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Seven Sinners ('40) is the best of the lot, with Marlene Dietrich sly and radiant as the delightfully named Bijou Blanche, a South Pacific cabaret singer who tantalizes naval officer Wayne. At the other end of the spectrum is The Conqueror ('55), generally regarded as Wayne's worst feature ever, but even it is a campy hoot. Sporting a Fu Manchu 'stache and many silly hats and delivering some preposterously stilted dialogue ("Hi, Mom" becomes "I greet you, my mother!"), Wayne plays Mongol warlord Temujin, soon to become Genghis Khan, who's obsessed with a beautiful princess (Susan Hayward as a Tartar? Mayonnaise is more like it) who just happens to be the daughter of the man responsible for the death of Temujin's father. Pittsburgh ('42), again pairing Wayne with the luminous Dietrich, is considerably better, charting the rise, fall, and redemption of miner-turned-captain-of-industry Charles "Pittsburgh" Markham in a story that's both humorous and dramatic before devolving into flag-waving World War II propaganda. Neither The Shepherd of the Hills ('41), sentimental hokum about a clan of drawling, superstitious Ozark hicks, nor Jet Pilot ('57), with a pre-Psycho Janet Leigh as a Russian spy (!), ranks as what you'd call a classic--indeed, there are no classics to be found anywhere here--but the Duke, always a man's man, probably wouldn't mind. "When people say a John Wayne picture got bad reviews," he said, "I always wonder if they know it's a redundant sentence, but hell, I don't care. People like my pictures and that's all that counts."

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MC26557 Conqueror DVD (part of John Wayne collection: Seven Sinners (1940)/Shepherd of the Hills (1941) Pittsburgh (1942)/Jet Pilot (1957) $26.98