The Grand Duel (1972) Poster

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Actually, the film was shot in multiple languages
clarkb-23 May 2007
The post above that states that this film was shot in English is only partially correct. Each of the characters spoke their own language, and the script was available in quite a few. How do I know -- I am the deputy who goes up to the stagecoach and gets used as Lee van Cleef's coat rack. Lee and Jess did speak English, but the people in the stagecoach spoke mostly Italian. The bounty hunters spoke a multitude of languages, one even spoke Serbo Croatian. Do not know about the speaking any of the cast after the stage left Gila Bend, that was the only part I saw. I was a young Army Officer in Italy and had the opportunity (along with one of my NCOs -- Bill on the rack with the Gila Bend sign) to play the role of the deputies in the beginning of the film. It was an opportunity I will always remember. Lee was a true gentleman, Jess was a hoot, and Lee's stuntman/double, X Brand (Pahoo in the Series Yancy Derringer) was an extremely nice person. I will always remember being in this great film
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7/10
Van Cleef is the standout in a good example of the genre
The_Void12 September 2006
It could be said that The Grand Dual is merely a vehicle for its lead star, and whoever said it wouldn't necessarily be wrong; but while this film doesn't feature a lot of originality, it's also true that Italian cinema was based on repeating itself, and the film definitely succeeds in providing an enjoyable slice of western action. The script was penned by Giallo supremo Ernesto Gastaldi (The Strange Vice of Mrs Wardh, The Case of the Bloody Iris), and that's not surprising as there are shades of Giallo throughout, and the film works both as both as a violent action flick and an intriguing mystery film. The plot focuses on Sheriff Clayton as he becomes involved in the murder of a man so-called 'The Patriarch' through his association with the sly Philipp Wermeer. The film follows the pair as they make their way through bandits and bounty hunters and eventually end up in Saxon town, where the sons of the Patriarch live. They've fingered Wermeer as the murderer of their father, and naturally want him hanged; but there's a twist to the identity of the murderer.

Lee Van Cleef made his name with Sergio Leone and the masterpiece westerns 'For a Few Dollars More' and, of course, 'The Good, The Bad and The Ugly'. This film is nowhere near the quality of those two, but Van Cleef does well in his 'man in black role', which is a variation on the common western 'loner' theme, which was made famous by the likes of Clint Eastwood and Django. Van Cleef's presence is felt throughout, and he continually makes every scene his own. As you might expect, the rest of the cast don't live up to the central star; but even so, The Grand Dual features a good ensemble cast, and Peter O'Brien does especially well in his central role. The film features a lot of shootouts and chases on horseback, which are always good to see; but at times, The Grand Dual puts too much focus on entertainment value and this can mean that the plot suffers. Even so, the story plays out well; and the final twist is a real standout, as even though it's pretty obvious throughout - Gastaldi manages to throw in a twist just before it, which makes the final twist come as a surprise. Overall, this film isn't one of the great Spaghetti westerns - but it's a good one and comes recommended.
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6/10
Lee Van Cleef, Man In Black
cdelacroix127 June 2007
I read the other comments previous to mine, and won't add to what's already been said, except to say that I really thought there were some remarkable features here.

For example, there's the device of panning a shot from point A to point B. I'm sure there's a technical term for this kind of shot, but I'm no professional, and don't know what it is. But what seemed to me unusual was the very smooth, automatic auto-timing of the transition. Say looking at Clayton for a few long seconds; then as if someone flips a switch, the camera looks from Clayton to Wermeer, traveling at a fixed rate of speed; and upon arriving at Wermeer, the camera proceeds to look at Wermeer for several long seconds.

There were some strange anachronisms. The hair styles seemed very much out of 1970s era. Some of the strangest "western" headgear I've ever seen were in evidence. These chapeaux looked more like something from the Mardi Gras of New Orleans or the Carnivale of Milano than any Western story. Likewise, the almost Gucci-esquire look of the attire of Adam Saxon.

Some very "spaghetti western" style over-the-top grittiness. So in the opening scene, the tall, tall, tall rock. Then we have Lee Van Cleef playing Clayton in a black, black Western outfit in stark contrast to the white outfits of the Saxons. Then we have this strange contraption involving a gun booby-trap set up to blow up their carriage on opening the door near Silver Bell. I loved the game of checkers played with full shot glasses that the players drank whenever they "jumped" someone. Then the room Clayton stays in, full of bullet holes in the walls. When he asks the proprietress if he could have another room, she says there are three kinds of rooms there: "rooms with women in them; rooms for card-games; and this one is for shooting bullets in." Nuff said, right? I loved the final scene ... sort of a Spaghetti Western version of the Shootout at the OK Corral. The love of the grotesque - such as Adam Saxon's pock-marked face - he is sardonically called "Pocksy" at one point. The typical spaghetti western tongue-in-cheek humor is present in such bits, and throughout the movie.

