Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Those first two Antonioni films ...

CHRONICLE OF A LOVE AFFAIR – Antonioni’s debut in 1950 turns out to be a variation on a favorite noir theme – that of two lovers planning to dispose of her wealthy husband who stands between them. Here the husband brings it on himself by deciding to investigate his young wife’s mysterious past, as they married hurriedly during the war. She is Paola - Lucia Bose [a former Miss Italy, who went on to marry bull-fighter Luis Dominguin], a very attractive young beauty of the time, pre-Lollobrigida and Loren or Antonioni's later muse Monica Vitti.

Those expecting the usual Antonioni ennui won’t find it here, as it is a fast-moving melodrama with great black and white images, as well as that score by Giovanni Fusco. The private eye traces Paola’s friends and her previous lover Guido (Massimo Girotto) and it turns out they have a guilty secret over the death of his then girlfriend whom they did not help when she fell down a liftshaft. Guilt had driven them apart, but they now come together again and resume their passion – she though is rich, he is poor. Finally they decide to kill the husband but they vacillate over it so much, and then he has an automobile accident … will they be able to get away with their intention or does fate conspire against them? It is nicely resolved and a pleasure to see now. Lucia Bose is a fascinating presence. Set around Antonioni’s home town of Ferrara it is another fascinating example of early 50s cinema in post-war Italy.

THE LADY WITHOUT CAMELIAS, Antonioni’s second film in 1953 is even more fascinating and is one of the cruellest and most accurate portraits of studio film-making and the Italian movie world with all the double-dealing producers and directors, and starlets on the make. Lucia Bose stars again and here is the helpless pawn Clara Manni, who is a washed-up star by the age of 22. She plays a Milanese shop-girl discovered for the movies and has some success but her passive nature is taken advantage of as she is rushed into a marriage she does not want, and then her new husband does not want her to continue in popular movies, so he puts her in a disastrous new version of “Joan of Arc” which premieres at the Venice festival.She has to sit there hearing the adverse comments. Meanwhile a diplomat, Ivan Desny, pays her attention but it turns out that while she is willing to leave her husband and the big new house he has built for her, he just wants “an adventure with an actress”. Lucia looks terrific suffering in furs – she leaves her husband anyway and imagines she can study for a few months and become a “serious” actress … but producers, including her husband, only see her in frivolous movies like “Slave of the Pyramid” which she wearily signs up for at the end, as she is trapped by her superficial fame.

Again there are some great black and white images and those Antonioni landscapes the characters wander in, when not at Cinecitta! Giovanni Fusco again provides the score, and Suso Cecchi D’Amico is again one of the screen-writers. Bose cropped up in later movies like Fellini’s SATYRICON, NATHALIE GRANGER and has been working until recently. The new “Masters of Cinema” edition contains a booklet on Antonioni in the ‘50s.

Those other '50s Antonioni films LE AMICHE and IL GRIDO as well as the later classics are also reviewed at Antonioni label.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Christopher and his Kind - the real Cabaret ?

CHRISTOPHER AND HIS KIND – the BBC’s new 2011 film of Christopher Isherwood’s 1976 memoir of his years in Berlin in the early ‘30s. So this then is the real CABARET, and it is certainly a fascinating companion piece to the Fosse film. ”To Christopher, Berlin meant boys” as the book’s blurb went, and so we see here. The current DR WHO Matt Smith is ideal as the diffident upper-class Christopher who leaves repressive England in 1931 to teach English in Berlin and falls in thrall to those decadent boys (mainly straight it seems, but willing to earn money – or “gay for pay” in today’s parlance). Lindsay Duncan is ideal too as Isherwood’s icy mother, and Imogen Poots is Jean Ross – who of course became Sally Bowles – she is just right here as the not very good cabaret singer who sings tunelessly in those grubby clubs [no Minnelli-tpye star turn here...], and the rise of those Nazis is nicely conveyed. Toby Jones is the very gay Gerald Hamilton and Pip Carter an ideal W H Auden.

