Home Culture The Last Duel: Cinema’s 11 best showdowns

The Last Duel: Cinema’s 11 best showdowns

The Last Duel: Cinema’s 11 best showdowns


The actors

Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) vs Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro) in Heat (1995)

Winner: It’s a draw, for now

Heat boasts one of the loudest, bloodiest shoot-outs ever staged, but the film’s highpoint is a short scene in which two men have a tete-a-tete in a restaurant. According to Michael Mann, the writer-director, the sequence is based on an actual meeting between the real police detective and bank robber who inspired the characters. Whatever its origins, though, what mattered to audiences was getting to see two New York acting legends and old friends, Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro, playing opposite each other at long last. (They were both in The Godfather Part II, but never in the same scene.) If different actors had starred as Vincent Hanna and Neil McCauley, the dialogue wouldn’t have had much of a charge, but sometimes a showdown is less about the characters than what the actors bring to them. On a slightly less Oscar-worthy note, this rule holds true for the tussle between Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel in Fast & Furious 5.

Love film and TV? Join BBC Culture Film and TV Club on Facebook, a community for cinephiles all over the world.

If you would like to comment on this story or anything else you have seen on BBC Culture, head over to our Facebook page or message us on Twitter.

And if you liked this story, sign up for the weekly bbc.com features newsletter, called The Essential List. A handpicked selection of stories from BBC Future, Culture, Worklife and Travel, delivered to your inbox every Friday.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here