All in all, if you like spaghetti westerns, please do yourself a favor, get this one on DVD, and enjoy! Charles Delacroix
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8/10
Above Average Italian Oater Enhanced by Lee Van Cleef and A Terrific Orchestral Score
zardoz-1326 August 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Prolific Spaghetti western scenarist Ernesto Gastaldi penned the script for this Lee Van Cleef continental oater "The Grand Duel," directed with considerable competence by Giancarlo Santi. Although he didn't helm any Spaghetti westerns aside from "Grand Duel" on his own, Santi served as Sergio Leone's assistant director on "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" (1966) and his masterpiece "Once Upon A Time in the West" (1968) as well as Giulio Petroni's assistant director on "Death Rides A Horse"(1967). In short, not only did Santi know how to stage gunfights, but he also knew about the conventions of the Spaghetti western bullet ballet. Originally, Santi was hired to direct "Duck You Sucker," but Rod Steiger's complaints prompted Leone to replace Santi. "The Grand Duel" ranks high up in the lower 25 Spaghetti westerns out of the best 100. Three things make it memorable. First, this above-average shoot'em up benefits largely from Lee Van Cleef's iconic gimlet-eyed presence. Second, the mystery gradually unraveled --presented in surrealistic flashbacks--generates suspense and tension. Third, Sergio Bardotti & Luis Enriquez Bacalov's unforgettable orchestral score that signals the tonal changes in the narrative.

Roughly speaking, the motives of the characters in "The Grand Duel" reverse the relationship between the old gunslinger (Henry Fonda) and youthful gunfighter (Terence Hill) in Tonino Valerii's "My Name Is Nobody." Meanwhile, Van Cleef's entrance in "The Grand Duel" imitates his striking introduction in Leone's "For A Few Dollars More." In these Italian horse operas, Van Cleef is presented initially as a commercial passenger. In "The Grand Duel," he rides in a stagecoach, while he rides in a train with his head bowed beneath a black hat in "For A Few Dollars More." In the latter film, Van Cleef concealed his face behind a huge Bible when he asked the conductor about the train making an unscheduled stop. The conductor warns him they aren't going to stop where Van Cleef's frock-coated, black hat clad character wants. Nevertheless, Van Cleef tugs the emergency cord, halting the train, and disembarks to fetch his horse from the freight car.

As "The Grand Duel" opens, lawmen fire warning shots at the stagecoach that Sheriff Clayton (Lee Van Cleef) is riding in and refuse to let Big Horse (Jess Han of "Escape from Death Row") enter Gila Bend. They explain that escaped killer Philipp Wermeer (one-time-only actor Peter O'Brien, aka Alberto Dentice) has holed up with a girl in town after breaking out of jail in Jefferson. The authorities have posted a $3-thousand bounty on Vermeer's head. Nevertheless, Clayton disembarks and strolls without any apparent concern past two lawmen and several bounty hunters to quench his thirst in Gila Bend. This introductory scene unfolds at a leisurely pace as it covers points, such as where the bounty hunters are hidden and Clayton's imperturbability in the face of death. Clayton indicates the positions of all the bounty hunters to Vermeer. Later, after our wrongly convicted hero eludes the bounty hunters during a furious horse chase. The villains kill his horse, but he flags down a stagecoach. The entire scene resembles the scene from John Ford's "Stagecoach" when Ringo (John Wayne) who was afoot clambered inside the vehicle.

The omniscient Lee Van Cleef hero dominates the action. The hooked-nosed, veteran Hollywood heavy delivers a stern but seasoned performance as the worldly-wise elder. Van Cleef smokes his signature curved pipe. Actually, when we meet Clayton, he is no longer the sheriff of Jefferson. He protested Philip Vermeer's conviction and the authorities stripped him of his badge. Earlier, he had taken the Patriarch to court three times. Eventually, as the best man with a gun in the entire state, Clayton ushers in justice above the law. Anyway, one of the Patriarch's sons Eli Saxon (bald headed Marc Mazza of "Moonraker") accused Philipp Vermeer of killing the Patriarch, (Horst Frank in a dual role wearing whiskers), a wealthy, unscrupulous power-broker hated by half of the state. Vermeer suspects that the Patriarch had his father shot in the back because he learned about the silver on Vermeer's land. Meanwhile, Eli demands to know the identity of the man who killed his father. Clayton reminds Eli that the Patriarch was gunned down from behind and that Vermeer stood in front of them at the railway depot. Clearly, Vermeer couldn't have killed the Patriarch.

The vicious and degenerate "Grand Duel" villains qualify as challenging adversaries. David (Horst Frank of "Johnny Hamlet") rules the Saxon clan, while Eli serves as Saxon City's marshal, and Adam Saxon (Klaus Grunberg of "Fire, Ice, and Dynamite") runs the saloon. Grunberg plays Adam as a depraved homosexual who wears a vanilla-white suit, fedora, and constantly caresses a long scarf looped around his neck. The first time that we see Adam, he guns down an old man that his henchmen have thrown out of the saloon. Later, Adam massacres a wagon train with a machine gun and Brother David orders him to leave no eyewitnesses. David's words: "In a violent country, he who seizes today, controls tomorrow," epitomizes his treachery.

