Grand Duel (The) AKA Il Grande duello AKA The Big Showdown AKA Storm Rider (Blu-ray) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray B - United Kingdom - Arrow Films
Review written by and copyright: Paul Lewis (17th May 2019).
The Film

Il grande duello / The Grand Duel / The Big Showdown / Storm Riders (Giancarlo Santi, 1972)

Synopsis: A stagecoach arrives at the small mining town of Gila Bend but its entry into the town itself is prevented by a group of bounty killers who have arrived in Gila Bend, placing its residents in fear of their lives, with the intention of killing and capturing Philip Vermeer (Alberto Dentice). Vermeer is a fugitive, having escaped from the law in Jefferson, and is wanted for murdering a wealthy landowner named Saxon, a founding father of Saxon City, the settlement named after him.

Aboard the stagecoach is Clayton (Lee Van Cleef), the disgraced former sheriff of Saxon City. Clayton coolly disobeys the bounty killers who have ‘locked down’ Gila Bend, using a variety of techniques to reveal their locations to Vermeer so that Vermeer knows where they are hiding. When a gunfight breaks out between the bounty hunters and Vermeer, Clayton assists Vermeer in escaping from Gila Bend, offering him a ride in the stagecoach – much to the chagrin of his bourgeois fellow passengers.

The stagecoach stops for the night at the Silver Bell staging post. During the evening, Vermeer informs his fellow travellers that he is wanted for the murder of old man Saxon (Horst Frank), nicknamed ‘the Patriarch’, because Vermeer had a strong motive for killing Saxon: Saxon had Vermeer’s father murdered, so as to get his hands on the silver-rich land that Vermeer’s father owned. The group are once again surrounded by bounty killer, but Clayton and Saxon manage to flee.

The pair reach Saxon City, which is now presided over by the Patriarch’s three spoilt, entitled sons: Eli (Marc Mazza), who plays at being the town’s sheriff; the cruel and sadistic Adam (Klaus Grunberg), who delights in causing suffering and committing murder; and the oldest of the siblings, David (Horst Frank, in a dual role), who has been using the funds from his family’s ‘acquisition’ of the Vermeer silver mine to further his political ambitions.

The arrival of Vermeer and Clayton in Saxon City causes consternation for the three Saxon brothers. The conflict escalates and, using a mounted machine gun, Adam Saxon massacres a group of people, including women and children, who are sympathetic to Vermeer. The stage is set for a showdown between the Saxon brothers and Clayton and Vermeer.

Critique: Released under a plethora of titles (including The Big Showdown, Hell’s Fighters and Storm Rider) in various territories, The Grand Duel was one of a series of westerns all’italiana/Spaghetti Westerns that featured Lee Van Cleef as an austere ‘mentor’ to a younger gunslinger. To cite but two examples, this paradigm underpins Tonino Valerii’s I giorni dell’ira (Day of Anger, 1967), in which Van Cleef mentors Giuliano Gemma’s aspiring gunfighter; and Giulio Petroni’s Da uomo a uomo (Death Rides a Horse, also 1967), which focuses on Van Cleef’s character assisting John Phillip Law in exacting revenge upon the men who killed his parents. Bert Fridlund has referred to these films as ‘tutorship’ Westerns, noting that in The Grand Duel, as in Death Rides a Horse and Day of Anger, Van Cleef’s character ‘is party to a misdeed against’ his younger companion (Fridlund, 2006: 168). As Fridlund observes, The Grand Duel somewhat inverts the mentor/mentee relationship seen in Death Rides a Horse and Day of Anger: in those films, the younger mentee (John Philip Law/Giuliano Gemma) pursues the somewhat unwilling mentor (Van Cleef) and tries to deepen their relationship; in this picture, it is the other way around, with Clayton pursuing Vermeer. And where, in Death Rides a Horse and Day of Anger, Van Cleef’s character offers fairly structured ‘lessons’ to the mentee (in the case of Day of Anger, Van Cleef offers Gemma a series of numbered protocols for a career as a gunfighter), in The Grand Duel ‘[t]he actual “tutoring” [of the younger character by Van Cleef] is also considerably diluted’ (ibid.).

