Possibly the most celebrated film of the 1970s -- at least among film snob circles -- Robert Altman's sprawling case study of five days in the Tennessee city is self-absorbed, overwrought, and dismissive. Nor is it particularly well-made, with poor sound (even after being remastered for its DVD release) and washed-out photography, not to mention a running time (2:40) that's at least an hour too long.
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To be fair, The Duellists (based on Conrad's The Duel) is a type of movie made often in the 1970s -- a low-tech but visually authentic historical drama. As with '70s westerns, the point was to make a new kind of period drama emphasizing cinematic realism at the expense of entertainment values (instead of the other way around). The film is based on a Joseph Conrad story about a quarrel between two soldiers in Napoleon's army which turns into an obsessive folie a deux. Kind of a Gallic High Noon, but not as entertaining as High Noon.
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