Sunday, March 01, 2009

MOVIES: #31 Genghis Khan

First, let me say that 1965's Genghis Khan is NOT a great movie. In fact, given the number of Brits playing asian roles, it would probably cause a fair bit of protest if made today. Fairly. But, when you are a boy of nine, a trip to the big theatre to see a BIG SCREEN movie will always be memorable.

So Genghis Khan makes my list as much for being the first MAJOR MOTION PICTURE I saw at a theatre as it is for being a satisfying experience for me. And years later, I met the star of the pic, Omar Sharif, through our mutual enjoyment of Bridge.

Such was the impact this movie made on me, I always swore to name my first born Temujin Daniel (T.D.) Mugford. Fortunately for the would-be young lad, never had a kid to burden with the name. But I digress.

Sharif plays Khan from teenhood to death-bed. He's accompanied/plagued most of the way by Jamuga (Stephen Boyd). Other non-asian actors of note playing asians were Robert Morley as the emperor of China, James Mason, Eli Wallach, Telly Savalas and Woody Strode. This was not a hastily-thrown together group, making a movie out on the back lot somewhere. The lone lady to look at was Francoise Dorleac.

Historical accuracy is NOT the raison d'etre of this movie. It's scope is to tell the story of a poor tribesman on the plains of Steppes and how he rose the to the position of possibly the most powerful man in the world, at the time. He coalesced the Mongol Hordes and stormed China, becoming the ruler of Asia in the passing. All in something less than 3 hours.

Plenty of action, occasional smiles (Morley, specifically) and the complete cycle of life. It made an impression on a nine-year old boy. And while not as astonishing to a 40-year older man, it's still a fun way to watch old Hollywood at work.

Everybody else in the world thinks it's garbage. I don't. So don't waste electrons arguing otherwise.

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