Initially, within The Grand Duel Clayton is assumed by the other characters to be motivated by a desire to collect the bounty on Vermeer’s head. However, this is revealed to be incorrect: Clayton wishes to clear Vermeer’s name and to remedy an injustice. (‘I don’t kill for money’, Clayton tells one of the bounty killers in Gila Bend, with clear disdain for the man’s choice of ‘profession’.) Aside from showing a sympathetic relationship between a free-thinking lawman and an outlaw that is reminiscent of Corbett’s (Van Cleef) association with Cuchillo (Tomas Milian) in Sergio Sollima’s La resa dei conti (The Big Gundown, 1966), this development plays consciously with Van Cleef’s role in Sergio Leone’s Per qualche dollaro in piu (For a Few Dollars More, 1965), in which Van Cleef’s character (Colonel Mortimer) is initially assumed to be a bounty killer with a purely financial motive for pursuing El Indio (Gian Maria Volonte) and his gang of outlaws, but as the narrative progresses it becomes apparent that Mortimer has a more ‘righteous’ motive and is instead seeking revenge for the death of his sister. At the end of the film, Mortimer even gives his share of the bounty away to his younger helper, Manco (Clint Eastwood), who is motivated purely by financial gain. Of course, For a Few Dollars More introduced and consolidated the austere screen persona Van Cleef would continue throughout most of his appearances in subsequent westerns all’italiana: clad entirely in black and, with a few exceptions (such as his role as ‘the bad’ in Il buono, il cattivo, il bruto/The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, 1966), Van Cleef’s characters in these pictures have an almost Puritan worldview and could arguably be compared to Robert E Howard’s sombre Puritan adventurer Solomon Kane, who wanders from place to place seeking to vanquish evil. Like Van Cleef’s other characters in westerns all’italiana, Clayton demonstrates a feline coolness under pressure. In the film’s opening sequence, Clayton is approached by one of the bounty killers who have locked down Gila Bend. The man holds a gun on Clayton, who responds simply by hanging his traveling bag from the man’s gun barrel and draping his black cape over the man’s outstretched gun arm.

In The Grand Duel, ‘evil’ takes the form of the three Saxon brothers, sons of old man Saxon, who is referred to in the dialogue as ‘the Patriarch’. These three brothers each have their own peccadilloes and rule the town with an iron fist. Eli Saxon functions as the town’s sheriff, whilst David Saxon has political ambitions and is using the income from the Vermeer mine to fund his attempts to work his way into the White House. ‘Sometimes you talk as if you’d like to run for president’, Adam Saxon tells David; ‘I like to look far ahead’, David responds. The most outwardly cruel of these brothers, Adam Saxon is a dandified gunslinger, dressed all in white and with his face covered in acne, who is introduced goading an elderly man into drawing his pistol so that Adam may gun him down in cold blood and, when he does so, look disgusted when the dying elderly man places a bloody handprint on Adam’s pristine white suit. Adam’s behaviour in his introductory scene is highly reminiscent of the sequence in George Stevens’ Shane (1953) in which Jack Palance torments Elisha Cook Jr into drawing his revolver, a moment from that picture that was the memorable source of an infamous satirical joke by Bill Hicks during the 1990s. However, things had changed between the mid-1950s and the early-1970s: where in Shane, Palance’s gunslinger had been clad entirely in black, in The Grand Duel the sadistic Adam is bedecked entirely in pristine white. Adam Saxon is also clearly gay, discontent in the marriage of convenience that has been arranged between himself and the daughter of a judge. The Saxons are one in a long line of ‘corrupt’ families that preside over parochial towns in a number of westerns all’italiana, especially in some of the Spaghetti Westerns made late in the cycle such as Enzo Girolami’s Keoma (1976). An amplification of a tendency found in ‘town tamer’ American Westerns, these towns in westerns all’italiana invariably feature a character who rides into them and overcomes the sick, wealthy and degenerate rulers, liberating the people within. Certainly, this theme no doubt spoke to the proletarian audiences in provincial towns who were the chief domestic audience for westerns all’italiana, but it also perhaps articulated something about Italy’s Fascist past. One can imagine provincial audiences jeering and heckling the Saxons, and in particular David’s mealy-mouthed discussion of bringing ‘peace’, ‘law’ and ‘order’ to town – and seizing power in Washington.

