“Kill!” is one of Stephen Boyd’s most unusual movies. It was directed by cult film director Romain Gary, and was most likely filmed during the summer of 1971 in Southern Spain.
At the time when this was being filmed, Romain and wife Jean Seberg had just been divorced. According to Stephen, the divorced pair got along better than any married couple he’d ever seen. Jean Seberg at this point in her life had been through quite a tumultuous era. In the late 1960’s she became involved with elements of the Black Panthers, and had even had a son with one of their leaders, a child who later died. The FBI was following her and she became paranoid and had numerous nervous breakdowns, including one on an airplane where she literally had to be sedated. In 1970 her soon to be ex-husband decided it was time for her to attempt a comeback.
When informed that Stephen Boyd was to be her co-star, Jean Seberg’s initial reaction was very negative ( she inexplicably exclaimed ‘yuck’!), so it’s hard to say whether or not these two got along eventually during the making of the film.
The movie itself is a classic cult 70’s movie. Stephen plays Brad Killian, an unhinged vigilante who is trying to personally dispose of all the heroin drug dealers in Pakistan. Even the character’s name, Killian, reflects his compulsion to ‘kill’. Jean Seberg plays Emily Hamilton, the wife of a DEA agent played by James Mason, who himself is involved with the drug dealers. The movie is also littered with some classic Italian cult actor faces including Aldo Sambrell and also German icon Kurt Jürgens as the ‘Coordinator’. The distinctive soundtrack by Berto Pisano is both jagged and beautifully surreal. On screen, Boyd and Seberg make a strange pair. Boyd literally towers over Seberg’s diminutive stature. Their relationship on screen never develops past Emily’s initial fear-ridden attraction to Boyd’s rugged masculinity. Seberg looks dainty, cool and clean, while Boyd, by contrast, looks wildly unkempt. He remains unshaven (and unwashed, it looks like) throughout the movie and wears nothing but a leather jacket and leather pants (not even a shirt!). Even the love scene borders on pornographic and is strangely disjointed as Seberg insisted on a body double, so most of Boyd’s sexual energy is being lovingly expended on a naked, anonymous, blonde stand-in.
The film also reunites Boyd and actor James Mason for the fourth time. These two actors had been in movies together from the 1950’s, starting with Island in the Sun, and in the 1960’s in The Fall of the Roman Empire & Genghis Khan.
Tragically by the end of the decade, Boyd, Seberg and Gary would all meet untimely deaths. Seberg’s death at age 41 in Paris was the saddest of all as her decomposing body was found in her car many days after an apparent suicide in 1979. Romain Gary committed suicide at age 66 by gunshot wound in 1980. Stephen’s death preceded them both, however, in 1977. But Stephen died of a natural causes – a massive coronary at age 49. This in itself makes “Kill!” a ghostly violent journey.