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‘The Conqueror: Hollywood Fallout’ review: Tells a deeper story

A true Hollywood tragedy.

The Conqueror: Hollywood Fallout looks at one of the most infamous movies of all time from the other side of the screen. Miscast and critically panned, it has come to be known for its controversial filming. Shot downwind of a nuclear testing site, many have debated whether its location was the cause of the multiple cases of cancer among the cast and crew. What happened to the surrounding towns has been discussed less, however.

Howard Hughes is one of the most enigmatic figures in American history. Though his accomplishments in aviation and business are vast, it is the more eccentric aspects of his life that tend to be highlighted. True to form, The Conqueror: Hollywood Fallout begins with a storyboard showing the reclusive Hughes nude and huddled in front of a television.

(These animated moments are used a few times and never fit the tone of the documentary. It is as if the filmmakers did not have the time or budget to shoot reenactments and showed their plans instead. It is not the worst idea, but it breaks the immersion for what is an otherwise very straightforward watch.)

Even though the odd habits of Hughes and the casting of All-American icon John Wayne as Mongolian Genghis Khan are touched on, they are not the focal point of The Conqueror: Hollywood Fallout. Director William Nunez turns the camera on the ordinary people that were affected by the movie.

The most powerful moments are in the third act. This includes some moving interviews and tragic stories. The Conqueror: Hollywood Fallout haphazardly builds its case and allows the audience to piece everything together. It can be erratic at times, but it always hits hard. There is a sense of shock and disbelief as to what was allowed to happen.

The Conqueror: Hollywood Fallout is a documentary about a movie that was made with more than just cinephiles in mind. There is a much deeper story here. It discusses the devastating circumstances surrounding its production and the long-term effects on the people who had nothing to do with its making.

The Conqueror: Hollywood Fallout comes to theaters June 28

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