Combustible Celluloid
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With: Lee Van Cleef, Alberto Dentice, Jess Hahn, Horst Frank, Klaus Gr�nberg, Antonio Casale, Marc Mazza, Dominique Darel, Alessandra Cardini, Gastone Pescucci, Elvira Cortese, Anna Maria Gherardi, Hans Terofal, Salvatore Baccaro, Remo Capitani
Written by: Ernesto Gastaldi
Directed by: Giancarlo Santi
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 98
Date: 12/29/1972

The Grand Duel (1972)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Avenging Cowboys

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The Grand Duel (1972) is notable as one of Quentin Tarantino's favorites, and also notable for star Lee Van Cleef, who had been in two of the three Sergio Leone/Clint Eastwood movies. And even director Giancarlo Santi had worked with Leone as an assistant director.

In The Grand Duel, a man called Philipp Wermeer (played by Alberto Dentice under the name "Peter O'Brien") is falsely accused of murder. The three sons of the murder victim, the Saxons, team up to catch Wermeer. But an ex-sheriff (Van Cleef) decides to defend Wermeer, traveling all the way to Saxon City with him for a showdown with the brothers... and the truth.

Santi's work here is solid. He keeps referring to a flashback of the murder with the mysterious killer framed in shadow, and keeps the mystery until the end. There are plenty of chases and escapes as the two heroes learn to trust one another, the pacing is fine, and the action is clean. Composer Luis Bacalov later won an Oscar for Il Postino (1994) and Tarantino borrowed bits of his score for Kill Bill - Vol. 1 (2003).

Mill Creek Entertainment released this Blu-ray double feature -- along with Keoma -- highlighting two exemplary Spaghetti Westerns. The Blu-ray has no extras, but getting two cool movies for a decent price is bonus enough.

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