"The Grand Duel" plays out in three settings: first in Gila Bend; second at the isolated Silver Bells stagecoach station, and third in Saxon City where a showdown occurs in the stock pens in traditional western style. Santi never lets the action malinger. He does a good job with the first large-scale gunfight at the stagecoach station. The bounty vermin not only blow-up the stagecoach, but also shoot each other to increase their shares after Vermeer surrenders. The Saxon City shootout when Vermin pole vaults to safety is neat. The black & white night sequence that he stages during the Patriarch's killing has surrealistic quality. Meantime, hardcore Lee Van Cleef fans won't want to miss "The Grand Duel" for its several shootouts as well as the twists and turns in Gastaldi's screenplay. Get the wide-screen Wild East DVD; it surpasses the full-frame, public domain DVD or the foreign, semi-letterboxed version.
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10/10
A brilliant surrealistic Spaghetti Western
mrcleangarrett8 August 2004
This is a brilliant Italian/German/Monocco western that is vastly underrated with touches of Italian Giallo, a little Neo Realism and Nourish properties as well.....also being trendy via having one of the characters, the youngest of the brothers to be homosexual and deadly with a gun...also and interesting mix of flashback desaturated blue filtered monochrome/black and white photography....the film is finally on DVD thru Treeline films, part of a vast 50 films DVD collection.....the only drawback is the film is only formatted via Pan and Scan, which is very apparent, almost like watching a tennis match....well anyway a widescreen print is available this will have to do, but even in Pan and Scan , this is a Grand film and highly recommended for Van Cleef and non Van Cleef fans..also a brilliant score by future Academy Award winner Luis Enrique Bacalov which is making a comeback via the soundtrack to Kill Bill Vol 1.....please get this film along with the collection I mentioned earlier....not bad for $25.00....thanks
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6/10
Acceptable Western revenge plenty of gunplay , thrills and violence
ma-cortes2 June 2006
This is a western vengeance with a young named Philip Wermeer (Peter O'Brian) wrongly accused of killing a patriarch and going after those whom murdered his father . He lives for one purpose to avenge his death but is also pursued by cutthroat bounty hunters and the sheriff of Jefferson named Clayton (Lee Van Cleef) . Philip is besieged and shot dead but he emerged firing his gun and made his escape . But Clayton helps him and during a series of fire-fights , Clayton contrives to help Wermeer getaway from attacks of enemies . Together form an alliance to vanquish the three Saxons brothers (Horst Frank , Klaus Grunberg). Both of whom , Wermeer and Clayton , making a dynamic duo , combining raw untamed youth and the experience only a veteran sheriff can offer . Together, the two make their way to Jefferson , where they can confront outlaws . Weermer is caught and convicted of murdering and sentenced to be hanged . At the end is revealed the amazing truth about who killed The Patriarch .

It's one of the numerous European Western (this time co-produced by Italy, France , Monaco, Germany) posterior to Sergio Leone ¨boom¨ and follows the Spaghetti Western models . Thus , there are violent confronting , harsh and brutal villains , rapid zooms , spectacular and bloody shootouts, and musical score with Ennio Morricone influence . Features appearance by stalwart Spaghetti , Lee Van Cleef , he plays his usual role , even wearing similar black clothes of former characters as Colonel Mortimer , Sentenza and Sabata . It appears known secondary actors from European films as Jess Hahn (Topkapi) and the usually baddie Horst Frank (Vengeance of Fu Manchu) . Special mention to Klaus Grunberg who plays a cruel gay killer . Atmospheric and enjoyable music by Luis Enrique Bacalov , subsequently Oscar winner for ¨The Postino and Pablo Neruda ¨. The direction by Giancarlo Santi is uninspired and predictable although gets a surprising ending . Santi was usually direction assistant to Sergio Leone . The flick will appeal to Lee Van Cleef fans and Spaghetti western buffs .
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8/10
The Man in Black Returns.
Kinski-27 December 1998
The Grand Duel is one of the most under-rated Spaghetti Westerns ever made. Van Cleef returns as the Man in Black and he is at the top of his game. Good action scenes and a great sound track by Luis Enriquez Bacalov under the name Sergio Bardotti. Beware of the cut version under the title Storm Rider.
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6/10
Not Too Grande But Alright
FightingWesterner12 November 2009
Sheriff Lee Van Cleef aids a fugitive convicted of murder in his escape from a group of vicious bounty hunters and involves himself in a murder mystery involving the fugitive and a powerful family of three ruthless brothers.

The Grand Duel is watchable but not particularly exciting or memorable, with the plot taking way too much time to develop with Van Cleef's motivations remaining murky a bit longer than they should.

Horst Frank is good as the eldest brother with delusions of grandeur. His effeminate psycho brother is a lot of fun to watch too.

The title event where Van Cleef takes on multiple gunmen is the best thing about the movie.
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7/10
"Don't worry ma'am, I only kill nice people."
classicsoncall28 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
There's a great DVD set put out by St. Clair Vision that offers nine films, appropriately titled "Spaghetti Westerns", and fairly oozing garlic oil and marinara. If you're only familiar with the Clint Eastwood 'Man With No Name' films, you'll be intrigued and entertained by the offerings here, among them "The Grand Duel". Lee Van Cleef stars doing what he does best, as a calm lawman on the outside with a seething vengeance on the inside. His character is a former marshal, but you're never really sure about that until he produces a star, and even then it's questionable.

The only other Western I can think of that offers a homosexual character is "Little Big Man", and in that picture it was an Indian. Here, one of the Saxon Brothers is an overtly limp wristed, white suited desperado with a silk scarf for added effect. The fact that he's a ruthless gunman is almost beside the fact, his pock marked face is worthy of a seamy horror flick.

The three Saxon Brothers are out to avenge the death of their father, and numerous flashback sequences that offer the darkened outline of the killer point to only one person, and yet when Sheriff Clayton (Van Cleef) reveals it was himself, it almost comes as a surprise. The Saxon's had fingered rival Philip Wermeer (Peter O'Brien) for the murder of the Patriarch; Wermeer's own father in turn had been murdered over his ownership of a silver claim. Early in the story, it appears that Clayton's quarry is Wermeer, until they team up following the apparent killing of Wermeer by bounty hunters - neat twist!

If you're used to the Eastwood style of the genre, you might find the circus type acrobatics of "The Grand Duel" to be somewhat off base, but it seems to be standard fare in some of the other films on the collection I mentioned earlier. Here it's Philip who entertains with some improbable flying maneuvers, but it does make for highly innovative action sequences.

