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The Conqueror

The Conqueror(1956)

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  • Filmed near the site of contemporaneous nuclear testing grounds, the set was contaminated by nuclear fallout. After location shooting, much dirt from the location was transported back to Hollywood in order to match interior shooting done there. Scores of cast and crew members developed forms of cancer over the next two decades, many more than the normal percentage of a random group of this size. Quite a few died from cancer or cancer-related problems, including 'Wayne, John' , 'Hayward, Susan' , Pedro Armendariz, Agnes Moorehead, Thomas Gomez, and director 'Powell, Dick' .
  • Wayne took his role very seriously, went on a crash diet, and took Dexedrine tablets 4 times a day.
  • The eccentric billionaire, Howard Hughes, provided the financial backing of this film and paid approximately $12 million for every existing print of the film from a sense of guilt. It was Hughes that paid for the shipping of 60 tons of radioactive dirt to Hollywood for retakes (see above). He kept a jealous hold on it, not even allowing it to be seen on television, for 17 years, until 1974, when Paramount managed to secure the rights to reissue it.
  • Sometimes referred to as "An RKO Radioactive Picture".
  • The screenplay was written before John Wayne became involved in the project. The writer had Marlon Brando in mind for the role.

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