Both Day of Anger and The Grand Duel were written by Ernesto Gastaldi, and where Valerii has described Day of Anger as ‘the long search for the father’, the same could arguably be said of The Grand Duel (Valerii, quoted in Curti, 2016: 44). In The Grand Duel, Van Cleef’s Clayton expresses an almost paternalistic interest in outlaw Vermeer, protecting him from the bounty hunters in the film’s opening sequence and helping him in his quest for revenge against the Saxons. Gastaldi’s sympathy with the narrative conventions of the whodunit (represented most famously in his work as a writer for numerous examples of the giallo all’italiana/Italian-style thriller) is evident in the plotting of The Grand Duel through the story’s focus on the true identity of the man who killed old man Saxon. In true whodunit fashion, this aspect of the film’s story is worked into the story via a series of grainy, high contrast monochromatic flashbacks showing the Patriarch being gunned down at a train station by an assassin who conveniently remains in shadow. These analepses find their pay-off at the film’s climax, when a further, final flashback reveals the identity of the killer. This aspect of The Grand Duel again seems to owe a significant debt to For a Few Dollars More and the manner in which, in that picture, Leone interwove nightmarish flashbacks to the sexual assault and murder of a woman by a younger El Indio (Volonte). At the end of the film, Leone reveals that these flashbacks are shared by both El Indio and Colonel Mortimer, who is the brother of the murdered woman and has pursued the bandit in order to seek revenge for his sister’s death.

With the whodunit plot driving it, the narrative of The Grand Duel builds towards its climactic ‘grand duel’ in which Clayton faces off against the three Saxon brothers in a cattleyard. Each brother stands in a separate cattle pen; and as Clayton advances, each Saxon brother, in turn, backs through a gate into the next pen. As Alex Cox has noted in his book 10,000 Ways to Die: A Director’s Take on the Spaghetti Western, this sequence displays a visual flourish which nevertheless, on a narrative level at least, doesn’t make a great deal of sense. But then, the same could be said of many westerns all’italiana, from Leone’s Per un pugnio di dollari/A Fistful of Dollars (1964) onwards. As Cox says in his discussion of the aforementioned climax from The Grand Duel, ‘[a]s a filmmaker, you enjoy it because you know there’s a crew member hiding out of shot, who grabs the gate and stops it flying back and hitting Lee Van Cleef. But why does David Saxon […], having thrown open his gate, walk backwards, in unison with brother Eli […]? It looks good, and it’s done in time to the music. But doesn’t walking backwards while maintaining eye contact with Lee Van Cleef put you at a disadvantage? All is sacrificed for the conceit of the shot, and to the Spaghetti Western convention that villains, about to be shot, will stand in a straight line’ (Cox, 2010).

As with many late-period westerns all’italiana, The Grand Duel features some jarring moments of visual humour, on a level with Benny Hill sketches, which were obviously inserted to please the provincial domestic audiences for these pictures. When Clayton and Vermeer escape from Gila Bend, we are presented with Vermeer being chased back and forth through a zig-zagging canyon, with jaunty ‘yakety sax’ style music on the soundtrack. (As an interesting aside, as a teenager I had a girlfriend whose father had been in the armed forces in the East during the early to mid 1970s, and he said that when stationed out there, during their down time he and his colleagues would often find a cinema showing a localised version of a Spaghetti Western because the films’ stories were so heavily visual that it didn’t matter if they didn’t understand the dialogue – because the films would often be dubbed into the local language.) The Italian version underscores the visual humour with some more crude humour in the dialogue (this is largely absent in the English language version of the picture). In many cases, the Italian dialogue is a little more ‘earthy’ than the English language dialogue. For example, during the night the passengers in the stagecoach spend at the Silver Bell staging post, in the Italian version the operator of the staging post expresses himself in a much more vulgar manner than in the English version of the film (‘Who hides in that shithole?’ ‘You want to take a piss?’, he asks a bourgeous woman, adding that ‘If five horses piss there, why can’t you?’).



Video

Filling approximately 21Gb of space on the Blu-ray disc, Arrow’s 1080p presentation of The Grand Duel uses the AVC codec. The film runs for 93:36 and suffers a 5 second BBFC-imposed cut to a sight of a cruel horsefall. (Arrow have also released the film on Blu-ray in the US, uncut and with a running time of 93:49. Note that if the UK disc is played in a region ‘A’ player, it defaults to the uncut version of the film as per the US release; EDITED TO ADD Eric Cotenas has confirmed that the US disc, on the other hand, plays the same uncut version of the film on both region 'A' and region 'B' players.)

