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!
For Ancient Romans, today was a festival day celebrating Lupercalia! This was an ancient pagan ritual for cleansing the winter days and also to rejuvenate health and fertility in the land. After a religious sacrifice young Roman men would race naked, or nearly naked, around the Palantine Hill in Rome and strike young women in the crowd with leather thongs called februum (yes, February comes from this word!) in order to endow them with a health pregnancy, or (if not yet pregnant), grant them fertility, or so they believed. The word februa in Latin means “Purifications” or “Purgings”. So to honor the season before spring and to get the earth ready to be fruitful again, a fertility ritual like Lupercalia took place to welcome the season.
So, welcome Lupercalia!
Pictures below of “The Fall of the Roman Empire” taken from a French Magazine called Bonnes Soirées, April 1964. https://stephenboydblog.com/fall-of-the-roman-empire/
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.
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.
Stephen Boyd and Omar Sharif starred in three movies together (if you count ‘The Poppy is Also a Flower’). They first met in Cairo at the inauguration of the sound and light show at the pyramids of Giza in April 1961. Stephen was on a publicity tour for Twentieth Century Fox.
Obviously the joint project they were planning never came to fruition, unfortunately. The first movie they worked on together was the grandiose, sombre epic ‘The Fall of the Roman Empire’. Stephen was the highest paid male actor in this movie, and Omar was an up and coming star who had just received great reviews for his performance in ‘Lawrence of Arabia.’ They are pitted as rivals in this film. Omar plays an Armenian king who marries the woman Boyd loves, Lucilla, played by the incomparable Sophia Loren. Most of Omar’s scenes were cut from the final draft of the movie, but he and Boyd do get a great sword fight scene in the second half of the film. As far as can be discerned, the two actors got along just fine during the filming of this movie in 1963. About a year later they would work again together, but this was a different tale to tell. The two actors were cast again as rivals in the action packed epic ‘Genghis Khan’, with Omar as Temujin (Genghis Khan), and Boyd as the heavy this time, portraying Jamuga, the leader of a rival tribe, the Merkits. Boyd seems to have had a great time as this villain. His character is ruthless, stubborn, relentless and vicious- a true barbarian. Omar’s Temujin is more refined, gentle, and forward thinking. Temujin is determined to coalesce the various warring tribes in Mongolia into a united Mongol nation. Jamuga is the thorn in his side throughout the picture, even going so far as to rape Temujin’s wife Bortei, played by the lovely Francoise Dorleac (Catherine Deneuve’s older sister). Boyd at the time was still a major star, so he was billed first and also paid the highest, even though it was truly a starring role for Omar Sharif. In Eli Wallach’s memoirs he mentions speaking to Sharif on the set about his own pay, and the angry reaction it produced. It seems even Eli Wallach was getting paid more than Sharif! Somehow something was said or unsaid on the set that caused a a bitter enmity between the two actors. This set off Boyd’s Irish temper as, generally speaking, Boyd was usually more than amiable to his co-stars. In this case, however, the two men refused to speak to each other off camera, refused to have pictures taken with each other, and also refused to attend the same premiere of the movie together. It was an all out feud. The tension it produced does come off well on screen, however, as the two actors do truly seem to hate each other, as their characters also do. The movie ends with a dusty, bloody, shirtless Mongol duel, with Boyd and Sharif wrestling and warring with each other in pure hatred and animosity. It’s a wonder this final wrestling match didn’t clear the air between these two! Two years later they would both appear in the U.N. sponsored movie ‘The Poppy is Also a Flower,’ however both of their minor parts were filmed completely separate from each other. After struggling to make a name of himself in both ‘Fall of the Roman Empire’ and ‘Genghis Khan’, Omar Sharif would finally achieve permanent stardom in the classic ‘Doctor Zhivago.’ But if you take another look at ‘Genghis Khan,’ you will see my favorite Omar Sharif performance, alongside one of my all time favor Stephen Boyd performances as well.
In Fall of the Roman Empire, 1964
In Genghis Khan, 1965