Also pretty clever was the game of checkers at the Saxon City saloon. Played with glasses of whiskey, it seemed to me that the winner would be the guy who got drunk first; after all, you had to down your shot after jumping the opposition.

I would swear I'd heard portions of the musical score in another film, it's so provocative you find yourself actually anticipating some it. There's a definite Ennio Marricone influence, though here it's provided by Sergio Bardotti and Luis Bacalov. Quite definitely another reason to tune in.

"The Grand Duel" is definitely one to sample, coming out near the end of the Eurowest cycle. Be prepared for marshals in business suits and the not so subtle portrayal of a gay bad guy, but also keep an eye out for the new patriarch David Saxon sporting the same dimple in the middle of his chin as the portrait of his father hanging on a wall. If that weren't enough, I'd say the bartender at the Saxon saloon was one gay caballero too!
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6/10
Not so grand. Still, it was an alright film.
ironhorse_iv3 September 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Never consider a gun empty and never think that Spaghetti Westerns ran out of idea bullets. It's never empty of a good story, even if it's presented in a lousy matter. Yes, this movie is deprived of historical accuracies, strange anachronisms and filled with clichés like one kill shots, but it's still worth watching if you like the genre. This film doesn't feature a lot of originality in it, so it's somewhat empty. Director Giancarlo Santi create this film, after years of being assistant-director to Sergio Leone and Giulio Petroni. The Grand Duel might not live up to Sergio Leone's films, but at least it's not the worst. There is a bit of pretentious and silliest in this film. The film starts out with an ex-sheriff name Clayton (Lee Van Cleef) arrived by stage coach, to find out that an escape convict, Phillip Vermeer (Alberto Dentice AKA Peter O'Brien) is hiding out in his town. He is wanted for murdering a local patriarch and even so persecuted by a group of bounty hunters, paid by the patriarch's sons, the Saxons. Clayton believes that Vermeer is innocent, and wants to prove it. The action is well-executed, but way too cheesy. There is a scene where Vermeer shot a man off a building where the man's body fell on a wagon, that slingshot Vermeer over a building, while doing a somersault shot another man from the other side of the room. Yes, totally outlandish acrobatic feats. There are odd scenes, where Vermeer seem dead, and somehow these bounty hunters had no idea to check if he was really dead. Come on, movie! Do you think we're that dumb? At less, the elaborated striptease scene that he had to do, didn't make it to any known final cut of the movie. I don't want to see his hairy nude body around. The only good part about the film is that film turn into a murder mystery. Lee Van Cleef has more a reason to be there and more to do. Half of the time, his character seem bored, and lazy. The final twist, although a bit obvious, is told in a series of flashbacks, shot in de-saturated, heavily filtered colors. It's get really annoying, as the colors change throughout the flashbacks. I would rather those scenes in black and white. It does looks better. The Saxon Brothers are particularly well-cast; and my favorite characters in this film. There is David Saxon (Horst Frank) who plays both the patriarch and his oldest son, a cunning, knowing man with political ambitions, who bides his time; then the middle child, Sheriff Eli Saxon (Marc Mazza) who is a simple and impatient man of action, and then the youngest brother, Adam Saxon (Klaus Grünberg) who steals the movie with his portrayal of a homosexual maniac who kills an entire community of Dutch immigrants just for fun, in a scene so over the top it will leave you cringing. I love how he plays with his scarf all the time, and his face rippled with zits. I love how nearly all the brothers wear white suits. I love how Adam putt on white gloves before executing a defenseless old man, so that it doesn't dirty his hands. Very sinister. The camera angles and shots are just too close or too far away. I can barely see what it is going on. There are scenes with both of them talking to each other, but the other man is not in the shot. I think the main reason why people might remember this movie is because of the score. Director Quentin Tarantino used a part of it for 2003's Kill Bill. This score is attributed to both Luis Bacalov and Sergio Bardotti, but Bacalov sustains he wrote all compositions. According to O'Brien, the music played over the end credits was written by the De Angelis brothers. Edda Dell Orso voice is Italy's greatest treasure, what a voice! She is just amazing in all the work she has done with the great Ennio Morricone and Luis Bacalov. This piece of music in the film is so strong and primitive, you can see the big blue sky, and feel the scorching sun, as sand grates against your pupils. Your eyes squint, sweat trickles down your trigger hand, the whooshing wind taunts your ears and your mind with the gravity of your own mortality. You stare down the would be killer. The music fits in with the final duel in the film. The movie can be found in anything, do to it, being in the public domain. I found my copy on 5 dollar bin at Wal-Mart. The quality copies are below any acceptable standards. The audio is awful. Lot of cackle, crackle noises. The dubbing to English is pretty odd in a way as they left in Italian and Croatian languages without sub-titles. The film footage is full of scratches and blemishes. The 'bloody hand print' shot present in the US trailer is missing from most versions of the US copies. You can find the film on the internet if you want to. The movie has different titles in some recopies and prints out there. In the United States, the film is known as Grand Duel, Storm Rider, the Loner, and the Big Showdown. In the U.K, it's known as Hell's Fighters. Plus, to let you know, Grand Duel is not Big Gundown like some critics say. I watched the Big Gundown version and it's not the same movie. So heads up about that. So check out the film, if not, there is a pretty cool game of Checkers, you can play with glasses of whiskey that I have learned from the film.
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7/10
English and Italian versions
rjobrien_194324 January 2006
The best English version on DVD is the Wild East release. The Italian print has been released on Japanese DVD by Imagica. Contentwise, these versions appear identical. Both run 90 minutes, give or take a few seconds, attributable to print damage and abrupt reel changes. The 'bloody hand print' shot present in the US trailer is missing from both versions. Presumably, the director or producers felt it was too hokey. Given the bloody gunfights, it's unlikely the shot was cut for being too gory. The film was shot in English - albeit without direct sound - making this the preferred audio choice. While Lee Van Cleef and Jess Hahn dubbed themselves, the rest of the cast have the usual 'spaghetti' dubbing, with some English accents thrown in. The Wild East DVD is taken from a faded, battered print, with plenty of dirt and scratches. Curiously, the credits are in Italian, apart from the awkwardly inserted title card. The Imagica DVD has superior picture quality, despite some heavy print damage early on. The image is sharper, the colours stronger. Question: what's the shoe-banging scene all about?
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5/10
Other than blu-ray saying the audio is poor meh Film is okay not great though
PatrynXX12 April 2018
And like most such westerns why are they complaining about the audio. Course a partial italian western is shot in how many language. Would be alot of fun gibberish if everyone spoke what they actually said :)

