I was a fencing fiend at the time, and all my fencing nerd buddies agreed that it was THE greatest fencing scene ever filmed. Better even than the Basil Rathbone/Errol Flynn scenes in Captain Blood. The most perfect form, the best staging, the best flourishes and timing and precisely the right amount of improbable dash.
And, if you know about period fencing schools, it's a treat, because as they are discussing their technique, "You are using Bonnetti's defence against me..." "I find that Thibault cancels out Capo Ferro"...they are actually doing the things they're talking about.
And here it is.
"There's something I ought to tell you..."
I used to fight a guy who would switch hands and it was indeed incredibly difficult to come back from it, since, unlike the guys in the movie, he was never polite enough to warn me when he was going to do it. The jabs were just suddenly coming from a different direction and the microsecond it took you to switch to defending on that side was almost always enough for him to get a touch in. But then, he would also sometimes parry with his feet, which also drove me nuts.
"Rocco Bonetti opened the first School of Rapier Fence, or Colledge, at Blackfriars in London in 1576. He prefered to deflect jabs and wait for mistakes to be made rather than rush into attack. Ridolfo Capo Ferro taught a linear style of Fence, saying "The cut has little place in rapier play". He published his work Gran Simulacro dell' Arte e dell' uso della Scherma in 1610. Girard Thibault taught the Spanish Style of Fence in which parrying maneuvers ruined jabbing attacks. He published his book Academie de l'Espee in 1630. Camillo Agrippa was regarded as the man who defined the rapier as a thrusting weapon as well as one to be used for cutting. He published his book Trattato di Scienza d'Arme in 1568."