The film exists in a variety of different cuts. The film’s earliest DVD releases, from SPO in Japan and Wild East in the US (where it was paired with Beyond the Law), caused some consternation amongst fans in online forums when it was discovered that these presentations omitted some snippets of material that could be found in the German VHS release of the picture. These releases contained a slightly shorter cut of the film that was apparently prepared for the Italian domestic market. (That said, the elusive German VHS cut was itself missing over a minute of footage that was otherwise to be found in the shorter Italian cut of the picture.) Whilst Arrow's Blu-ray release is longer than the SPO/Wild East DVD releases, it is also shorter than the aforementioned German cut, the unique scenes from which are presented separately and discussed in the featurette entitled 'Two Different Duels' that is contained within the contextual material on the disc.

The presentation is based on a new 2k restoration which uses the negative as its source. The Grand Duel was shot in Techniscope, the 2-perf widescreen format in which many westerns all’italiana were photographed. This presentation retains the film’s intended aspect ratio of 2.35:1.

As with other Techniscope pictures, the film was made using spherical lenses. Techniscope and similar 2-perf widescreen processes were cost-saving in the sense that they enabled the production of a widescreen image without the use of expensive anamorphic lenses, and by reducing the size of each frame by half (from 4-perforations to 2-perforations) halved the negative costs involved in making a film. (However, this was reputedly offset to some extent by more expensive lab costs, which for Techniscope productions steadily increased throughout the 1970s; this is sometimes cited as one of the reasons why Techniscope became less popular during the late 1970s and early 1980s.)

Release prints of Techniscope pictures were made by anthropomorphising the image and doubling the size of each frame, resulting in a grain structure that was noticeably more dense than that of widescreen films shot using anamorphic lenses. (This was compounded in many 1970s Techniscope productions by the movement away from the dye transfer processes used by Technicolor Italia during the 1960s and towards the use of the standard Kodak colour printing process, which necessitated the production of a dupe negative, with the additional ‘generation’ of the material making the grain structure of the release prints of Techniscope productions during the 1970s more coarse and the blacks less rich.) Another of the characteristics of Techniscope photography was an increased depth of field. Freed from the need to use anamorphic lenses, cinematographers using the Techniscope process were able to employ technically superior spherical lenses with shorter focal lengths and shorter hyperfocal distances, thus achieving a greater depth of field, even at lower f-stops and even within low light sequences. By effectively halving the ‘circle of confusion’, the Techniscope format shortened the hyperfocal distances of prime lenses and altered the field of view associated with them – so an 18mm lens would function pretty much as a 35mm lens, and shooting at f2.8 would result in similar depth of field to shooting at f5.6. The use of shorter focal lengths also prevented the subtle flattening of perspective that comes with the use of focal lengths above around 85mm. (The noticeably increased depth of field, combined with short focal lengths/wide-angle lenses, is a characteristic of many films shot in Techniscope, including Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars, 1964.)

The photography in The Grand Duel (by Mario Vulpiani, who was more known for shooting urban crime films than Westerns) makes strong use of the sense of depth engendered by the Techniscope process. Many scenes, including low light scenes, are photographed in depth. The Grand Duel is a beautifully shot Western which makes full use of the ‘scope frame to provide a sense of depth and context within the compositions; in the early years of home video The Grand Duel was seriously compromised by the pan-and-scanned VHS and Betamax tapes that were available – much like the Leone westerns all’italiana. Throughout the presentation, there is a very impressive level of detail on display, with fine detail being present in close-ups. This is a noticeable improvement on the film’s previous Blu-ray release in the US from Mill Creek, and from the various DVD releases that have been in existence. Colours are rich and consistent, and tones are slightly more ‘earthy’ than those found in the Mill Creek Blu-ray release. Arrow’s presentation of The Grand Duel is a new 2k restoration based on the film’s negative. By going back to the negative, Arrow’s presentation has a greater resemblance to Techniscope films of the 1960s and early 1970s, printed using the due transfer process, rather than the standard Kodak colour printing process used for Techniscope pictures made during the mid/late 1970s. Contrast levels are very nicely balanced. Midtones are rich and defined, with subtle tapering into the toe where one can find deep, inky blacks. The shoulder is balanced and even. The high contrast, grainy monochromatic flashbacks which punctuate the story are handled efficiently too. The encode to disc is more than acceptable, carrying the presentation in a way that retains the structure of 35mm film – far more so than any of the film’s previous home video releases, including the Mill Creek Blu-ray.



Some full-sized screengrabs are included at the bottom of this review. Please click to enlarge them.

