’, one of the Harry Palmer Michael Caine spy movies called ‘Billion Dollar Brain’, a spy spoof with David Niven, and the brilliant Roman Polanski film ‘Cul De Sac’ with Donald Pleasance. But as a major international release, ‘Genghis Khan’ with Omar Sharif and Stephen Boyd was an important movie for her. In the film, sporting luscious blond bangs, she plays a Mongolian princess Bortei. (I know, she is not remotely Asian, nor is anyone else in this movie, which makes it so quirky!). She does a marvelous job as the strong-willed yet still vulnerable beauty who comes between Boyd, the ruthless villain Jamuga, and Sharif, who plays the ‘hero’ as the quite reformed Genghis Khan. Jamuga’s abduction of Bortei and the subsequent chase, fight and rape scene across the fur carpets of his Mongolian yurt, with Dorléac kicking and gasping, is a brutal but very memorable scene. Jamuga is definitely one of Boyd’s most entertaining and ruthless screen villains, and as Bortei bears his son, it makes for even more drama later in the film between Jamuga (Boyd) and Genghis Khan (Sharif).
Sadly, Françoise Dorléac died in a gruesome car accident in the south of France at the age of 25, cutting short what could have been a most fascinating career. She has been staying with her sister Catherine Denueve in St. Tropez, and on a rainy morning, June 26, 1967. she took off in her blue Renault with her pet Chihuahua. She was trying to catch a plane in Nice, and she was late. Her car skidded on the rainy road and crashed into a cement pole, instantly bursting into flames. A witness saw her struggling and tried to help, but the flames engulfed the car and she burned to death. It took 2 hours for the rescue unit to get her body out of the vehicle. This year, 2017, will have been 50 years since her death.
Here as some pictures of Françoise Dorléac with Stephen Boyd and Omar Sharif in the very entertaining movie ‘Genghis Khan’ from 1965.
“FRIENDLY VILLAIN” by Joan Quatim
El Paso Herald June 19, 1965
The American premiere of Irving Allen’s epic ‘Genghis Khan’ in Dallas on Thursday was a hospitable social occasion, which gave representatives of the Texas press an opportunity to fly in and meet old friends. Columbia Picture’s Bill Lewis is an excellent host with a knack for making people happy, and Stephen Boyd, who stars as the villain Jamuga, was on hand to prove that he is really a friendly Irishman with an imposing background in theater.
Stephen Boyd does not grant interviews. He holds friendly conversations instead. Over coffee, he explained that he did not become an actor, for every Irishman is born one. His professional life began early, when he played Hamlet at the age of eight, for the Belfast B.B.C. Children’s Hour. Work with the Ulster Theatre Group was followed by summer stock and broadcasting in Canada and some near-starvation in London, where he actually “busked,” or entertained lines waiting to enter the theaters he had to be near. He got as far as the door- as doorman- when Sir Michael Redgrave noticed him, and with the strange acumen of the profession, recognized an out-of-work actor. Sir Michael Redgrave gave Stephen Boyd his first break, and had remained a close friend and guide ever since.
Asked about The Method, Mr. Boyd pulled a slightly Jamuga face. The term, he stated, is much misused, for method is part of an actor’s training and no more to be emphasized than an athlete’s push-ups. An actor learns by working, and the wider the variety of his roles, the more he learns. For that reason, to be type-cast is to lose creativity, and to lose that is death.
Although he works entirely in films now, for stage and screen are separate masters hard to mix, Stephen Boyd uses stage techniques in his screen work. He rehearses alone onset at night, for example (unheard-of diligence), and “walks” his lines as he learns them. He considers movies a challenge to any serious actor, for they play to the masses unreached by other art forms, must have commercial appeal, and yet must keep truth.
The screen actor can only guess and hope – and his performance is on record unalterable, without hope of doing better tomorrow night. Like all good actors, Stephen Boyd cares intensely about doing his best and bringing truth to his work, whether his audience will understand it and feel it with him, or not.
After his success as Messala in “Ben-Hur,” Mr. Boyd was cast as Anthony in That Film. Miss Taylor’s illness delayed shooting for six months, directors and story slant were changed, and he decided to do “Jumbo” instead. So history was made, but he has no regrets. “I’ve played opposite Bardot, Loren and Lollobrigida,” he commented quietly, “They were all beautiful to work with.”
Most of the time, as in “Genghis Khan,” he prefers to play villains. He finds them more interesting, and is enthusiastic over his forthcoming role in “The Oscar,” about an actor unlike himself, promoted through publicity rather than hard work, who decided to remove rival candidates for the Oscar Award. When Stephen Boyd’s own Oscar nomination arrives, however, he will remove his rivals by talent alone. He is his own stunt man, who learned trapeze work for “Jumbo,” and whose horsemanship is as remarkable as his swordplay.
In “Genghis Khan,” Stephen Boyd co-stars with Omar Sharif as the good Genghis, who unified the Mongol tribes. The film, however, is not history. It is a rip-roaring adventure magnificently photographed in wild beautiful Yugoslavia, with enough battles and horses and duels and fireworks even to suit vacationing little boys.
And I do recommend it to them. Adults will find the climax excellent, although early scenes have been cut so that continuity suffers, and motivation becomes at times a mystery. But if they will just sit back and not worry about why Princess Katke’s brothers happily joined her captor, instead of avenging her, and why James Mason is unintelligible as a kind wise Chinese, and why Eli Wallach hasn’t more to do (for he does it well), the Mongolian hordes will thunder across their vision, and they will have a thoroughly exciting and entertaining evening.