After a fling with (noisy!) sexy rent boy Caspar "Herr Issyvoo" falls for street sweeper Heinz, paying medical bills for the boy's dying mother, to the disapproval of her other son, Nazi Gerhardt. With Fascism rapidly rising Christopher returns to London with Heinz but is unable to prevent his return to Germany when his visa expires. Douglas Booth is Heinz, who certainly works those Keira Knightley cheekbones. There is a nice coda when they meet again years later when Isherwood is now a successful writer now resident in California, while Heinz is married with a child – a son called Christopher… with Matt Smith in the lead (and after last year's A SINGLE MAN) this should certainly attract a lot of attention, and is capably directed by Geoffrey Sax and written by Kevin Elyot. The dolphin clock used in the film was Isherwood’s own.

Soon: More 'gay movies' with the dvd release of the recent Italian comedy LOOSE CANNONS, and back to DONA HERLINDA AND HER SON and those Fassinbders like QUERELLE, FOX AND HIS FRIENDS and THE BITTER TEARS OF PETRA VON KANT, as well as A BIGGER SPLASH and those Francois Ozon films, then there's Bill Condon, Don Roos and Todd Haynes ...

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Farley Granger RIP

Another of the old crowd gone .... Farley though lived to be 85. Nick Ray's THEY LIVE BY NIGHT and Hitch's STRANGERS ON A TRAIN will certainly keep his memory alive.

His book "Include Me Out" was a good gossip, and like Tab Hunter's and John Fraser's showed how a (gay) actor keeps going once the hot 10 years are up. Farley was certainly a looker from the golden age and seems to have been quite upfront about his sexuality, admitting to being at least bisexual, which may have hindered his leading man appeal ?

Apart from the two Hitchcocks (ROPE was on afternoon tv again yesterday here in the UK, I didnt bother watching though would have if I had known he had died) his best movie is probably Visconti's SENSO from 1954 where he is the weak lover of countess Alida Valli (who gives one of the great performances).

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Magnani & Visconti: Bellissima

Antonioni and Vitti, Godard and Karina, Von Sternberg and Dietrich, De Sica and Loren - now add Visconti and Magnani. Funny how some performers shine when back in their native tongue. I have seen several Yves Montand films lately, but he is stilted and unconvincing in English (one only has to remember Pauline Kael's hilarious demolition of his English in ON A CLEAR DAY...] but back in his native languague in a film like LA LOI he is mesmerising. So it is with Anna Magnani - I just did not care for her over the top dramatics in THE ROSE TATTOO when I finally saw it a few years ago, but curiously loved her in Cukor's '57 WILD IS THE WIND, and I also love her in Renoir's THE GOLDEN COACH from '53 (one to have another look at, its been years...), now seeing her as Maddelena in Visconti's BELLISSIMA made in '51 (but not released outside Italy until 1953) one is enthralled with every aspect of her performance and the valentine the film is to her. She is the whole show as this poignant, affectionate comedy drama unfolds - her devotion to her little daughter whom she thinks should be in the movies and the various entanglements that ensue with her fending off dramatic teachers, finding the money for haircuts (the child is hilariously passed down to the most junior salon staff who cuts off her plaits), and new material for a dress etc while all the time exasperating her husband and being the centre of gossip to the neighbours in her apartment block. Then there is the chancer at the studio (Walter Chiari, who seems best known as a companion of Ava Gardner's) who takes her money for bribes but treats himself to a new scooter. But Anna realises that money has to be spent.... finally, the daughter is picked and ready for the screen test, to be shown to the great Alessandro Blasetti but of course it all goes wrong with the child crying and the people watching the tests laughing at her, as the proud mother listens up in the projection booth as she faces the cruel truth about the illusion-making cinema industry. After giving them a piece of her mind she takes the daughter home, sadder but wiser, as the studio people change their mind and send a contract - will she sign it? It is all nicely played out and leaves one with a warm glow, and lost in admiration of the great Magnani.

One nice sequence is the outdoor cinema as she and her husband Spartaco, looking fit in his vest, watch Hawk's RED RIVER and one sees the attraction between them - on the documentary he reveals he had no previous acting experience. It is amusing too seeing Anna at work dispensing her injections. The 'Masters of Cinema' dvd is a perfect print with fascinating extras, inclulding a 32 page booklet, and documentaries featuring co-writers (from a story by Cesare Zavattini) director Francesco Rosi and the venerable Suso Cecchi D'Amico [who co-wrote scores of Italian classics and who died aged 96 last year], and also with comments from Franco Zeffirelli on Visconti [I was fascinated to see a favourite picture of Elizabeth Taylor taken by Bob Willoughby on the set of RAINTREE COUNTY (its in my previous post on ET) pinned to Zeffirelli's wall]. The booklet also has a glowing recommendation from Bette Davis! (click image to enlarge).

