The Conqueror (1956)

Genres - Historical Film  |   Sub-Genres - Historical Epic, Biopic [feature], Costume Adventure  |   Run Time - 111 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom , United States   |   MPAA Rating - G
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Review by Craig Butler

The Conqueror is a disaster that has to be seen to be believed, and aficionados of really awful movies will get an immense kick out of it. Those unwilling to join in unbridled laughter at the movie's expense, however, will find Conqueror an excruciating ordeal. Clearly, casting all-American Western hero John Wayne as Genghis Khan was an atrocious idea, but the result is even more horrifying than it sounds. Visibly uncomfortable in his costumes, Wayne gives a wooden self-conscious performance that is painful to witness. To be fair, no actor alive should have to deliver the atrocious dialogue he was given (such as, "She is woman, Jamuga -- much woman. Should her perfidy be less than that of other women?"), but Wayne's trademark drawl and patented speech patterns make it even worse. He's joined in the poor performance department by everyone in the cast, including Agnes Moorehead, John Hoyt, and Lee Van Cleef. If Susan Hayward comes off comparatively better, it's still not a performance to be proud of. Dick Powell's direction is incompetent, and while there are a few good visual moments, the decision to make Nevada and Utah look like 13th century Asia was ill-advised. Trash fans can dig in for a real treat; for others, catch 5 minutes or so to see what all the fuss is about, and then move on.