In an otherwise definitive round up of non-Errol swashbucklers, I am surprised no-one has mentioned the ‘The Duellists’ (1977), which was winner of The Cannes Festival Best Film Debut. It starred Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel and was the first movie directed by Ridley Scott.
‘The Duellists’ is notable for containing the longest duel in film history. Only Errol wouldn’t have been Flynned alive in this picture. The story is based on a Joseph Conrad novella, The Duel, which in turn was based on an incident reported in a French newspaper in the 19th century.
It concerns two officers in Napoleon’s Hussars, Lt. Armand D’Hubert (Carradine)and Lt. Gabriel Feraud (Keitel), who first meet in 1800 and fight an inconclusive duel with rapiers. Their rivalry intensifies as they find themselves on opposing political and romantic sides, and whenever they chance to meet they take up their duel where they left off. This continues for fifteen years, until Carradine finally decides to spare Keitel’s life.
Errol would have loved the film poster’s stand first: ‘Fencing is a science…loving is a passion….duelling is an obsession.’
Below, Carradine and Keitel (it’s only just beginning…)