Audio

The menus offer the viewer the chance to select either the Italian or English versions of the film. This determines both the language of the onscreen text and the spoken language. Audio options are either: i) an Italian LCPM 1.0 track with optional English subtitles; or ii) an English LPCM 1.0 track with optional English subtitles for the Hard of Hearing. Both tracks are clear and with a good range, though the Italian track is slightly ‘cleaner’ with a richer sense of bass.

There are some interesting differences between the Italian dialogue and that of the English language version. Most of this amounts to exchanges that are very slightly different in terms of their connotations but which don’t have a great deal of bearing on the narrative. In the English version, the dispute between Vermeer and the Saxons focuses on Vermeer’s father’s discovery of silver; in the Italian version, it’s a vein of gold that is the source of the territorial dispute. Near the start of the film, two bounty hunters discuss the stagecoach which has arrived at Gila Bend; in the English version, one of the bounty hunters assert, ‘Shit, I thought we was meant to be stopping people’. In the Italian version, the character instead asks the rhetorical question, ‘So we’re just going to let everyone in?’ Elsewhere, the Italian track is ‘busy’ in moments which, in the English track, are dominated by silence: when Vermeer and Clayton are holed up in Gila Bend, for example, the Italian version features the cries and yells of the bounty killers outside, but on the English track the scene is quiet except for ambient foley effects.



Extras

The disc includes:
- An audio commentary by Stephen Prince. Prince offers a typically well-researched and detailed track that explores The Grand Duel’s relationship with other examples of the Spaghetti Western, particularly through the manner in which the film exploits/capitalises on Van Cleef’s persona in these pictures. Prince explores the production of the film and considers too the input of the film’s key crew.

- ‘An Unconventional Western’ (31:40). Director Giancarlo Santi is interviewed and talks about how he was approached to direct the film after Lee Van Cleef had already been signed as the star of it. The film’s producers knew Santi from his days as an assistant to directors like Marco Ferreri and Sergio Leone. Santi reflects on how they found financing for the picture and describes The Grand Duel as a ‘lucky break’ which led him to feeling ‘compelled to do a good job and repay their trust’. He talks about the ‘spat’ he had with Sergio Leone, when after Once Upon a Time in the West Leone described Santi as his ‘heir’ and told him he would direct the next picture. With Duck, You Sucker, Santi was advertised as the director of the picture but Rod Steiger wanted Leone to direct the film, so Santi was replaced. Santi goes on to discuss his relationship with Leone following The Grand Duel and offers an anecdote as to how he was asked to direct My Name is Nobody. Santi also discusses the lasting legacy of The Grand Duel and describes Tarantino’s use of Luis Bacalov’s music from The Grand Duel as ‘wrongful cultural appropriation [… and] downright theft’. The interview is in Italian with optional English subtitles.

- ‘The Last of the Great Westerns’ (25:37). Ernesto Gastaldi talks about his role as the film’s scriptwriter. Gastaldi reflects on Santi’s emulation of Leone’s style and says the film is simply ‘a western. We weren’t looking for a masterpiece’ though did very well at the box office. Gastaldi offers a reflection of an event at which Leone and Santi met, after the success of The Grand Duel, and Leone observed that Santi had ‘grown a beard like mine’, adding that ‘Only geniuses and assholes can have a beard like that’. Santi was embarrassed and didn’t know how to react, but Gastaldi quipped back, ‘Sergio, don’t tell me you think you’re a genius’. Gastaldi adds that he has always ‘abhorred the idea of men in positions of power abusing or humiliating those working for them’. This interview is in Italian with optional English subtitles.

- ‘Cowboy by Chance’ (35:32). Alberto Dentice reflects on how he came to be an actor in films. He reflects on some of the pictures he shot, linking his work with the countercultural movement of the late 1960s, and he talks about how he came to be associated with Michelangelo Antonioni, meeting Santi during the production of The Passenger. He also describes working with Van Cleef, suggesting that Van Cleef was ‘a man of few words’ whose presence was nevertheless ‘mesmerising’. Dentice and Van Cleef would play guitar together during their time off-set. The interview is in Italian with optional English subtitles.

- ‘Out of the Box’ (29:02). Producer Ettore Rosboch discusses his role in the making of The Grand Duel, a film that was made because his co-producer Croscicki came into possession of a contract signed by Lee Van Cleef which meant that Van Cleef was obliged to star in another film. Rosboch suggests that ‘from a production standpoint, the western is a complex genre’ which requires the investment of a lot of time and money into staging some of its action scenes and getting costumes and sets right. This interview is also in Italian with optional English subtitles.

