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  • Warning: Spoilers
    Sorry, don't have time or inclination to read all 121 other comments on 'Duel' - wish I had, but there you are. Therefore I apologise if I'm saying what has been said before. However, in looking through the first couple of pages of comments on this movie (the only movie I ever feel compelled to write about) I notice that everyone seems to deal with it as a basic 'truck-(or truck driver)-chases-man' thriller. Now, I'm told Mr Spielberg is supposed to have pooh-poohed any 'psychological' reading of this film, but let's imagine for a moment that he's playing a game with us there. What if he really did mean to bury the clues. It's been a while since I saw it (lucky for you, or I'd remember more details), but some of the salient points stay with me always. Mr Mann! Just a coincidence? Of course not. He's you and me, buddy. An average, henpecked, downtrodden guy in a dead-end job, driving the most average car imaginable, too cowed by his boss to stay home for his kid's birthday, yelling in frustrated agreement with the rednecked radio announcer rather than getting out of his car and telling the world where to get off. Because he can't - or won't. (Well, if he did that would be the end of our movie, wouldn't it?) Now, admit it or not, at some time we all have a monster in our lives, somewhere. Something that scares the Hell out of us, and no matter how hard we try to ignore it, or how fast we run, it's always there, waiting around the next corner. For Mann, the truck is this fear. He can't shake it, and he never will - not until he finally turns and faces it. That's why we don't see the driver (and don't need to), that's why the truck has no stand-out markings, that's why it seems to possess impossible power. That's also why it seems to have a life of its own, constantly breathing, wheezing, snorting, almost pawing at the ground when it finds him once more - even to the final moments when it 'dies' like a wounded dinosaur, flipping end-over-end, roaring and bellowing into the canyon, its 'tail' flipping and thrashing above it, its 'blood' finally dripping onto the steering wheel as it breathes its last, and silence finally falls. And go back a few moments: exactly how does Mann dispose of this monster? By taking his nicely monogrammed briefcase (note the CU of his initials in this shot - coincidence?) and wedging it against his boring little Dodge's accelerator pedal, before leaping clear and sending his entire world and identity into Hell. That's why we leave him sitting on the cliff-top in the setting sun. There's no need to see what happens next. It doesn't matter. He's done what he needed to do - he's now free to walk away and start a new life if he wishes, or go home to his family. Whatever. Mann is now in charge of his own destiny. Whenever I watch this movie (not so often these days) I find myself seeing all the myriad other clues that fit the jigsaw so neatly that it's hard to believe it's mere chance. Go take another look - especially if you've hated the damn thing until now. Even if I'm wrong, it makes a fascinating exercise.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    We all get stuck behind them sometimes: The huge trucks blocking your lane, blowing diesel fumes and spraying rocks from the ground all over your windshield. You try to pass them but sometimes it's just no use--they won't move out of the way, no matter how hard you try to mentally will them to do so.

    Steven Spielberg's "Duel" is just a simple movie about a traveling everyman who tries to pass a huge flammable truck on a state highway, and is then strangely stalked by this angered truck driver who seems to want him dead. The everyman is played by Dennis Weaver, and his character's name in the film is David Mann--a businessman driving across California for a business meeting who is desperately late and struggling to get around an obnoxious eighteen-wheeler blocking the highway. After he passes the trucker, it seems to trigger a sort of strange road rage game between the two men.

    At first everything seems to be quite normal, but then the truck swerves around David's car and slows down its speed again, keeping David behind schedule and driving behind a bunch of nasty fumes. Frustrated with the driver's arrogance, David decides to swerve around the truck again, and he soon finds himself on his way down the road, far away from the truck driver.

    But his escape is not quite so simple.

    The key to "Duel" is that we never see the truck driver, just like we never saw the shark from "JAWS" in its entirety. The truck driver haunting Mann seems to be a simple man who just suddenly goes nuts. Sometimes the best villains are those given no motivational background--Michael Myers from "Halloween" was described as "evil" by his own doctor, apparently killing for no reason whatsoever, and the shark from "JAWS" seemed to be the materialization of some sort of demon from hell. Their intentions are not clear--and that makes the film carry an intriguing mystery about it that makes it all the more watchable on a repetitive basis.