There is a lovely scene too where she is lovingly shot and looks radiantly beautiful when at her dressing table mirror, and that nice moment as her temper erupts when her mother-in-law's comment causes Anna's shoe to go through a window! The prattle of the stage mothers all trying to push their kids forward is not only funny but still relevant today. Thank goodness no-one came up with the idea of casting Bette Midler in a remake!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Elizabeth Taylor RIP

Like Marilyn, Elizabeth too was a feature of my childhood from about 1954 onwards, with all those magazine covers from her Mike Todd era and then Eddie, and those movies like THE LAST TIME I SAW PARIS, RHAPSODY and GIANT where she and Dean are so iconic (they are about the same age, 24, and she already has the 2 sons by Wilding). It is only now I realise how much we liked her in CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF and CLEOPATRA and those 2 duff Losey movies.

One liked her atttitude as well as she lived her life in the public gaze. It was nice to have seen her (with Burton and Losey) in 1970. Then of course after the excesses of the Burton-Taylor years there was her kaftan phase in the 70s as she tried being a politician's wife, but she was soon looking terrific again in the 80s as she promoted her perfumes and diamonds. One hopes her final years were happy.

All those great lines of hers, as Maggie the Cat or as Leslie Benedict or Martha or Sissy Goforth, but I particularly like Cleopatra's one: "I asked it of Julius Caesar, I DEMAND it of you"... What to choose of hers to watch? - there are so many... Liz with Clift, Dean, Hudson, Newman, Brando, Beatty, Burton etc. I think I like '50s Liz best, but truly [almost] the end of that era. As a child I was fascinated by her damaged Southern Belle in RAINTREE COUNTY [the Bob Willoughby pictures of her and Clift fooling around on set are refreshingly candid showing stars and friends at play] and although THE SANDPIPER was tripe (Pauline Kael's review is priceless) did she ever look better? She certainly deserved the Academy Award in 1966, if not in 1960 [that year's should have gone to Kerr and Simmons as a tie, as the culmination of their great years].

Several days after her passing the papers are still writing about her - Saturday's "Daily Telegraph" has a nice 3 page feature on Truman Capote writing about her in 1974. He of course knew her as well as he did Monroe, Garland, Brando etc - and the London "Times" had 9 pages on every aspect of her life and career and role as gay icon, humanitarian etc. as well as a 2-page obituary. I can't imagine anyone else getting anywhere near so much attention, not even Sophia Loren or Doris Day! Camille Paglia has also now waded in with a newspaper feature, and so has Francesca Annis (see THE PLEASURE GIRLS below) now one of our senior actresses, who was a handmaiden in CLEOPATRA. I bought that "Picture Show" magazine below in 1960 when I was 14!

CLEOPATRA - another look at Fox's mammoth which I always liked, seeing it originally on its 1964 release at local cinemas, as a teenager. What I particularly like are the sets and opulence of it all with the terrific soundtrack by Alex North and Shamroy's camerawork. The first half is undeniably better with Harrison's acerbic Caesar in full command. Taylor is surprisingly effective, I like that scene with Anthony (Burton) as she is about to depart in her boat back to Egypt just before the intermission, and that sweeping panorama across the port of Alexandria as Caesar arrives. It is full of nice moments and Mankiewicz certainly makes it sound good. I still chuckle at her command for Anthony to get on his knees as a supplicant: "I asked it of Caesar, I DEMAND it of you", with Pamela Brown, Robert Stephens, Martin Landau, Hume Cronyn and of course Roddy McDowell and of course the asp. There was a nice article by Francesca Annis (one of the handmaidens, now one of our senior actresses) on its making and how Elizabeth took her under her wing in one of yesterday's papers. Still a movie to savour then... that entry into Rome alone is still stupendous!

Saturday, 19 March 2011

The most bonkers over the top performance ever?

