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Duel of Champions More at IMDbPro »Orazi e Curiazi (original title)

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17 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Interesting story of early Rome with a quality musical score

Author: heliopause from Baltimore, Maryland
31 March 2003

While those of us interested in ancient stories and sword and sandals productions will find this story to be interesting, it falls short, well short, in production quality and script to be the epic it could have been.

The plot follows the story of one of the Orazi brothers of Rome, at war with Alba. This brother is accused of cowardice in battle and is captured by the Albans. He escapes, but is not warmly welcomed upon his return to Rome. After years of war, the Romans and Albans agree to decide the battle in a duel of 3 Roman brothers (the Orazi's) vs. 3 Alban brothers. In the end, this Orazi wins the day but the victory is bittersweet as displayed with his disgust for the need for killing.

What stands out is the epic musical score composed by Francesco Lavagnino at his peak. Clearly, the music is at a far different level than the movie, it elevates the story but cannot raise the production near to the realm of an epic. Still, it is a collectible for ancient movie fans. Available on budget DVD, the DVD transfer is terrible.

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12 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Legendary event in which a duel between the Orazi and Curiazi brothers to solve who will govern Rome

Author: ma-cortes
7 May 2008

In the ancient Rome , during the pre-Republic period , general Horatio (Alan Ladd) is wounded and imprisoned by Albanos and accused as cowardice by Romans. The prodigal Horacio fled and he has come home but the Romans distrust . Then Horacio is redeemed on the final confrontation . Then , a combat takes place in order to put an end to the long and bloody war between the Romans and the Albans . The king of Rome , Tulio Hostilio (Robert Keith) accords King of Alba-Longa a challenge between three members of Horatius family (Jacques Sernas , Ladd) and three brothers Albanos (Franco Fabrizi , among others). They fight a duel to decide who will rule . At the ending happens the fierce and lethal battle . This unforgettable heroic action was immortalized by French painter Louis David in the painting titled 'Under oath of the Horacios' .

This is a sword and sandals movie with action , adventures , fighting and based on legendary deeds in which three different brothers are chosen for each side : the Romans choose the Orazi and The Albans are represented by the Curiazi . The film shows difference between cultured Romans and savage and illiterate Albanos , but this question is historically contradictory . The Paramout star , Alan Ladd , was in frank decadence , he plays with apathy and indifference and acted without wage various weeks when the production was declared insolvency . After that , he played 'Carpetbaggers' and suddenly died by alcoholism . His sister Alana Ladd plays as Scilla . The screenplay is written by prestigious writers with future and important careers , such as : Carlo Lizzani , Guliano Montalvo and Luciano Vincenzoni (Sergio Leone's usual) . Spectacular musical score by Angelo Francesco Lavagnino (Peplum's habitual) . The film was directed by Terence Young and Ferdinando Baldi . Subsequently , Young directed successful James Bond films : ¨Bond vs Dr No¨ and ¨From Russia with love¨. In the Italian version only appears as filmmaker Ferdinando Baldi , he's an expert director of Peplum (Arminius , massacre in Black Forest , Son of Cleopatra , David and Goliath) and Spaghetti Western (Viva Django, Adios Texas).

The picture set during first Roman epoch with the king Tulio Hostilio. Formerly ruled Romulo and Numa Pompilio (events developed in 'Romulo and Remo' by Sergio Corbucci with Steve Reeves and Gordon Scott) , after succeeded the king Tarquino (deeds narrated in 'Mucius Scevola' by Giorgio Ferroni with Gordon Scott , also starring of 'Coroliano'). Other movies about the Roman pre-Republic , the Roman monarchy , are the followings : 'Kidnapping of Sabinas' (1961 , Richard Pottier with Jean Marais and Roger Moore) and 'Virgins of Rome' (1966, Vittorio Cottafavi with Louis Jordan) , among them.