As for the movie bit. Yeah there's a bit of a twist to this movie . Some needless action though. Didn't we already have a machine gun in a certain Eastwood western. Horrible acting in that one part. Hey stop faking getting shot. Johnny Cage be thinking "this is the part you fall down" zzzzz for a $3 blu ray with 2 movies on it , probably an easier watch than Battlefield Earth and many other westerns for one single reason. Lee Van Cleef. Think I'll stay away from the spoilers on this one.

Quality: 3/10 Entertainment : 6/10 Replayable: 3/10
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7/10
Doesn't break new ground, but still good.
Bezenby12 December 2017
Horst Frank witnesses Horst Frank being shot while hiding in a box. A George Harrison lookalike leaps over an entire building while shooting bounty hunters. A pox ridden gay guy guns down dozens of innocent people. What's going on? Lee Van Cleef knows, but he isn't answering any questions…at all!

Horst is the crooked mayor of Saxon City since his father (also Horst Frank) was probably, but possibly not, gunned down by George Harrison. Horst's brother is the ultra-camp murderer cleaning up loose ends and making sure the family get all the silver that George Harrison's deceased father found in the hills. Lee Van Cleef is the has-been sheriff who is out to clear George Harrison's name, indulge in a bit of banter, be as vague as humanly possible about every question he's asked, and plug him a few bad guys into the bargain.

It's a run of the mill plot that still entertains due to a full on pace, loads of interesting characters, and of course a duel at the end. Good sets in this one too (especially the riverside tavern) which is something I don't say much as usually it's the same set you see over and over and over again. If you're quick you'll spot that ugly bastard that played the Beast in the reprehensible The Beast In Heat.

I guess there's a little influence of the gialli here as the you've got the mystery of who killed Horst Frank's father Horst Frank. I'm just glad they didn't try to turn the "Lee Van Cleef partnering up with a young guy" plot and turn it into a comedy.
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5/10
Average Italo Western with Lee Van Cleef and Barry Gibb (just kidding)
Wuchakk12 September 2016
Released in 1972 (1974 in the USA) and directed by Giancarlo Santi, "The Grand Duel" is a Spaghetti Western starring Lee Van Cleef as a grizzled ex-sheriff who helps a framed man (that looks like Barry Gibb from the Bee Gees) confront the politically powerful trio of brothers who want him slain.

This is an okay Euro-oater, but nothing to write home about. Van Cleef is stalwart as the grim hero, of course, and the three sibling villains are interesting, particularly the whacko effeminate one who massacres scores of settlers with a Gatling gun. The titular confrontation of the climax is akin to the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, albeit with one person against three. In the female department, Dominique Darel and Alessandra Cardini are on hand as Elisabeth and Anita respectively, both good-looking in different ways, but their presence is never capitalized on. 'Barry Gibb' is fine as the secondary protagonist. There are some curious over-the-top sequences, like a character catching a bullet with his teeth and someone else being catapulted, which seem incongruous with the generally serious-but-quirky proceedings.

The movie runs 98 minutes and was shot in Uliveto Terme, Vicopisano, Pisa, Tuscany, Italy, and Elios Studios in Rome.

