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The Grand Duel Blu-ray Review


“The Grand Duel” is a solid spaghetti western.

Directed by Giancarlo Santi (who was an assistant director to Sergio Leone), “The Grand Duel” (AKA “The Big Showdown”) revolves around a fugitive (Philip) wrongfully framed for murder of Old Man Saxon (AKA The Patriarch), the despicable and power hungry 3 Saxon Brothers, a group of double crossing bounty hunters who are after Philip, a stagecoach full of travelers (who are essentially subplots), and an ex-Sheriff (Clayton) who knows who the real murderer is.

While not on the level of some of the classic Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns, “The Grand Duel” is a respectable entry in the subgenre. While exciting and full of shootouts, the script by Ernesto Gastaldi is rather frustrating at times as it takes awhile to get to where it’s going. Clayton certainly bides his time in telling the truth making his journey (particularly with Philip) rather odd considering how many locations they wind up. Granted, Gastaldi had to build suspense and pad the runtime with characterization, but from a storytelling perspective, it doesn’t quite work. Thankfully, director Giancarlo Santi makes up for the script’s shortcomings with some breathtaking imagery and some fantastic location shooting to boot.

Where “The Grand Duel” really shines is with some of the performances. Lee Van Cleef is the stand-out here as the gruff and mysterious bad-ass Clayton. He owns the movie and without him I’m not sure it works as well as it does. Klaus Grunberg also makes an impression here as the creepy white suit wearing, scar faced, scarf stroking villainous Adam Saxon.

A special shoutout needs to go to the great score by Luis Bacalov which was famously used in “Kill Bill.” In fact, this entire movie has a major Tarantino influence.


Presentation: 2.35:1 1080p. How does it look? This new 2K restoration maintains the film grain while also offering up a beautiful new transfer filled with rich colors.

Audio Track: Uncompressed Mono 1.0 LPCM. How does it sound? Viewers have the option of playing the English or Italian version of the film and, honestly, both tracks are sufficient if a bit muted.

* A booklet containing credits, an essay by film historian Kevin Grant, photos, a few original reviews, and Bernard Villiot talking about the short “Game Over.”
* International and Italian trailer for “The Grand Duel.”
* 3 still galleries for lobby cards, stills, posters and press and super 8mm, home video and soundtrack sleeves.
* “Game Over”- A 9 minute 1984 short sci-fi film starring Marc Mazza.
* “Marc Mazza: Who Was The Rider On The Rain?”- A video essay about the actor by documentarian Mike Malloy.
* “An Unconventional Western”- A 31 minute interview with director Giancarlo Santi who talks about his career, behind-the-scenes stories, “The Grand Duel,” and more.
* “The Last Of The Great Westerns”- A new 25 ½ minute interview with screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi. * “Cowboy By Chance”- A 35 minute interview with actor Alberto Dentice/Peter O’Brien who plays Philip.
* “Out Of The Box” is an interview with producer Ettore Rosboch, “The Day of the Big Showdown” contains an interview with assistant director Harald Buggenig,
* “Saxon City Showdown”- A 15 ½ minute video appreciation by Austin Fisher.
* “Two Different Duels”- A comparison of the original cut of the film with a longer German cut.
* A scripted commentary by film critic and film historian Stephen Prince. Informative, but not a great listen.

April 22, 2019 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , ,

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