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17 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Nice historical epic

Author: b_moviebuff from Edinburgh, Scotland
7 July 2006

Having read about but not seen I bought this movie on DVD and as the previous reviewer said the transfer is terrible, that is a real shame as this is one of the more enjoyable sword and sandal epics. The great movie writer Steven Shuerer said that Alan Ladd appeared rather foolish in this movie, I disagree, Ladd put's in a nice performance here as one of three Roman brothers who must fight a rival three to try and put an end to years of fighting with the Albans, I think how the film works is that most of the cast are speaking in English, not badly dubbed from Italian as most of these films are, agreed Ladd looks rather tired and the effects of his long term alcoholism are evident, but I don't think he got a good deal from reviewers who concentrated more on his size and his personal problems. I do wish the makers of these films would take more time to try and restore the movie to a better print on DVD, some of these Italian epics are highly regarded by their fans, myself included so in this day and age of digital restoration these things should be brought in by them.

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10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

DUEL OF CHAMPIONS (Ferdinando Baldi and, uncredited, Terence Young, 1961) **

Author: MARIO GAUCI ( from Naxxar, Malta
15 April 2006

This international co-production tells of a "famous" duel between two sets of three brothers (one from each side of the Romans and the Barbarians) which was to decide the fate of the ongoing war between them. While the production values sounded promising on paper – co-director Terence Young, American actors Alan Ladd and Robert Keith (whose last film this turned out to be), French star Jacques Sernas, ex-Fellini alumnus Franco Fabrizi, four noteworthy screenwriters, etc – the film comes off as a rather talky and undernourished affair which cannot hope to do justice to its mythical subject.

A visibly tired Alan Ladd, then, is evidently miscast and seems to be playing his role as if he has just stepped in from the American West rather than being at the head of a Roman legion! The hokey, would-be tragic "Romeo and Juliet" subplot involving Ladd's sister and Barbarian Fabrizi doesn't help matters either; on the plus side, however, is a sequence early on where Ladd is teared at by a pack of hungry wolves and the forest hunt by the three barbarian brothers for Ladd (after having killed his two siblings) which rebounds on themselves – with our hero, naturally, emerging victorious at the end to walk off into the sunset with his beloved.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

A tired lad

Author: dbdumonteil
25 December 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Alan Ladd seems exhausted during the whole movie.It is a wonder he can escape from the wolf pit and then defeat Curiazio in the final duel.His features thickened and he was only the ghost of the dashing hero of the brilliant westerns of the fifties .Most of the time ,he does not seem to care about his family,his love and the plot.

This is a well-known story:Pierre Corneille wrote one of his most famous tragedies "Horace" in 1640 about the Roman legend.The writers did the same here,but it seems that their job was not as good as in the contemporary "Romolo e Remo" .(Publius)Horatio is away most of the time and no actor on the screen can generate excitement or interest.Only the scene in the woods when Horatio defeats two of the Curiazi retains some suspense ,not unlike that Terence Young will use later in "Wait Until dark" .Horatio's sister who falls in love at first sight with the "enemy" is not killed by his brother after the victory ,as in the legend!She commits suicide .Now Tullius will reign over the two towns ,Rome and Albe .

As for Alan Ladd,he was to pass away three years after,but it's better to consider "the carpetbaggers" -albeit a movie of average worth- his swansong:he easily outclassed the rest of the cast in that film with his part of an old actor down on his luck.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

OK movie creates sense of sadness

Author: sep1051 from Montreal, Canada
13 June 2003

The story of this movie has been described here by others and suffice it to say I found the movie to be very average. I think the really memorable aspect was the chance to see Alan Ladd and Robert Keith at the end of their careers. Alan Ladd would go on to make two other movies before his untimely death at 50. Unfortunately, from this movie, it is clear that his personal and professional lives were in decline at this time. He appears sluggish and bloated with only the infrequent flashing of a smile to remind viewers of past glories. Although he plays a general his performance doesn't really command the screen. If you want to see him, in his later movies, I would suggest you pass this up and settle for his final role, in the Carpetbaggers, which shows much more bite. Secondly, this represented the final film in the long career of actor Robert Keith (here playing the King of Rome). Although, by modern standards, a relatively young man (63) when this movie was made, it would be his last before his death five years later. He appears very frail but conveys a strong sense of dignity and maintains a masterful diction. Perhaps, given the combination, a suitable finale for a character lead.

