Film Review: The Grand Duel (1972)

Also known as: Il Grande duello (Italy), Storm Rider, The Big Showdown
Release Date: December 29th, 1972 (West Germany)
Directed by: Giancarlo Santi
Written by: Ernesto Gastaldi
Music by: Sergio Bardotti, Luis Bacalov
Cast: Lee Van Cleef, Alberto Dentice, Marc Mazza, Horst Frank, Klaus Grünberg, Antony Vernon, Dominique Darel

Mount Street Film, Corona Filmproduktion, Terra-Filmkunst, Société Nouvelle de Cinématographie (SNC), Titanus Distribuzione, Cinema Shares International Distribution, 98 Minutes


The Grand Duel is a pretty fun and extraordinarily bad ass picture.

It stars Lee Van Cleef as Sheriff Clayton, who is trying to clear the name of a man wanted for the murder of a patriarch of a corrupt political crime family. He has stood up for what is right and has thus lost his sheriff’s star before the start of the film. Regardless, he is still on a quest for justice and to ensure that an innocent man isn’t executed.

The innocent man is played by Alberto Dentice (credited as Peter O’Brien in this film). He was great in this movie and it is unfortunate that this is the only film he has ever been in. He was energetic, entertaining and lovable as the character of prison escapee on-the-run Philipp Wermeer.

The gang that the two heroes have to bring down are quite sinister and each character within the family is pretty unique and memorable. It sets up a really awesome gunfight at the end of the film, hence the film’s title, The Grand Duel.

The film also features probably the most famous spaghetti western theme song not orchestrated by the great Ennio Morricone. It went on to be used in the more famous Kill Bill films by Quentin Tarantino. The score of The Grand Duel was done by Luis Bacalov who has also done the music for spaghetti westerns Django and A Bullet For the General.

The overall story in this movie is really engaging and it moves at a good pace. There are a lot of characters wedged into the film but it doesn’t feel overstuffed. There are several flashback scenes done in high contrast black and white and they are alluringly shot.

This isn’t the best Lee Van Cleef spaghetti western but it is certainly in the upper echelon.

Rating: 8/10