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In ancient times, the Mongolian warlord Temujin must do battle against the rival tribe that killed his father. The battles pale in comparison with Temujin's home life, as he attempts to woo the heart of the red-haired Tartar prisoner Bortai whom he has captured in a raid. He must also deal with various intrigues within his palace. Eventually, Bortai falls to his manly charms, Temujin defeats his enemies within and without, and is crowned Genghis Khan. Written by
The film is sometimes called "An RKO Radioactive Picture." It was filmed near a nuclear test site, and the set was contaminated by nuclear fallout. Photographs exist of John Wayne holding a Geiger counter. After location shooting, contaminated soil was transported back to Hollywood in order to match interior shooting done there. Over the next 20 years, many actors and crew members developed cancer. "People" Magazine researched the cast's and crew's health for an article. By the time it was published, in November 1980, 91 of the 220 cast and crew members had developed cancer. Forty-six had died, including John Wayne, Susan Hayward, Pedro Armendáriz (who shot himself soon after learning he had terminal cancer), Agnes Moorehead, John Hoyt and director Dick Powell. The count did not include several hundred local Native Americans who played extras, or relatives of the cast and crew who visited the set, including John Wayne's son Michael Wayne. The article quoted the reaction of a scientist from the Pentagon's Defense Nuclear Agency to the news, "Please, God, don't let us have killed John Wayne". As of June 2011, the "People article" is available in its archive online. See more »
When Temujin shoots a flaming arrow to signal his troops to enter Urga, it is night, but when the troops see the arrow, it is daylight. See more »
She is a woman - much woman. Should her perfidy be less than that of other women?
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I know this is widely considered to be a great travesty of filmmaking, but its problems can be (and have been) over-stated. The costuming, direction, cinematography and choreography are all quite well done and it is surprisingly true to history. Most people can't get beyond the fact that John Wayne plays the title role of Genghis Khan and I admit that it is difficult, but the greatest problem is his accent, not his acting. He delivers his lines exactly as if he were in one of his Western classics and does not attempt a Mongolian accent. The dialogue is (contrary to the previous comments) not inappropriate, but when delivered by Wayne with his western twang, its does often sound comical. I suggest that the audience try to think of this film as just another cowboy movie and try not to take it so seriously. In the end, it is a thoroughly enjoyable film, and that is what matters. The lack of Asian actors is regrettable, but consistent for the era in which is was made.
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