John Wayne’s 1956 film The Conqueror was a historical biopic about Genghis Khan far worse than you can imagine. The All-American legend was in full Fu Manchu make-up and depicted the Great Khan as a Mongol madman. He was given Shakespear-esque dialogue that was as grandiose as it was misapplied to the Duke loose way of speaking (one example: “I feel this Tartar woman is for me, and my blood says, take her.”) It was a film so embarrassing that it disappeared from print for over a quarter century. Worse yet, half its cast and crew met their demise bringing the film to life by being exposed to nuclear radiation while on set.
To get into this story is today’s guest Ryan Uytdewilligen, author of “Killing John Wayne, the Making of the Conqueror. Filmed during the dark underbelly of the 1950s—the Cold War—when nuclear testing in desolate southwestern landscapes was a must for survival, the very same landscapes were where exotic stories set in faraway lands could be made. Just 153 miles from the St. George, Utah, set, nuclear bombs were detonated regularly at Yucca Flat and Frenchman Flat in Nevada, providing a bizarre and possibly deadly background to an already surreal moment in cinema history.
We discuss the story of the making of The Conqueror, its ignominious aftermath, and the radiation induced cancer that may have killed John Wayne and many others.
Cite This Article"The Worst Movie Ever Made Cast John Wayne as Genghis Khan and Exposed the Cast to Nuclear Radiation" History on the Net
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