Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Conquerer [1956]

[Cross-posted on the Bad Movie Night Facebook page.]

Usually at Bad Movie Night we end up watching the lowest of the low budget films. Maybe there's a famous person in it but that person usually has another job as a martial artist or a rapper. If there is an actor of some renown, that actor is usually something of a punchline by the point in their career that they are staring in the film we're watching. The sets are usually poorly constructed and the costumes are cheap. The production itself is sometimes the product of one man's ego. And any kind of historical accuracy is out the window. "The Conquerer" distinguishes itself by being none of these things except for historically inaccurate. It's high budget, has a big name actor, and there was definitely money put into the production. It is the very embodiment of the worst things about old Hollywood. We really want to rename this movie, which is about Genghis Khan, as "White Men Squinting."

The plot of this film is really hard to follow. Sarah, resident plot follower, seemed to somewhat know what was going on but mostly it's just a lot of different tribes waring with each other. Early on in the movie, Genghis Khan, played horribly by John Wayne, a man whose appeal I genuinely don't understand, kidnaps the daughter of the Tartar king (or something) after ripping her dress off her body in one motion. Yes, it's that kind of film. If you think his rough and unquestionably rapey ways will eventually woo her into submission, you must have seen this kind of movie before. There's a lot of running around, meeting different important Asian characters played by white or HIspanic guys, totally superfluous dance scenes with scantily clad ladies, and a bunch of scrapes they must get out of. In the end, Khan is leader (or something) with the Tartar princess as his bride and his adopted brother shamefully leaves to go die for reasons none of us really understand.

This movie is a trainwreck. The acting is deadpan and the dialogue has this odd construction that sounds like it is supposed to be old-fashioned or possibly in translation but just doesn't work. The costumes are horrendously inconsistant to the point where we had no idea what the weather was like on any given soundstage and the lead actress just straight up wore whatever nice gowns were in the storage closet from the 1930s. And it was rapey. And non-Asian actors squinting. Anyone who idealizes old Hollywood without discrimination is nuts. One nice thing I can say though is that this movie had some of the finest horse acting any of us have seen in film. All we ever wanted were horse scenes so we could marvel at the only good actors really making their money in hay.

Spoon Rating: 3

Adam's Grandma's Review: *makes a zero motion with her hand*

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