GRADE: C
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8/10
Superb Spaghetti Western
Coventry12 August 2009
Awesome spaghetti western, with a Lee Van Cleef who never ever looked coolers in his life and arguably the greatest theme song ever composed for a film (and that's something Quentin Tarantino probably agrees with as he also selected the song for the soundtrack of "Kill Bill"). Van Cleef plays former Sheriff Clayton, and obviously he's the type of gunslinger whose eyes are never really closed when he lies asleep with his hat over his face and who spots the hideout of every potential enemy without even lifting his head. Riding along with a traveling stagecoach, Clayton is on the trail of a young fugitive outlaw named Philippe Vermeer. Not for the $1.000 reward on his head, like all the other bounty hunters they encounter along the way, but to keep an eye on him as he's heading towards Saxon City to settle a personal vendetta. Saxon City is kept under the thumbs of the three rich and utterly corrupted Saxon brothers David, Eli and Adam (too bad none of them is named John…) and they falsely accused Philippe of killing their father at Jefferson train station. Although Philippe is innocent of that crime and wisely better stays away from Saxon City, he nevertheless insists on returning to find and get even with the murderer of his own father. Sheriff Clayton just happens to be the only person who can help him with that. "The Grand Duel" has everything you could possible seek in a western: outrageous shootouts, invincible heroes and psychopathic villains (especially Adam, the youngest Saxon, is oddly menacing), compelling sub plots, jaw-dropping moments of intensity, magnificent decors and breath-taking exterior locations and – as said already – an impeccable soundtrack. Director Giancarlo Santi might not be the most prominent name in the field of classic Italian westerns, but he obviously paid close attention to the films of the masters (like Sergio Leone, Sergio Corbucci and Sergio Sollima). Admittedly I'm being a bit too generous and biased here, but it's a brilliantly entertaining example of a sadly extinct cinematic genre.
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6/10
Occasionally stylish spaghetti western let down by too-broad humour
Leofwine_draca24 July 2016
THE GRAND DUEL is a typical entry in the spagwest genre. With a script by Ernesto Gastaldi, Italy's hardest-working scriptwriter of the period, and direction from Giancarlo Santi, who worked as assistant director on THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY, it has brilliant credentials behind it as well as a cast of some of the genre's heaviest hitters. It could have quite easily been a classic and parts of it are – the haunting music and theme that plays repeatedly throughout the movie manages to out-do Morricone and is possibly my favourite spaghetti western score; Tarantino must have liked it too, because he used it in KILL BILL. However, THE GRAND DUEL loses something because of its focus on outrageous comedy and the kind of bumbling antics that Bud Spencer became associated with. If it had stayed deadly serious throughout, I imagine that this would be a much revered film today.

Instead it's merely a quite good western, sometimes very good, sometimes awful. The stunt team is certainly spot on, although I could have done without the see-saw bit at the beginning where a guy is propelled into the air like something out of a cartoon. The action scenes are well handled and the final duel even manages to approach the ending of THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY in terms of quality, with superb accompanying music and decent camera-work. Essentially, though, what makes this more than watchable is the leading presence of Lee Van Cleef, appearing exactly the same as he did in FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE and giving another stern performance with his acting for the most part in his eyes – hands down Van Cleef is my favourite spagwest actor and he hasn't disappointed me yet.

Van Cleef is given some good support, especially from the likes of regular German bad guy Horst Frank and newcomer Peter O'Brien, who only acted in this one film before disappearing off the face of the earth (he looks uncannily like Ray Lovelock in THE LIVING DEAD AT THE MANCHESTER MORGUE). The big and bloated Jess Hahn is also around for comic relief, although he's so badly dubbed that I dreaded him popping up on screen, while Klaus Grunberg has a ball as a homosexual villain and Marc Mazza's bald head steals much of the film. Also present is Dominique Darel, a very attractive leading lady who died at the tender age of 28, six years after this film was released. Italian cinema lost a true beauty with her passing.
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6/10
Decent Spaghetti Western
gavin694210 June 2016
A grizzled ex-sheriff (Lee vanCleef) helps a man framed for murder to confront the powerful trio of brothers who want him dead.

There is a bit of history for the people involved. The film was directed by Giancarlo Santi, who had previously worked as Sergio Leone's assistant director on "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" and "Once Upon a Time in the West". So that's good. Also, the film's music was composed by future Academy Award winner Luis Enríquez Bacalov; the title score was later used in Quentin Tarantino's film "Kill Bill: Volume 1".

As far as spaghetti westerns go, it is decent. Not great, not terrible. Probably not very memorable. Personally, I really like Lee VanCleef, and I think his presence is the film's saving grace. As with many Italian films, the dubbing is cheesy and it is strange to hear VanCleef dubbed when he obviously speaks English. But that's the fun of these films.
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5/10
Isn't that Grand
K_Todorov19 March 2007
"The Grand Duel" directed by Giancarlo Santi is a movie that failed to properly use it's star power and great score. Partial blame for that can be equally divided between the bad editing and annoying female lead. But the biggest and most crucial reason goes to the highly unsatisfying final showdown that fails to keep to the movie's name.

The film stars Lee Van Cleef as a lawman named Clayton who is on the trails of Philipp Wermeer played by Alberto Dentice. Framed for the murder of a high profile person, Wermeer is constantly chased by bounty hunters and only Clayton's timely intervention saves him from death and further, sets him on a course to prove his innocence. From then on the usual bloodbaths begin as both Clayton and Wermeer make their way through hordes of bounty hunters, hired guns and finally the vengeance minded sons of the man Wermeer allegedly killed. To his credit Santi shows great competence when dealing with the shootouts. The opening scenes are especially memorable as Dentice's character shows moves that would later become standard part in action movies. It's a shame only he couldn't be more creative during the final duel, which was borderline ridiculous, lacking in atmosphere and a proper location. Problems don't end with that though, as seen through several moments, the film could have used an extra month in post-production. Scene to scene transition is shabby a good example of that happens shortly after the shootout at the inn in the beginning, with the scene directly cutting into the chase between Wermeer and the bounty hunters, spontaneously changing the music. Ruining the mood. Luis Bacalov made a great score for this film and it wasn't edited well enough in, again as an example take the opening scene when Van Cleef's character is walking to the inn.

On the good side, we have Lee Van Cleef who is his usual "Man In Black" self, delivering a great performance as Sheriff Clayton. The same thing can't be said about the rest of the cast though. Alberto Dentice is average at best but still tolerable. What really got to me was the completely useless and downright annoying female lead. Not only was she testing my patience with horrid dialogue but she was also completely devoid of any sort of characterization. Spaghetti westerns often lack decent female leads and "The Grand Duel" is a typical example of that.