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Rather tired and sad...

Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
1 June 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

When this film begins, I found myself feeling a bit sad. Here is an alcoholic and puffy Alan Ladd towards the very end of his career playing in an ultra-low budget Italian sword and sandal epic. Alan Ladd?! In this sort of film?! For fans of this once charismatic actor, seeing him in the Roman garb fighting limply, it is hard to watch.

It seems that Ladd is the commander of a legion in the early days of Rome--long before the Roman republic and even longer before the legendary days of the Caesars. This Rome is a city-state and it is not THE player on the Italian peninsula, but one of several city-states. This film focuses on the war between Rome and nearby Alba. During the war, Ladd is taken prisoner and assumed a coward by the folks back in Rome. When he ultimately escapes and returns, he's reviled--so soon he leaves for a quiet life in the country. However, when Rome needs his services once again, Ladd is content to sit this one out--after all, what has Rome done for him?

In addition to having Ladd looking old and puffy, he also isn't all that much of a hero in this one. Unlike the stereotypical Roman soldier, he's more than willing to turn tail and run. And who's to blame him--as in this film his brilliant strategy ultimately pays off!

The film has a lot of problems. Some of it is due to the terrible quality of the print from Diamond Entertainment (a relatively unknown company for a rather forgotten film). It's both blurry AND grainy--like it was copied off a badly degraded videotape. Now you can't blame the film makers for this, but you can blame them for choosing a far from charismatic leading man (an American star in order to give this Italian film some class), having a mostly dull script and for just looking amazingly cheap throughout the film. In particular, you never really see Rome--just a wall that looks like it was made out of painted plywood. Overall, it's a film not a whole lot better than the Maciste (aka, Hercules or Atlas or Samson) films of the same era.

Dull and cheap and only recommended to those who insist on seeing all of Alan Ladd's films--even the bad ones.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Routine Stuff, Nothing Special

Author: Rainey Dawn from United States
20 January 2017

Romans and the Albans both have been loosing way to many men in battles. 3 brothers from each are chosen in the end to fight to the death in one final battle to settle the dispute but it doesn't quite go as planned.

This is rather drab film. Routine peplum with nothing special to add to the genre, it only gives us one more history peplum to throw into the mix - and a very bland account of it.

Cheers for the costuming and prop eye-candy, boo for the tedious way of telling us the story.


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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A multitude of action scenes lift this ordinary peplum

Author: Leofwine_draca from United Kingdom
5 July 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A middling, typical Italian peplum film from director Ferdinando Baldi. DUEL OF CHAMPIONS benefits greatly from a spectacular opening and a rousing finale, but kind of loses it in the middle part which verges occasionally on becoming dull. Thankfully, it never does become boring, a fact which is mainly due to the efforts of Alan Ladd, the film's American import. Ladd - although the victim of a spectacular piece of miscasting, it has to be said - brings warmth and charisma to his role of Horatius, the cowardly but ultimately victorious warrior who saves Rome. Although Ladd, at approximately 50 years of age, is really ten to fifteen years too old to play the heroic lead, he puts in a fine performance on which the film hinges. Things become enjoyable in his presence.

Things start off brilliantly with a well-choreographed battle scene, employing a large cast and enlivened by a thunderous, sweeping score. They continue in a good vein with a tense sequence in which Roman reinforcements are ambushed in a ravine and forced to fight to the death in a violent battle, where they are shot with arrows and burning grasses threaten to kill them! It's at this point we are introduced to Ladd, who, after a spectacular bit of sword fighting, is injured and captured by the Albans.

