Monday, April 8, 2013

THE GRAND DUEL

Thanks to Quentin Tarantino's DJANGO UNCHAINED, interest in the Spaghetti Western genre is on the rise, and cult video label Blue Underground has responded to the demand with this new DVD edition of  1972's THE GRAND DUEL, starring genre icon Lee Van Cleef

THE GRAND DUEL is a fairly straight-forward revenge tale, with EuroWestern staple Van Cleef (FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE, SABATA) portraying a black-clad former lawman helping an unjustly accused fugitive (Alberto Dentice) exact justice from the wealthy family that framed him for the murder of their Patriarch.

Competently directed by Giancarlo Santi, who had worked as a second unit director for Sergio Leone on THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY and ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, from a screenplay by Ernesto Gastaldi, DUEL is a briskly-paced, traditional Euro-Western with a fair amount of well-executed gunplay and some nicely scenic vistas, dramatically anchored by a typically professional performance by the always reliable Van Cleef. The film also benefits from a memorable musical score by Luis Bacalov and Sergio Bardotti.

 Blue Underground's new DVD of THE GRAND DUEL sports a very nice 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer from a nearly flawless print. The English-dub audio track is a serviceable Dolby digital Mono. Extras include an informative and entertaining audio commentary by film historians C. Courtney Joyner and Henry Parke, the original theatrical trailer, and a selection of trailers for other Spaghetti Western titles offered by Blue Underground (including A BULLET FOR THE GENERAL, DJANGO, COMPANEROS and TEXAS ADIOS, among others).

I should note that THE GRAND DUEL was also recently released as part of a Blu-ray double feature from Mill Creek Entertainment. That budget-priced disc sported a very satisfying high-def transfer, but included no bonus material whatsoever (unless you count its companion feature, KEOMA as a bonus). The print on Blue Underground's standard-definition DVD is virtually identical to that on the Mill Creek disc, although it does lack the "pop" and detail of high-definition video.

It's difficult to recommend the Blue Underground DVD of THE GRAND DUEL over Mill Creek's less expensive, HD Blu-ray edition, but it does have the inclusion of the excellent Joyner/Parke commentary in its favor. True genre aficionados may opt to pick up both.

BUY:  Grand Duel