|Careful with that sword, Dr Freud|
Fuller focuses on the horrifying spectacle of John Wayne in yellowface as Genghis Khan (I shit you not – although he lobbied hard for the role at the time, when asked later in life what he was thinking when he accepted it, Wayne purportedly replied "I was drunk"), but I was delighted by the clips I've got lined up for you today.
The Conqueror was thoroughly vanquished at the box office, and went down not only as one of the biggest flops of the 1950s, but as one of the worst films of all time: which would have been bad enough, even if making it hadn't given cancer to nearly half of the people involved in making it.* Hughes, ever the man who would not be denied, insisted on filming in St John, Utah – even though it was known to be just downwind of a nuclear test site.
Of the 220 people in the cast and crew, 91 of them went on to develop some form of cancer (including the director and stars Wayne, Agnes Moorhead and Susan Hayward) and, by 1981, 46 of them had died from the disease. A guilt-stricken Hughes, convinced that it was The Conqueror's location that was responsible for the spate of ill-health, bought every copy of the film for $12 million and watched it obsessively until the end of his life.
|You put your right leg in, your right leg out...|
This next scene from The Conqueror was actually cut from the original theatrical release because it was too raunchy. It's too bad so few people have been able to see this scene. Her costume alone is a thing of wonder. I could be wrong, but it looks Ballets Russes-inspired:
As an aside, one of the other uncredited dancers to appear in The Conqueror was a very young Barrie Chase, who I've posted about before.
*In fairness, I should note that there's no empirical proof to support a causal link between the The Conqueror and the cancers developed by the cast and crew – Moorhead and Wayne, in particular, were famously heavy smokers.