The Grand Duel (1972)

It could be said that The Grand Dual is merely a vehicle for its lead star, and whoever said it wouldn’t necessarily be wrong; but while this film doesn’t feature a lot of originality, it’s also true that Italian cinema was based on repeating itself, and the film definitely succeeds in providing an enjoyable slice of western action. The script was penned by Giallo supremo Ernesto Gastaldi (The Strange Vice of Mrs Wardh, The Case of the Bloody Iris), and that’s not surprising as there are shades of Giallo throughout, and the film works both as both as a violent action flick and an intriguing mystery film. The plot focuses on Sheriff Clayton as he becomes involved in the murder of a man so-called ‘The Patriarch’ through his association with the sly Philipp Wermeer. The film follows the pair as they make their way through bandits and bounty hunters and eventually end up in Saxon town, where the sons of the Patriarch live. They’ve fingered Wermeer as the murderer of their father, and naturally want him hanged; but there’s a twist to the identity of the murderer.

Lee Van Cleef made his name with Sergio Leone and the masterpiece westerns ‘For a Few Dollars More’ and, of course, ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’. This film is nowhere near the quality of those two, but Van Cleef does well in his ‘man in black role’, which is a variation on the common western ‘loner’ theme, which was made famous by the likes of Clint Eastwood and Django. Van Cleef’s presence is felt throughout, and he continually makes every scene his own. As you might expect, the rest of the cast don’t live up to the central star; but even so, The Grand Dual features a good ensemble cast, and Peter O’Brien does especially well in his central role. The film features a lot of shootouts and chases on horseback, which are always good to see; but at times, The Grand Dual puts too much focus on entertainment value and this can mean that the plot suffers. Even so, the story plays out well; and the final twist is a real standout, as even though it’s pretty obvious throughout