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The Worst John Wayne Movie That Isn't a Western

John Wayne may be the best-known American movie star of all time. He was certainly among the most prolific. He was in movies from 1926 until 1977. He appeared in over 125 films and TV shows. Wayne was primarily known for his westerns, many made with another filmmaking legend, John Ford. Ford directed the movie that made Wayne a star: “Stagecoach” in 1939. Wayne’s movies, although often ignored by critics, included highly regarded “Red River” (1948), “The Searchers” (1956), and “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” (1962).

Of all the movies Wayne made that are not Westerns, a large share are war movies. Many of the same qualities that made him an ideal gunslinger, cowboy, or sheriff in the Old West — toughness, leadership, and a willingness to sacrifice — also made Wayne a believable captain, admiral, or soldier. Also like many of his Westerns, a number of Wayne’s war films were critical and commercial smash hits and are hailed as classics today. Some of his most well-known movies were neither Westerns nor war movies. “The Quiet Man” (1952) about an American boxer who moves to Ireland, is an example.

To identify the worst John Wayne has ever starred in that isn’t a Western, 24/7 Tempo reviewed a database of over 17,000 movies and selected all of the movies John Wayne was in that were not Westerns. The combined score is an index of the movie’s IMDb rating, Rotten Tomatoes audience score, and Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer score. Genre and casting data is from IMDb.

The worst John Wayne movie is “The Conqueror” (1956). Here are some details:

> Combined score: 0.40 — #16,365 highest out of 17,179 movies in all genres
> Genres: Adventure, Biography, History
> Starring: John Wayne, Susan Hayward, Pedro Armendáriz, Agnes Moorehead

“The Conqueror” is one of Wayne’s least well-reviewed films. In it, he plays Mongolian leader Genghis Khan, who falls in love with the daughter of a conquered enemy. Wayne’s dark makeup and American accent are now remembered as missteps in an otherwise spectacular career.

“The Conqueror” also lives in infamy because it was filmed in the Utah desert, close to nuclear bomb test sites, unbeknownst to filmmakers. Though it is impossible to say if the irradiated shooting location was to blame, nearly half of the 220-person cast and crew developed cancer, with dozens of cases proving fatal. Wayne himself died of stomach cancer in 1979.

Click here to see all the best and worst John Wayne movies that aren’t westerns.