The Grand Duel (1972)
Former sheriff turned bounty hunter Clayton (Lee Van Cleef - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly) is on the trail of Philipp Wermeer (Alberto Dentice) who is wanted for the murder of the powerful "The Patriarch". But Clayton is not convinced of Wermeer's guilt which is why he lost his position as sheriff. After finding Wermeer they must trust each other as they have to deal with the other bounty hunters who are on his trail in order to get to Jefferson so that they can confront the Saxon brothers who placed the bounty of Wermeer's head and prove his innocence.
First things first for those who know their westerns will know that Quentin Tarantino used the theme music from "The Grand Duel" in "Kill Bill Vol. 1.". And secondly for those who know their westerns will also spot the familiarity of the storyline as the bounty hunter and the wanted man forming an uneasy alliance had been done before director Santi gave us "The Grand Duel". But the familiarity of the theme music and the story line is not an issue as "The Grand Duel" is a grade-A Spaghetti Western.
Now I am a fan of westerns and love Spaghetti westerns but I would be lying if I said I was an expert on these Italian westerns. But what I can say is that "The Grand Duel" works right from the word go with a wonderful opening scene which sees Clayton step of a stage coach and hang his coat and bag on a man's gun, coolly showing that he is not intimidated by guns including those pointed at him from various vantage points. It is one of the coolest scenes going and it works because of the theme music and the ultra cool Lee Van Cleef.
What follows on from there is simple as we watch that unlikely alliance of between Clayton and Wermeer as they travel across country and deal with bounty hunters. That means we have plenty of cool action, cool music and some classic Spaghetti western styling. There is even humour thrown in there as well with what are some over the top stunts but strangely enjoyable for being so and yes that includes a scene which sees Clayton catch a bullet between his teeth, yes you did read that right.
Now for those who are aficionado's of the Spaghetti western genre will be able to tell you much more about "The Grand Duel" from the writers to the camera man but whilst all of these people are significant as to why "The Grand Duel" works it does boil down to one man who for me makes it tick. That man is Lee Van Cleef who doesn't really do anything he doesn't do in any other western, he squints, he acts cool and is fearless but he is so good at doing it that you can happily sit and watch him do the same thing again and again.
What this all boils down to is that "The Grant Duel" is a great Spaghetti western which works a familiar theme but does it well enough to provide plenty of entertainment especially with Lee Van Cleef in the central role.
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