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 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. Lee Van Cleef had throat cancer, but died of a heart attack. 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 »
In many of the "day for night" shots, the tents, animals and people all cast very strong shadows. See more »
[Surrounded by his enemies]
Come and take me, mongrels - if you dare. While I have fingers to grasp a sword, and eyes to see your cowardly faces, your treacherous heads will not be safe on your shoulders. For I am Temujin, the Conqueror. No prison can hold me, no army defeat me.
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I'd differ strongly from the adverse comments against this film. Coming from a country in neighbourhood of China, I have some knowledge of Oriental customs, so when I compare this movie to the Genghis Khan (Omar Sharif's) I am forced to call this movie outstanding. The script is restricted to the early life of Chengez till his rise to power begins. This is good as by focussing on a limited time span, there is only little mutilation of history. Decent coverage of his full life would have required three hours. Therefore, sensibly the most adventurous part has been covered, thereby avoiding boredom for the audience. Story line is fine and not loose. The movie remains thrilling throughout. Stunts are quite good and battle scenes credible. Although, unfortunately there is no notable oriental actor, yet make up is quite satisfactory as are the costumes. I wish some work had been done on the accent of the actors. John Wayne fits well in his role. He has a good military physique and a commanding presence. Susan Hayward, however, is too tall for an oriental women and lacked suitable makeup and costumes. Dialogues are short and focussed. The music is satisfactory. Shooting location is satisfactory, though some scenes should have been shot in snowy locations to remind people of bitter Mongolian winter. Perhaps some more focuss on Mongolian customs should also have attracted the attention of the public. Overall this is not at all a time waster but still shows that thorough research is needed for producing good historical movies especially when it comes to cultures unfamiliar to the West.
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