I nominate THE PASSAGE from 1979 as the most loony daft so-called thriller ever. I thought SHINING THROUGH was bad enough – that’s the one where Melanie Griffith is sent undercover into Nazi germany as a spy and has to be rescued by her boss Michael Douglas who poses as a Nazi but he does not speak German!. Here, in THE PASSAGE, we have the older Anthony Quinn and James Mason with the distressingly frail Patricia Neal who are being chased over the mountains by psychotic WW2 Nazi Captain Malcolm McDowell as the most demented camp Nazi you will ever see.

McDowell said in an interview: "I played this real nasty Nazi who was chasing these people across the Pyrenees. We all knew real early on that the movie was not going to be any great work of art and so I was determined to have some fun with it. My attitude was that if I was going to play a Nazi, I was going to take it totally over the top and do it right. I ended up playing the character like a pantomime queen. What I was doing was so far out that James Mason turned to me one day and said, 'That's wonderful dear boy, but are you in our film? You seem to be doing something different from the rest of us'..."

This farrago was put together by veteran J Lee Thompson in 1979 – 20 years earlier he was helming cracking films like TIGER BAY and NORTHWEST FRONTIER before going on to THE GUNS OF NAVARONE and CAPE FEAR (1962) – here is directing by numbers and allowing McDowell to go way over the top, Quinn is the mainly silent Basque (titled The Basque) and Mason has nothing much to play with either. It is obvious that Patricia Neal as Mason’s wife is so frail she will not last long … the less said about Kay Lenz’s very wooden performance as the daughter the better. One ludicrous scene has her as the prisoner of McDowell who prepares to anally rape her (or so it is suggested) and he strips off to reveal he is wearing a jockstrap (were they in use then?) with a swastika on it! He also camps around with his cigarette holder and has great fun chopping off the fingers of Michel Lonsdale while "preparing dinner", and watch out once he traps that band of gypsies headed by a dignified Christopher Lee …. The party struggle over the Pyrenees aided by Zorba The Basque with some ambushes on the way until the demented climax with some unforgivable fantasy moments as McDowell comes back from the dead …. It all got dreadful reviews at the time and vanished from cinemas in a week or so, one can now see why! McDowell was brilliant in lots of things (I love TIME AFTER TIME) but allowed his head here, the same year as CALIGULA, he certainly seems to enjoy seeing how far he can go. So bad then it’s one to relish.

Friday, 18 March 2011

People We Like: Stephen Boyd

I had been meaning to do a piece on Stephen Boyd, so the day after St Patrick's Day seems the time. Stephen Boyd is a fascinating example of the maxim that every good looking actor/leading man gets 10 good years, if lucky, and one could say Boyd was luckier than most as his was from mid-'50s to mid-'60s, when he was in several major movies and co-starring with main leading ladies like Loren, Bardot, Lollobrigida, Susan Hayward and Doris Day.

All we know about Boyd is what is on his IMDB page and its rather revealing. Born in Northern Ireland in 1931 by the early 50s he was working in London including as a doorman at the Odeon cinema in Leicester Square, where legend has it he was picked up [or was noticed by] by Sir Michael Redgrave who provided some introductions which got Boyd into acting and then movies [as per "Films & Filming"'s 1956 'Person of Promise' entry, below, click twice to enlarge].

His first appearance is in 1954 in swimming trunks lounging by the pool and having some lines with Errol Flynn in LILACS IN THE SPRING, a below par English “musical” teaming an ageing Flynn with Anna Neagle. He is the essence of 50s beefcake in the 1955 Rank Organisation comedy AN ALLIGATOR NAMED DAISY teamed with Diana Dors – both of them going places. (This was a childhood favourite of mine and I bought the Donald Sinden box set purely for this still enjoyable comedy..)
20th Century Fox took an interest and signed him to a 7 year contract after his role in THE MAN WHO NEVER WAS in 1956, an efficient war tale with Clifton Webb and Gloria Graham.

Two more good English dramas followed: SEVEN THUNDERS set in wartime Marseilles where Boyd was one of 2 British soldiers on the run from the Nazis. SEVEN WAVES AWAY (or ABANDON SHIP) in 1957 was a tense shipwreck survival drama played out in the Shepperton tank, with Tyrone Power terrific in one of his last roles, with Mai Zetterling, Moira Lister, Boyd and others fighting for survival in the lifeboat.