He's immediately marched off to their city, where incredibly the sight of wrestling women passes for entertainment (not just Mexico then...). At this point comes one of the film's best scenes, where Ladd is thrown into a pit and is forced to fight off three hunger-starved wolves. Although it's clear that Ladd is never in the same shot as the wolves, the fight scene is expertly staged and highly exciting, culminating in a surprisingly brutal shot of Ladd bludgeoning one of the beasts to death with a rock! After escaping into the care of some hermit-like folk who live in the nearby mountains, Ladd regains his strength and rejoins his people. Here the film slows down a gear, introducing an interesting but ultimately unnecessary subplot about two Romeo and Juliet-like characters who fall in love but are separated by being on either side of the two armies. Meanwhile, the two kings of the city try to keep the peace and devise a plan to reveal the true ruling army, while Ladd must come to terms with his wife marrying his brother (!) and also trying to regain the favour of his people.

Thankfully, all of this doesn't drag on too far, and once again events are thrust into high-gear with a fantastic bout of sword fighting at the film's close. Three brothers from either army must fight it out to the death and in the initial duel, the atmosphere is electric and as good as any gladiator film I've seen. Sadly, the fights seem simply to consist of two men clashing swords together and have very little imagination, a few props here and there certainly wouldn't have gone amiss. There's a short nighttime interlude in some atmospheric woods where Ladd destroys two of his pursuers in a cat and mouse game (his other two brothers having already been murdered). Finally, he goes one on one with the last soldier in a fun battle, the climax of which is pretty obvious but it's pretty exciting anyway.

The film looks impressive, with good sets and scenery and costumes, which make the budget look big even if it probably wasn't (with, I'm sure, much of the money going towards Ladd's own personal pay cheque). The supporting cast of Italians is fine, with some heroic young men for the female viewers and some beautiful young women for the men. Despite being a pretty forgettable movie, this does throw up some interesting ideas and has strength in characterisation, unlike a number of similar peplums which are all-action and no depth. Ladd's presence is also a definite plus for this reviewer. Enjoyable.

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5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Where's the beef?

Author: Poseidon-3 from Cincinnati, OH
26 January 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Ordinarily, sword and sandal epics such as this require a tall, virile, heroic, muscle-bound lead at the helm. Perhaps the filmmakers were going for something different... and they succeeded. The result is a middling-at-best piece of forgettable, low-budget celluloid. As the story begins, Rome and Alba are locked into a long, costly war which neither side seems to be fully capable of winning. Ladd, a commander in the Roman army, falls from grace when he is captured after a battle and not killed. His brother marries his intended bride and plans to run the city of Rome once the present ruler Keith is dead. Eventually, however, the opposing forces realize the futility of the constant warring and decide to place their fates in one solitary battle. Each side must present a trio of brothers. They will fight each other (in the title event) until one side loses all three and the to the victor goes the upper ruling hand. So Ladd is asked to return to Rome and help win his city's independence. Meanwhile his sister has inexplicably fallen in love with one of the opposing brothers following their temporary kidnapping of her! It's an understatement to say that Ladd is miscast here. At 5-1/2 feet tall and 48 years-old (but looking much older), he hardly brings to mind the hearty, powerful type that this role calls for. Besides, his decidedly 20th century hair and nicotine-infused voice, with it's patently mid-western accent, undo any hope of period verisimilitude. He appears to be trying to suggest strength and skill in the fight scenes, but they're nearly all done in close-up so that his grimaces can take the place of any actual physical exertion. The rest is handled by stunt men. This just wasn't his milieu. His daughter appears in the film as well, but her acting career never really materialized. Keith (who makes Ladd look younger by comparison) does a decent enough job, but this is hardly a prestigious end to his lengthy career. A few notable scenes include Ladd's tussle with a trio of wolves and his deep woods dispatching of his opponents (however, wouldn't a true warrior have stood and fought in the appointed battle area and not run off into the trees in order to trap his enemies?) Viewers will also note the preposterously top-heavy (and not exactly easily hidden!) helmets of some of the Alban troops. Fans of Ladd may enjoy this more (and there appears to be a version twenty minutes longer than the currently circulated 85 minute copy), but most gladiator movie fans will feel that something is left wanting.

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