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The Duellists

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United Kingdom · 1977
Rated PG · 1h 40m
Director Ridley Scott
Starring Keith Carradine, Harvey Keitel, Albert Finney, Edward Fox
Genre Drama, War

In 1800, as Napoleon Bonaparte rises to power in France, a rivalry erupts between Armand and Gabriel, two lieutenants in the French Army, over an insult. For over a decade, they engage in a series of duels amidst larger conflicts, including the failed French invasion of Russia in 1812, and major shifts in European society.

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Time Out by

Scott, a name in TV commercials making his first feature, brings little overall thrust, working instead in short bursts.


Chicago Reader by Dave Kehr

The film comes closer to working than it has any right to, given the curious casting (Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel) and director Ridley Scott's inability to sustain dramatic tension or build a coherent scene.


The A.V. Club by Noel Murray

In spite of the material's thinness, and even though Carradine and Keitel look ridiculous sporting fancy duds while speaking bodice-ripper dialogue in flat American accents, The Duellists endures as a diverting action potboiler.


The New York Times by Vincent Canby

A film that satisfies not because it sweeps us off our feet, knocks us into the aisles, provides us with visions of infinity or definitions of God, but because it is precise, intelligent, civilized, and because it never for a moment mistakes its narrative purpose.

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