    I was never a very big fan of "The Hitcher," which ripped off "Duel" quite a bit. Both films essentially deal with supernatural, untouchable villains shrouded by a layer of mystery. We never found out very much about Rutger Hauer's character in "The Hitcher," or why he was doing what he was doing, but by introducing him to the audience it made us want to know more--and the film took the easy way out by just providing us with nothing whatsoever. Even after promising us that it would through the very mouth of Hauer's character. That's bad filmmaking.

    Spielberg does something different: He avoids the truck driver altogether. Apart from seeing his legs and a brief glimpse of his silhouette, the truck driver is completely shrouded by a dark cloud of mystery and intrigue. Had he been shown rising out of the truck disaster at the end of the film, burning alive like The Terminator, then the effect would be somewhat laughable. Spielberg does something much greater and more fantastic--this could, in technical terms, be called his most elaborately staged and perfectly executed film, even if it isn't the best on an overall basis.

    There's a great scene in "Duel" where Mann stops at a roadside diner and tries to analyze his situation. At that point in time anyone could be the villain--the guy eating a sandwich, the guy with cowboy boots having a soda, or even the woman standing by the exit. But we never know, and either does Mann, and it helps this film quite a bit. But what Spielberg does that is pure genius is showing us Mann's thoughts through voice-over narrative in a way it has never really been done before. We hear Mann talking to himself, but not in an aware way. It is as if we pick up his mental decisions and thoughts via the film--and it works magnificently.

    You've probably seen "Speed" by now, and so you know its breakneck speed and thrills. Well, take "Speed," throw in a homicidal truck driver, and set it in the early 70s, and you've got yourself a clear idea of what "Duel" feels like while you're watching it. It's one of those give-me-a-moment-to-catch-my-breath films--intriguing and fast-paced from start to finish.

    Indeed, "Duel" is an early sign of Spielberg before he went commercial--not that his films aren't good anymore, but they all seem to contain typical Spielberg trademarks. Here, Spielberg shows that he can be a Hitchcockian director--even "JAWS" was more mainstream-oriented than this film.

    Originally filmed for ABC in 1971 and later re-released overseas with nineteen minutes of extended footage, "Duel" is indeed a milestone movie--a counter to the ancient mythology that TV movies aren't any good. They can be. Most of the time they just don't want to be. But thanks to an intriguing idea and a terrific young director behind the project, "Duel" stands as one of the most remarkable films of all time, a sign of great things to come in the career of an aspiring newbie director with not a single true project under his belt. This is Spielberg's breakthrough. He has surpassed it with projects such as "JAWS," the "Indiana Jones" trilogy and "Schindler's List," but to say this is one of his most well made and unconventional films is a gross understatement.

    5/5.
  • DUEL is Spielberg's JAWS of the highway, a raucous nascar race of a film that was "made for TV". Usually, the phrase made-for-TV makes me ill, but Universal TV executives had no clue what they had here. It was so good, the film got its fitting recognition in Europe, where it was released theatrically. Spielberg's own idol, director David Lean, praised the film's suspense and excitement. A testimonial from Sir David Lean is enough to get any career going. DUEL begins from the point of view of a driver, and never lets up. The fear Dennis Weaver encounters consists not only of the monster truck itself, which is on an unexpected death chase, but of the inability to see who (or what) is behind the wheel.

    It seemed like a great episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE, and Rod Serling would've been proud. Speed kills and you may never pass a slow truck on the highway again after seeing this. There is no character development, no humor, no identifiable characters, but in this case, who cares? It is only 90 minutes long and Spielberg's goal is to make you tired. To make you experience what this everyday salesman is going through for NO apparent reason. Besides a shark in the ocean, I really can't think of another more frightful situation to be in.

    The truck itself is sinister looking, almost resembling one from RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. The only remnant of a human being in the truck is an arm. The arm waves much like the hitch-hiker in the famous TWILIGHT ZONE episode. Weaver is cheesy and silly looking in his Peter Fonda-esque shades, but it is a sign of the times. You don't necessarily find yourself rooting for him to escape alive. Basically, you are held prisoner by Spielberg's web of suspense, and stay wide-eyed the entire time. Great fun to watch on big or small screen.

    RATING: 8 of 10
  • Leave it to prosemaster extraordinaire, Richard Matheson (a favorite of mine and the man Stephen King acknowledges as being his biggest influence), to come up a premise so simple yet so believable and terrifying that the viewer will never look at an eighteen-wheeler the same way ever again...and leave it to cinematic wunderkind, Stephen Spielburg, to do right by Matheson's script and win acclaim in the bargain.