I felt disappointed with "The Grand Duel", because it could have been a good movie had it only been given more time for post-production and a few minor changes to the script. But most of all I was disappointed because Santi failed to make a grand duel in "The Grand Duel".
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8/10
vaguely surreal touches and many a twist and turn
Most entertaining with a solid central performance, of course, by Lee Van Cleef. The support is decent with a blue eyed, acrobatic, hippie child, Alberto Dentice and a trio of baddies and although this starts predictably and simply enough with a stage coach held up and a lot of guys out for a $3,000 bounty, things get more complicated. Indeed while we are happily watching the simple comings and goings as one guy shoots another and a lady falls out of her dress we become aware that there are more and more characters and backstories being introduced. Jolly and probably unwisely 'humorous' at the start this changes along the way and there are b/w flashbacks, aspirations as to The White House, vaguely surreal touches and many a twist and turn. Basically remaining a fairly stock spaghetti, however, this remains enjoyable throughout and until the effective 'grand duel' which isn't really anything of the sort. Great looking with great score.
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9/10
SPAGHETTI SERVED RIGHT Warning: Spoilers
I was never a fan of the spaghetti western. With the exception of the few Sergio Leone films I had a chance to see when younger I'd never really explored the genre. That all changed with Arrow Video. Arrow has made a point of going back and taking some of the most influential films of the genre that rarely played the normal theater circuit back when they were released and issued them in pristine fashion with tons of extras. Now I find myself drawn to them with major thanks to Arrow. Which brings me to THE GRAND DUEL their latest release.

As with KEOMA (also just out from Arrow) this is a movie that's made the rounds from various companies. For a while it seemed like anyone who had a company was putting out this movie. It's even been released as a double feature with the afore mentioned KEOMA. So I wasn't sure what to expect in spite of the fact that it starred one of my favorite western actors Lee Van Cleef. I needn't have worried.

Van Cleef stars as Clayton, an ex-sheriff traveling in a stagecoach that shows up at a stop where a group of bounty hunters is determined to capture Phillip Wermeer (Alberto Dentice). Wermeer is wanted in Saxon by the family the town is named after. He's been accused of killing Ebenezer Saxon, the patriarch of the family. Wanted dead or alive with a $3000 price on his head, it's fortunate for him that Clayton has arrived. With no recourse he allows the bounty hunters to take Wermeer. Elisabeth, a female passenger who's taken a shine to Wermeer, talks to Clayton who tells her that Wermeer is innocent.

Clayton catches up to the bounty hunters and finds them questioning Wermeer. It turns out they're more interested in finding out where Wermeer's father hid some silver than the reward. Clayton frees Wermeer and the pair head for Saxon with Wermeer still a free man.

Arriving in Saxon the pair discover that the sons of Ebenezer, David, Eli and Adam, are waiting with the hope of hanging Wermeer. Eli is now the town's sheriff and he and Clayton don't see things eye to eye. Wermeer demands to know who killed his father as he remains accused of killing Ebenezer. But things aren't all what they appear and the only one who seems to know what has really taken place is Clayton. Just who will come out in the end is up for grabs until the final moments of the film.

Unlike many of the spaghetti westerns released during their heyday this one offers a deeper plot than most. I don't recall any having as much as this one does with perhaps the exception of ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST. It keeps you guessing and trying to decipher just who was responsible for the death of not only Ebenezer but Wermeer's father as well.

There isn't a bad acting job to be seen here. Van Cleef remains one of the coolest of characters here just as he did in so many westerns. Dentice is a match for him as a naïve and strong headed young man trying to seek justice and stay alive at the same time. Klaus Grunberg as the slightly effeminate brother Adam is something different to see decked in white and ready to kill those who oppose the family.

This was only one of three films directed by Giancarlo Santi which is a disappointment. He does a great job here. His time spent as an assistant director on movies like THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY, DEATH RIDES A HORSE, ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST and DUCK YOU SUCKER paid off when it came to directing this film. Why he stopped with three films I couldn't find out.

Arrow has done a fantastic job with this release starting off with a hi def 1080p presentation. But let's face it, when it comes to Arrow you know that the extras are going to equal the film itself and this time around is no exception to that rule. The extras on this release include a new audio commentary track with film critic/historian Stephen Prince, AN UNCONVENTIONAL WESTERN a new interview with director Santi, THE LAST OF THE GREAT WESTERNS a new interview with screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi, COWBOY BY CHANCE an interview with actor Dentice aka Peter O'Brien, OUT OF THE BOX a new interview with producer Ettore Rosboch, THE DAY OF THE BIG SHOWDOWN a new interview with assistant director Harald Buggenig, SAXON CITY SHOWDOWN a new filmed video appreciation with academic Austin Fisher, the original Italian and international theatrical trailers, an extensive image gallery, a reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork by Matt Griffin, TWO DIFFERENT DUELS a comparison between the original cut and the longer German cut of the film, GAME OVER an obscure sci-fi short directed by Bernard Villiot starring Marc Mazza who plays Eli Saxon and MARC MAZZA: WHO WAS THE RIDER ON THE RAIN? a video essay about the elusive actor by tough-guy film expert Mike Malloy.

This is a movie that everyone can enjoy and a western that fans should make a part of their collection. Not just fans of spaghetti westerns but westerns in general. It was a movie that can be watched and enjoyed with repeated viewing and I know it is a welcome addition to my shelf here, one to be revisited time and time again.
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8/10
Gotta see it
cwhaskell25 June 2011
From the opening credits I was struck by how solid a movie this was. From beginning to end it had my attention, and I realized about midway through that films like this are why the genre has maintained a following over the years. Anybody could sit down and enjoy the memorable villains, road tested grizzly sheriff that fights for truth, and just enough of twists of the plot to keep it interesting. I can understand why Tarrantino used bits of this score in Kill Bill, the music in the movie set the mood perfectly.

