Blu-Ray Review: The Grand Duel

In the mid-1960s, a very strange phenomenon occurred in the American-centric world of Westerns. Whilst there was already a small industry of comedy variants being made in Europe, it wasn’t until that decade that a proliferation of Italian finance, directors and producers created the stylised sub-genre of the Spaghetti Western. The unrivalled master of these multi-lingual marvels was Sergio Leone. Giancarlo Santi worked as his assistant on The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Once Upon a Time in the West. In 1972 he directed The Grand Duel.

On the run from a prison for the murder of the patriarch of Saxon city, Philip Wermeer (Alberto Dentice) is a wanted man with a price on his head. When he’s finally cornered it looks like the game is up. However, he’s rescued by a mysterious sheriff (Lee Van Cleef) who is convinced of his innocence. Through a number of skirmishes and escapades, the pair make their ways towards an eventual showdown with David (Horst Frank) and Adam Saxton (Klaus Grünberg).

At times feeling like an opera, The Grand Duel is a Western which harks back to the greats of the proceeding two decades. It’s one of Lee Van Cleef’s last great films and a testament to his lasting popularity and charisma. The story itself is a bit hit and miss but there’s an energy which keeps events going at a lively pace. In the end, The Grand Duel is one big set-up for a final showdown, and it doesn’t disappoint.


  • New 2K restoration from the original 35mm camera negative
  • High Definition Blu-ray™ (1080p) presentation
  • Uncompressed mono 1.0 LPCM audio
  • Original English and Italian soundtracks, titles and credits
  • Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
  • New audio commentary by film critic, historian and theorist Stephen Prince
  • An Unconventional Western, a newly filmed interview with director Giancarlo Santi
  • The Last of the Great Westerns, a newly filmed interview with screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi
  • Cowboy by Chance, an interview with the actor Alberto Dentice AKA Peter O’Brien
  • Out of the Box, a newly filmed interview with producer Ettore Rosboch
  • The Day of the Big Showdown, a newly filmed interview with assistant director Harald Buggenig
  • Saxon City Showdown, a newly filmed video appreciation by the academic Austin Fisher
  • Original Italian and international theatrical trailers
  • Extensive image gallery featuring stills, posters, lobby cards and home video sleeves, drawn from the Mike Siegel Archive and other collections
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Matt Griffin

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Kevin Grant and original reviews

The Grand Duel is released on Blu-ray by Arrow Video on 6 May.

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