"Come and take me, mongrels—if you dare! While I have fingers to grasp a sword, and eyes to see your cowardly faces, your treacherous heads will not be safe on your shoulders! For I am Temujin, the Conqueror! No prison can hold me, no army defeat me!"
Description: John Wayne as Temujin stands defiant angainst his enemies in the motion picture The Conqueror (1956).
Temujin is a warlord in ancient Mongolia who will later become the legendary Genghis Khan, but first he must battle rival Tartar tribes who killed his father and woo the heart Bortai (Susan Hayward) the fiery, red-headed Tartar princess taken prisoner in a raid.
"I feel this Tartar woman is for me, and my blood says, take her. There are moments for wisdom and moments when I listen to my blood; my blood says, take this Tartar woman."
Captured by her enemies, Bortai sees that Temujin has eyes for her beauty, but she refuses any love from such a barbarian, and declares: "The Conqueror? Mighty armies cannot stop him. But one touch of my lips... Yes, he captured me - but he cannot tame me."
Advising against any romance with an outsider, Temujin's mother Hunlun (Agnes Moorehead) warns, "She will bring woe to you and your people, my son! A woman made wife against her will can be a dangerous foe!" But Temujin hearts beats stronger than his reason, and he says." For good or ill - she is my destiny."
When the princess tries to escape, Temujin reminds her, "I stole you. I will keep you. Before the sun sets you will come willingly to my arms." Protesting, Bortai shouts, " For me, there is no peace while you live, Mongol," to which Temujin replies, "You're beautiful in your wrath."
As Temujin returns from the city of Urga where he tries to convince its leaders Wang Khan that the Tartar Tribes plans on attacking the city, Temujin discovers his encampment in the control of Kumlek, Bortai's father who seeks revenge on Temujin for stealing his daughter. It was Kumlek who poisoned Temujin's father Yessugai.
Now captured, Kumlek, in a fit of fatherly fury snarls, "Joint by joint from the toe and fingertip upward shall you be cut to pieces, and each carrion piece, hour by hour and day by day, shall be cast to the dogs before your very eyes until they too shall be plucked out as morsels for the vultures."
But Temjin manages to escapes from Kumlek with the help of Bortai who has since fallen in love with the Mongol chieftain. Leading his forces against the city of Urga, Temujin slays its leader Wang Khan, who has since killed members of his negotiating party. The populace swear alliagiance to Temujin who renames himself Genghis Khan. Temujin then returns to defeat Kumlek and his Tartar tribes.
Note: The Conqueror was filmed in Utah, in an area contaminated by radioactive fallout from the Yucca Flats nuclear tests. Consequently, most of the cast and crew eventually succumbed to cancer, including John Wayne, Susan Hayward, Agnes Moorehead, John Hoyt and Pedro Armendáriz, who committed suicide because of his terminal cancer. The film's director, Dick Powell also died of cancer.