ISLAND IN THE SUN was a Fox hit in 1957, from the best-selling book and there was that hit song by Belafonte – Boyd with Joan Collins is part of the interesting cast including Belafonte, Fontaine, Dandridge and Mason, directed by Robert Rossen. THE BRAVADOS is a tense western from 1958 with Boyd leading the heavies as Gregory Peck tracks down the killers of his wife as Joan Collins watches from the sidelines.

Then came the steamy Vadim film HEAVEN FELL THAT NIGHT with Brigitte Bardot – following on from Vadim’s sensation AND GOD CREATED WOMAN. Boyd and BB are both in their first prime here and both are terrific, also with Alida Valli (as per my lengthy review of it at French label).

Then of course came the big one: Wyler’s BEN HUR. What can one add to this – Boyd should surely have been nominated and won best supporting actor as his Messala is the black heart of the film – Hugh Griffith’s sheik, which did win, is really a comic turn with just a few scenes. There are the of course the Gore Vidal tales of spicing up the script for Wyler to provide motivation for the hatred between Ben and Massala without them telling Heston, and Boyd certainly plays it like a scorned lover. Interestingly, Massala has no female love interest but is always seen with actor Terence Longdon (above) who could be playing any role one imagines: confidant, helper or lover. For me the real gay frisson comes from Jack Hawkins whose Quintus Arrius is very taken with the hunky oarsman whom he later adopts, with Ben looking like his attractive boyfriend when they arrive in glory back in Rome. Whatever – the film still works a treat and is a great panorama of the ancient world and it remains an enduring pleasure with Wyler’s great direction and Rosza’s marvellous score, and its Boyd’s best known role; the chariot race is an enduring great cinema moment with Heston and Boyd (aged 28 here) going the distance. How many modern actors could do something like this without it all being CGI (as in GLADIATOR or TROY ?) As the wag said: “loved Ben, hated Hur”. Boyd must certainly have trained as hard as Heston for the chariot race, he should have been nominated and won too. 

Back at Fox, came WOMAN OBSESSED in 1959 – she being Susan Hayward tying to keep her farm going in the backwoods and taking on hired hand Boyd to be her husband who clashes with her son. Its ably put together by Henry Hathaway coasting and gives Susan more to emote with after her Oscar win the previous year.
Then one we like a lot – Jean Negulesco’s THE BEST OF EVERYTHING, from the hit Rona Jaffe novel and another of those Fox 3-girls-sharing-an-apartment-looking-for-love movies. The three are Hope Lange, Diane Baker and model Suzy Parker; it should have been 4 as in the book but Martha Hyer’s role was practically snipped out in the editing to reduce it to 3, with of course Joan Crawford billed “as Amanda Farrow” – the terror of the typing pool. It’s a fascinating look now at office life in the 50s and has great views of Manhattan back then, and of course that great theme tune. Boyd is Lange’s romantic interest and there are some nice moments of them walking along. The drama comes from Lange aspiring to Crawford’s role, Baker getting pregnant and Parker falling for a a theatre director and not being able to handle rejection. It all plays out perfectly and is one of the great soaps of the year along with IMITATION OF LIFE and A SUMMER PLACE.

THE BIG GAMBLE in 1961 is an African adventure I did not see, but seems another of Daryl Zanuck’s attempts to make a movie star of Juliette Greco. THE INSPECTOR (or LISA) another Fox film from 1962, teamed him with Dolores Hart (probably her last, before becoming a nun) about displaced refugees in post-war Europe, from a Jan De Hartog novel. I vaguely remember seeing this as a child and its one that needs re-discovery.

Then for a change of pace a musical with Doris Day: BILLY ROSE’S JUMBO – but at a time of popular musicals like GYPSY, WEST SIDE STORY, THE MUSIC MAN, and FLOWER DRUM SONG, JUMBO got rather overlooked and released with a lot of its footage and numbers cut, it was interesting catching the full version finally recently on dvd. Boyd acquits himself well with Doris and its all rather charmingly quaint.

