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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Genghis Khan (1965)

A 12th century Mongol leader (Omar Sharif) is determined to unite all Mongol tribes and forge a nation. After an interlude in China where its Emperor (Robert Morley) holds them as "guests" against their will, he becomes known as Genghis Khan and fulfills his destiny. Technically, it's an impressive film with Geoffrey Unsworth's (2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY) striking wide screen compositions, the impressive art direction (particularly the Emperor's palace) and Dusan Radic's rousing score. But its historical inaccuracies aside, it never comes to life, it just plods along. The best one can say for it is that it's not boring. The film is rife with miscasting. It's doubtful the liquid eyed, honey voiced Sharif could lead a band of girl scouts into battle, much less an army of fierce Mongols. The worst piece of miscasting though is James Mason, in quite possibly his worst performance, as a Chinese adviser (with a sing-song accent) to his Emperor. Although miscast as everyone else, Stephen Boyd as Sharif's chief adversary manages to give a strong performance and one can't help but think he might have made a better Khan. Yugoslavia makes for a believable stand in for China. Directed by Henry Levin (WHERE THE BOYS ARE). With Francoise Dorleac, Telly Savalas, Yvonne Mitchell, Woody Strode and Michael Hordern all as Mongols and Eli Wallach as a Persian Shah.

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