- ‘The Day of the Big Showdown’ (21:07)
. In this interview, assistant director Harald Buggenig discusses his role in the making of The Grand Duel and reflects at length about the casting of the picture, including some of the smaller roles. Buggenig speaks in Italian; optional English subtitles are provided.

- ‘Saxon City Showdown’ (15:32)
. Lecturer Austin Fisher, the author of Radical Frontiers in the Spaghetti Western: Politics, Violence and Popular Italian Cinema (2011), reflects on the position of The Grand Duel within the history of the western all’italiana and connects the picture to Van Cleef’s onscreen persona, which he suggests anchors many of these films (both through Van Cleef’s performance/s and roles played by other actors which were clearly modelled on the Colonel Mortimer character in For a Few Dollars More). Fisher offers a cogent and articulate analysis of The Grand Duel.

- ‘Two Different Duels’ (15:38)
. This featurette focuses on the differences between the cut of the film presented on Arrow’s Blu-ray and the longer cut of the film released in Germany. This is achieved by a side-by-side onscreen comparison of the scenes that are differently edited in the German cut, accompanied by onscreen text explaining the differences. Scenes unique to the German cut are presented within this featurette in standard definition as they were not included in the film elements Arrow were given access to when preparing the HD master for this release. Arrow have included similar featurettes on their recent Jose Ramon Larraz releases and this is equally well-assembled and most welcome.

- ‘Game Over’ (9:12)
. This is an odd one: a strange, enigmatic short science fiction film from 1984 which stars Marc Mazza. It’s an effective, well-shot picture with a haunting synth score.

- ‘Marc Mazza: Who Was the Rider on the Rain?’ (12:32)
. Mike Malloy narrates a video essay about the actor Marc Mazza, who plays Eli Saxon. Malloy reflects on Mazza’s career as a bit part actor who was near-ubiquitous in 1970s Eurocrime pictures and who would crop up in the most unusual places.

- Trailers
: International Trailer (2:56); Italian Trailer (2:56).

- Galleries
: Stills, Posters and Press (3:00); Lobby Cards (5:40); Super 8mm, Home Video and Soundtrack Sleeves (2:40).

Overall

The Grand Duel is fundamentally a very good western all’italiana, though like many examples of the form made at this stage in the cycle’s lifespan, many of its best ideas are cribbed and composited from pictures made a year or two previously. Nevertheless, though he’s playing the same character as he essayed in numerous westerns all’italiana previously, Van Cleef brings his usual magnetic screen persona to the role of Clayton. It’s not as rich a character as, say, Corbett in Sollima’s The Big Gundown, but nevertheless it’s a character that has some depth and Colonel Mortimer-esque ambiguity. As with other Italian Westerns of the 1970s, The Grand Duel tries to expand the palette of the genre by incorporating some acrobatics (by Dentice) and bawdy humour – though, in truth, the provincial nature of the Italian Western meant that the films had always had a strong vein of Donald McGill-esque comedy within them (for example, Manco’s exchange with the hotel owner’s saucy wife, played memorably by Mara Krupp, in For a Few Dollars More). The Grand Duel also features some exquisitely-staged action and some superb photography, from a cinematographer more frequently associated with films set in urban environments. (In fact, the photography in this picture is arguably on a par with Massimo Dallamano’s work on A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More.)

Arrow’s Blu-ray release of The Grand Duel contains an outstanding presentation of the main feature and is supported by an equally impressive array of contextual material. The interviews with various participants in the production of the picture are complemented by the interview with Austin Fisher, who helps to give the film a sense of context. The short science fiction film ‘Game Over’ is an odd inclusion but a fascinating one nonetheless. Although The Grand Duel may not be one of the best westerns all’italiana, it’s a strong example from late in the cycle, and for fans of Spaghetti Westerns Arrow’s Blu-ray release of this film will most likely be one of the best releases of the year.

References:
Cox, Alex, 2010: 10,000 Ways to Die: A Director’s Take on the Spaghetti Western. Manchester: Kamera

Curti, Roberto, 2016: Tonino Valerii: The Films. London: McFarland & Company

Fridlund, Bert, 2006: The Spaghetti Western: A Thematic Analysis. London: McFarland & Company


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