If someone told you that they had an idea for a movie where a trucker in a rusty old Peterbilt tanker truck chases down a guy in a Plymouth Valiant for 90 minutes straight, they’d probably laugh at you, but somehow Steven Spielberg did just that and made it work in his 1971 film Duel. If you haven’t seen the movie, (what the hell is wrong with you?), then please do it, but if you want to learn more about it, here’s a great write-up that might be of interest.
A Californian motorist (Dennis Weaver) becomes the target of a monstrous and anonymous truck, in Steven Spielberg’s 1971 made-for-television film Duel – adapted by Richard Matheson from his own short story. It is an interesting step in Spielberg’s career. While his feature film debut was The Sugarland Express in 1974, Duel was so popular and well-reviewed on its initial ABC broadcast that Universal Pictures elected to distribute the film internationally through cinemas rather than television. Certainly, it more than stands up to the quality expected of a feature film: sparsely populated, stripped down to its most essential components, and edited and paced in a non-stop, high-tension fashion. As an example of the director’s early work, it clearly points to a hugely successful future career. At the time of directing Duel, Spielberg had assembled a reasonable resume of television episodes, including those in Night Gallery, Marcus Welby MD, and Colombo. Duel presented an early chance to demonstrate his potential at directing feature films, and he clearly grabbed the opportunity with both hands… read more >