With 'The Butler' in theaters we look back at some of the genre's messier moments
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5. 'The Conqueror' (1956)
To have seen "The Conqueror" is to hate "The Conqueror." It was left off of several of our staff ballots, but also placed atop two ballots as the Worst Biopic Ever. The great thing about John Wayne's performance as Genghis Khan is that no matter how ill-conceived you might imagine it to be, the reality is far more hilarious. To play the Mongol leader, Wayne dons a dark bowl cut, increasingly wispy facial hair and... that's it. He still walks like John Wayne and swaggers like John Wayne and he talks exactly like John Wayne, only complaining about the Tartars instead of Injuns. It's an exercise in absurdism made all the more hilarious by campy supporting work by the likes of Anges Moorehead, Pedro Amendariz and Lee Van Cleef. Wanna know what really puts "The Conqueror" over the top in terms of epic awfulness? It KILLED John Wayne. Production took place in Utah, downwind from a nuclear test site. In the 30 years after its production, nearly half of the film's 220-person cast and crew developed cancer, including The Duke. [Sure, Wayne's cancer may have been related to other factors, but good grief... "The Conqueror" wasn't worth dying for.]