Another low key movie was a rather forgettable thriller THE THIRD SECRET with an interesting English cast.

Then came two with Gina and Sophia: with Lollobrigida in IMPERIAL VENUS in 1963, a slight trifle about Napoleon’s sister that wasted both stars.
Much more impressive was Anthony Mann’s THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE in 1964 with Loren and Boyd heading the terrific cast in this major Samuel Bronston production, perhaps the last of the great epics. The early sequences in the German forests are marvellous (and served as template for the later GLADIATOR) with Alec Guinness as Marcus Aurelius, ably supported by James Mason. It later turns into the usual epic clich├ęs once mad Christopher Plummer takes over as emperor with Boyd saving Sophia from the burning flames as Rome descends into anarchy. But certainly a great visual treat.

One could not say the same for Boyd’s next epic – the rather tatty GENGHIS KHAN coming at the end of the great epic cycle in 1965 where Boyd is the villain Jamuga to Omar Sharif’s mongol chief. One thing about Boyd, when playing evil he attacks it head-on with relish! Francoise Dorleac is the very 60s love interest and hilarity is provided by James Mason and Robert Morley as Chinese warlords! Its certainly an epic to savour for all the wrong reasons, as the likes of Yvonne Mitchell, Telly Savalas and Eli Wallach pop up now and then. 
An interesting what might have been is that Boyd had been originally cast as Mark Anthony opposite Elizabeth Taylor in the epic of all epics CLEOPATRA, with Peter Finch as Caesar. But of course the bad weather and Taylor’s illnesses caused the production to move to Rome and be recast with Burton and Harrison. Footage remains in the ‘making of’ documentary on the triple dvd release of Boyd and Finch at work here.

Then came the lulu that is THE OSCAR in 1966 – enough to sink anyone’s career. One likes a camp movie as much as anyone else, but this one is just insultingly bad on every level with the likes of Tony Bennett, Jill St John, Elke Sommer etc I finally caught it recently and it was not even amusing. Boyd must have gritted his teeth playing the anti-hero heel who will do anything to win that award.

John Huston’s THE BIBLE also in 1966 was another curio, with Boyd as Nimrod among the all-star cast. This was not quite the success it was meant to be, and is another one to see again.

FANTASTIC VOYAGE though followed in 1967 and was rather Boyd’s last hit and is a terrific science fiction.

SHALAKO in 1968 is really a low point for all concerned. I didn’t bother with this Spanish western at the time but caught it in the Sunday afternoon family slot on television recently – whose idea was it to present this as family entertainment? This brutal western was of course heavily edited (so much so that Honor Blackman’s demise was edited out!) but what remained showed Boyd and Bardot past their iconic prime 10 years earlier in the Vadim film. Edward Dmytryk directed with Connery heading. A bored-looking Bardot with her 60s makeup and hair was all wrong for 1880s mexico and the whole thing was just instantly forgettable.

SLAVES in 1969 is one I would like to see, co-starring Dionne Warwick, and is presumably about the evils of slavery with Boyd as the “evil overseer”.

From 1970 onwards Boyd was now making movies in Europe – most of which never surfaced here in the UK and most seem rather inconsequential. Of these I have only seen is THE DEVIL HAS 7 FACES with Carroll Baker, where an older Boyd has a featured role. Romain Gary’s KILL with Jean Seberg and James Mason should be worth a look, from 1971. 1977's THE SQUEEZE was an interesting discovery recently, a brutal thriller with a good role for Boyd. At least he kept working until that fatal heart attack playing golf in July 1977.

All we know of Boyd’s private life is that there were 2 brief marriages, the first during the making of BEN HUR and then 10 months before his death to his long-term PA and assistant, as detailed in his imdb profile.

All careers have peaks and troughs, with Boyd no exception. Overall it’s an interesting journey of ups and downs with some major hits – not bad for the young actor from Northern Ireland who became a colourful leading man. He would surely have had a career revival as (like Stanley Baker and Laurence Harvey) dying in one’s 40s is far too young, but BEN HUR will always keep him a star.

There is now finally a book on Boyd: "Stephen  Boyd: From Belfast to Hollywood" by Joe Cushman, published in 2013, a slim volume but it covers all the salient points about Boyd and his career.