The Long Duel (1967)

Yul Brynner stars alongside Trevor Howard in Ken Annakin's classic colonial era adventure film. Divisa ESP R2 DVD.

The Film

High in the mountainous regions of northern British Colonial India, Sultan (Yul Brynner) returns to his home to find that his tribe has been arrested by the British police for being outlaws. He rides to the British camp where Superintendant Stafford (Harry Andrews) is ordering them to be locked up before being transfered to an enclosed reservation. Sultan is captured, but teaming up with a local criminal Gungaram (Andrew Keir), he escapes and sets out to make life difficult for the British. In desperation, an expert on the hill-tribes, Young (Trevor Howard), is brought in with his own force to find and capture Sultan, but Young's respect for his opponent and the Indian natives brings him into conflict with his bosses who just want to see Sultan dead.

Co-scripted by Peter Yeldham (Ten Little Indians (1965)), The Long Duel is a classic adventure tale of a rebel and his men facing off against authority figures, some of whom hate him for who he is, others symphasise and perhaps even tacitly support him - it could quite easily be transplanted into any time or setting. Despite this generic storyline however, the British colonial atmosphere is well realised and the film is generally entertaining with good pacing, some effective characterisation and a couple of big gun battles (that never come off as gratuitous), building to an effective climax. Only one aspect seems to be a misfire, the bizarre attempt to add a romance between Young and Stafford's daughter - although this might have worked better were it not for the thirty-year age gap between the cast actors.

Experienced adventure director Ken Annakin (Sword and the Rose (1953)) does a generally strong job - the Spanish locations are well chosen and really do look like the southern Himalayan region and there is some good attention to detail in the costumes and sets. Like many of the 60s epics however, The Long Duel doers suffer from unnecessary use of rear-projection in dialogue scenes as well as day-for-night photography and obvious cuts between exteriors and sets - although these are less offensive than in some other films (cf. Taras Bulba (1962)) - and Annakin seems content to shoot the film in a rather bland, straight-forward manner with little directoral flair. The soundtrack was provided by John Scott (The Shooting Party (1985)) and is a well suited orchestral track, with an appropriate blend of sitar music for the setting - only the song used over the end titles seems rather out of place.

Yul Brynner seemed to be the man of choice for playing lead characters of any nationality, from Native American in Kings of the Sun (1963) to German officer in Morituri (1965) and his mysterious appearance always seemed to suit the part. Here he plays the lead role as an Indian tribesman with typically convincing aplomb. He is joined by an archetypal British cast, including the always superb Trevor Howard as the heroic Young and Harry Andrews (Theater of Blood (1973)) who excels as the arrogant British officer. Scottish born Hammer regular, Andrew Keir (Quatermass and the Pit (1967)) makes a rather unexpected appearance as another tribesman but certainly looks the part (interestingly he would play a similar role in the later Lion of the Desert (1981)).

Despite the rather generic script, The Long Duel is well paced and benefits from solid direction and an effective use of Spanish locations along with some fine acting throughout. An enjoyable film and one for all classic adventure movie fans.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? Yul Brynner - a widely travelled Russian actor who starred in classic Western The Magnificent Seven (1960)
Trevor Howard - veteran British actor, best known for playing the romantic lead in Brief Encounter (1945)
Directed by anyone interesting? Ken Annakin - a British director who worked on a number of epic films, from Disney's The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men (1952) to The Longest Day (1962) and Battle of the Bulge (1965).
Any gore or violence ? Lots of death in the gun battles, but very little blood.
Any sex or nudity? None
Who is it for? One for all classic adventure movie fans.

Visuals Original Aspect Ratio - 2.35:1. Anamorphically Enhanced. Colour.
Picture quality is strong with good colours and detail.
Audio English mono - sounds fine.
Spanish mono - well dubbed, sounds fine (a couple of scenes were not dubbed into Spanish and are presented here in English with subtitles).
Subtitles Spanish infill for the scenes in English on the Spanish audio track.
Extras This disc includes:
  • On-screen text bios and credits - Spanish only.
  • Gallery - a few still, promotional images from the film.
Availability Spanish DVD release - title La Leyenda de un Valiente.
Region Region 2 (UK, Europe) - PAL
Other regions? Available on DVD in Germany as 'Der Kampf' - although not with English options. Available in the UK from Strawberry Media, reported as being pan-and-scan.
Cuts? Believed to be fully uncut. Print used is English language.



All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 26th December 2010.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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