The Grand Duel (1972)

grand duel poster 1972 movie lee van cleef
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Spaghetti westerns always seem to look great, Lee Van Cleef

Not my favorite story

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Grand Duel

Studio:  Mount Street Film

Genre(s):  Western

Release Date(s): December 29, 1972 (Germany)

MPAA Rating:  R

grand-duel-1972-lee-van-cleef-sheriff-clayton-sleeping

I’m trying to sleep…do you want to test me?

Sheriff Clayton (Lee Van Cleef) is on the hunt for a man named Phillip Wermeer (Alberto Dentice) accused of killing a high society underboss named Saxon who was behind the murder of Wermeer’s father.  Clayton believes that Wermeer was set up and has vowed to bring in Wermeer so the truth can be revealed.  Unfortunately, Saxon’s son David Saxon (Horst Frank) wants Wermeer dead and will stop at nothing to have it happen.

Directed by Giancarlo Santi, The Grand Duel is a spaghetti western along the lines of the westerns of Sergio Leone whom Santi collaborated with on movies like The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly and Once Upon a Time in the WestThe Grand Duel goes by many names including its original Italian named Il Grande duello, Storm Rider, and The Big Showdown.  It is sometimes found packaged with Keoma.

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Well…this is a character that you don’t see in every western…

I’m a big fan of the spaghetti western…which is ironic since I’m not really a fan of westerns.  I like how westerns look and some of the themes, but often find them a bit slow and tedious.  Unlike regular westerns, spaghetti westerns are generally edgier, bloodier, and more epic than some of the standard westerns…and that has an appeal.  The Grand Duel is no different in that sense.

I found the plot of The Grand Duel a bit dull.  It was a strange attempt at a bit of mystery that didn’t seem very mysterious.  Lee Van Cleef’s character steals the show, and the story surrounding him is much more compelling than the other characters.  While he’s fun, the story is slow.

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So, I might or might not have killed an underworld boss…is that a problem?

Lee Van Cleef really is the star of the movie.  The rest of the supporting cast works, and the relationship in the film between Van Cleef and Alberto Dentice is an interesting dynamic.  The story doesn’t leave enough room to develop the characters to my liking, but Van Cleef does hold it together enough as the lead (though I still see him more as the bad guy from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly).

The movie looks fantastic.  I love the grand nature of spaghetti westerns and the vastness of the scenes.  This is why I watch this style of western.  It is just impressive to see the land…untouched and undeveloped and the Italian films seem to capture it so much better than the American films.  I will generally be bias to the spaghetti western so I can’t say that I see these Italian films as objectively in their visuals.

The Grand Duel isn’t my favorite spaghetti western but it isn’t a bad one.  If you worked your way through most of Sergio Leone’s films, move on to movies like The Grand Duel.  You can see Leone’s influence and how these movies had effects on movies today.  I recommend seeking this out with Keoma for a cheaper price and a great pairing.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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