(Keith Carradine, Harvey Keitel / DVD / Not Rated / (1977) 2002 / Paramount)
Overview:’The Duellists’ is the first film by director Ridley Scott but barely got released in this country in the mid-1970s. Brooklynite Harvey Keitel and Westerner Keith Carradine play a pair of officers in Napoleon's army, despite their rather noticeable accents ! The plot centers on Carradine insulting Keitel and Keitel demanding vengeance. But every time they get into the middle of one of their duels, war breaks out or something else happens to interrupt !
DVD Verdict:After shooting artsy TV advertisements, Ridley Scott turned his considerable talents to actual motion pictures. His first attempt is an adaptation of Joseph Conrad's novella 'The Point Of Honor' - a tale of fixation and obsession. The (American) accents of Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel, along with Stacey Keach's third-person narration, might not be to everybody's liking, but that would do a disservice to both Carradine (dignity) and Keitel (brooding passion/honor) who put their all into it. Anyway, after a while the accents become completely irrelevant anyway. Carradine did so again three years later in 'The Long Riders.' Nevertheless - and here is the real success of the film - Scott's attention to even the tiniest peripheral or background detail adds a visually-arresting 'still-life' quality to the quite stunning scenery and locations. Each still of the film could, if on canvas, fetch a few hundred-thou at Sotheby's/Christie's. For with each viewing comes the discovery of yet more minutiae and period detail. Utterly rewardingly exquisite! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Commentary by Director Ridley Scott;
Commentary and Isolated score by Howard Blake;
Duelling Directors: Ridley Scott and Kevin Reynolds Featurette;
"Boy and Bicycle" - Ridley Scott's first short film;