The quality of the picture I watched wasn't great, but really wasn't that bad considering it was part of a 44 spaghetti western collection on only 11 discs!
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8/10
Van Cleef once again delivers the goods.
Hey_Sweden16 May 2015
Ernesto Gastaldi ("My Name is Nobody", "Torso") wrote this very fine film that neatly combines the Spaghetti Western and murder mystery genres. Alberto Dentice plays Philipp Wermeer, a man desperate to know the identity of the man who shot his father. Philipp himself is accused of murdering the evil Patriarch of a desert town, and escapes from prison. Assisting Philipp is leathery former sheriff Clayton (Lee Van Cleef), who believes Philipp to be innocent. On the other side are the Patriarchs' angry sons, one of whom, David (Horst Frank) is a power hungry madman.

Director Giancarlo Santi was Sergio Leones' assistant director on "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" and "Once Upon a Time in the West", and it's obvious that he learned all the right lessons. He gives "The Grand Duel" a very operatic feel, enhanced in no small part by the majestic soundtrack composed by Luis Bacalov and Sergio Bardotti. It's a score good enough to compare favourably to the best work of Morricone. The widescreen photography is simply gorgeous. The story is well paced and entertaining, no matter if the viewer figures things out before the climactic revelation or not. One very nice touch is the way that Santi shoots the flashback sequences (in which Frank also plays the Patriarch), in atmospheric black & white. The stunts are impressively acrobatic and the action is first rate. The final showdown of the title is over fairly quickly but that doesn't make it any less effective.

Van Cleef displays a quiet cool, as he always does, and the rugged Dentice is engaging as the murder suspect. The performances across the board are quite hearty, especially from the likes of Jess Hahn, as Bighorse the stage driver, and Antonio Casale as nefarious bounty hunter Hole. Klaus Grunbergs' effeminate performance as Adam Saxon, a young man clearly not that happy at the thought of marriage to a woman, is amusing.

A solid example of the genre overall, recommended to its devotees.

Eight out of 10.
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9/10
Good Spaghetti Western
cynthiahost17 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I though this was a very good film.Shot in the hippie and Deep Throat era of 1972.It's hippie in some of the styles.Which are not accurate.some of the scenes look very staged.The towns look like a quick set up.This was a low budget western for a Lee van Cleef vehicle.Clint Eastwood westerns had a bigger budget.The bad guy is played by a very Hippie Alberto Dentice as Philipp.He's been accused of murdering the crooked leader of a western town Saxon City, Patriarch Samuel Saxon ,played by Horst Frank,who does not say any word in this picture.He's only in a flash back,in black n white. Lee Van Cleef plays Sheriff Clayton, Who tries to help Phil,but he's stubborn.One of the crooked Saxon Brothers who was sheriff Eli,played by Marx Mazza had witness that Phil did not kill their daddy.It was the other Saxon Brother ,Adam, who saw it,but he's framing Phil cause his father owned a silver mind and the brothers are power hungry,the way the corporate acting film making and distribution business are.I am wondering if the Adam character, who looks like he has syphilis marks in his face, played by Klaus Grunberg,is he suppose to be a fop? Weakling and coward ? Or is his character suppose to suggest he's gay?this character wears white gloves.This character is pushed to marry a woman ,who's a daughter of a government official,Elizabeth,played by Dominique Darel,sounds like a french porn actress name.I just made a mistake,the actor who played the elder Saxon is not mentioned.It was his son Samuel,played by Horst Frank,that saw the father being murdered.Adam was the younger.Now you got your character in this film ,like the madam played by Elvira Cortese,who's bringing Anita to the whore house ,played by Alessandra Cardini.These saloon girls are happy hookers.They love their job .Isn't that typical of the 70's? The scene where the caretaker,another character ,who looks like a figure from Mathew Brady's photos ,in color, is at the whore house and has fallen in love with Anita and tries to propose to her.Her answer is ,"yes! as long as you give me another twenty five dollars".Then you have the European version of Gabby Hayes,as the stage coach driver,played by Jess Hahn,which you see later at the Happy hookers saloon having fun with a saloon girl.This was a real fun western.I got it as a part of a double feature spaghetti western on blu-ray at Wall mart for a very low price.04/18/13
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8/10
"Klaus Grunberg... is a fine Spaghetti Western psycho" - Alex Cox, "10,000 Ways to Die".
JohnWelles23 September 2010
"The Grand Duel" (1972), directed by Giancarlo Santi, is a fun Spaghetti Western that is also one of Quentin Tarantino's favourite film's (he uses the music by Luis Bacalov in "Kill Bill"). The screenplay is not overly complex that has at least one quite surprising twist: Lee Van Cleef plays an ex-lawman called Clayton who protects Newman (Peter O'Brien) from a false murder rap. In trying to find the real killers, he makes enemies of the powerful Saxon Clan. This, of course, ends in the titular confrontation that takes place in a series of Corrals and looks very, very good. It's not as prolonged as Sergio Leone' showdowns, but it is still really quite tense. The score is tuneful, the acting is passable, although Van Cleef and Klaus Grünberg are honourable exceptions and the direction is very confidant, surprising when you lean that this was Santi's only Western (but he was Leone's assistant director on "Duck, You Sucker!" [1971]).
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