    Though some may argue that "Bullit", "Vanishing Point", or maybe even the original "Gone in 60 Seconds" could be called the ultimate car chase movie, "Duel" deserves this designation better because it does something none of the above films can claim. The story literally starts on the road and ends on the road. No location in the entire film is ever out of sight of the highway and, in spite of the brief conversation with the wife, virtually nothing else happens outside the highway. For David Mann (played adequately enough by Dennis Weaver) and the monster truck he's trying to get away from, the road and everything alongside it is their entire universe. Nothing else of importance exists outside of it.

    Though it's never mentioned in the film, this would seem to take place on the California highways. When I went out there about eight years ago, I went down roads that seemed to be not too dissimiliar to the ones shown here. They seemed to stretch on forever, no vestiges of civilization in sight for miles. Spielburg uses this setting to great advantage. Being in your car in a crowded city intersection is one thing, but on those highways with nothing but your car and a homicidal maniac in a diesel for miles? The isolation factor that cars naturally produce jumps up a thousand percent. The radiator hose problem made me think of many other times that I had similar troubles with cars I've had. Of course, I never had someone trying to kill me at the time, but...

    Anyone looking for drama, character development, or all the other elements that pseudo-critics point out as the mark of cinematic excellence are liable to be disappointed by "Duel". It's what King described in "Danse Macabre" as a Tale of the Hook. It's only purpose is to scare the hell out of you. Damn if it doesn't work. THAT'S the mark of a classic.
  • While traveling through the desert for an appointment with a client, the businessman David Mann (Dennis Weaver) from California passes a slow and old tanker truck. The psychotic truck driver feels offended and chases David along the empty highway trying to kill him.

    In the 70's, in Rio de Janeiro, most of the teenagers like me watched the impressive movie of a new and promising director called Steven Spielberg. On the beach, in school, in bars, everybody in Rio commented the story of a crazy truck driver that chases a common man in his car along the lonely roads through the desert. Thirty-six years later, I have just watched "Duel" on DVD with my son and it is fantastic to see how this movie has not aged. The tense and suspenseful story consists basically of a storyline, without development of characters, one actor, two stunts, lots of action and a magnificent work of direction and edition. One amazing detail is that all the afflictive and credible situation happens on the day light, i.e., Spielberg does not need to use the usual fear of the night to create a stunning tale of horror and fear, showing his talent of genius in his worldwide debut. My vote is eight.

    Title (Brazil): "Encurralado" ("Trapped")
  • Gleefully sadistic little thriller. Though the young Mr. Spielberg's hand is evident in many places (the economic storytelling style, the visual wit), the film's tone probably owes more to screenwriter (and 'Twilight Zone' veteran) Richard Matheson. The story has all the itchy paranoia of Matheson's best work, with Dennis Weaver's fussy little city man confronted by Tex-Mex suspicion at best, and relentless, illogical horror at worst, as he travels from one oasis of civilization to another for an important meeting. 'Duel' is essentially a city-slicker's nightmare, concentrating collective fears of wilderness and the mad souls who choose to dwell there. But at the same time it lightly satirizes those urbanite attitudes, and Weaver's Mann is often made to look laughable, with his silly necktie, and his little Plymouth Valiant, and his prissy, civilized approach to his problem. Spielberg revels in the black comic elements of Matheson's narrative, and the result is the perfect suspense/thriller tone--one never knows whether to laugh or scream. If the story lags a bit towards the end, and if the conclusion is rather a simple one, the film is still a model of economy and tone, and it features one of the most memorable villains in suspense-film history--one that weighs forty tons. 9 out of 10.
  • This film proves that television can produce a quality film. Much like Spielberg's first big theatrical hit, "Jaws", this film deals with a menace, the driver, that is pretty much unseen for most of the film. It also preys upon our fear of being caught in a desperate situation with no one around to help. Also, Dennis Weaver was perfectly cast as the unfortunate motorist that happens to be the prey of a psychotic truck driver. This definitely is a far cry from Weaver's most famous role of Marshall Sam McCloud, who was the typical hero compared to the terrified motorist he plays in this film. Too bad that we here in the United States never got a chance to see this great film in a theater like the rest of the world. This is definitely a classic suspense film.
  • I can recall vividly watching this movie as an ABC movie of the week at the tender age of six.Very few movies at that time in my life had the ability to captivate me.Duel was one of the fortunate few.We have a mild mannered businessman,excellently played by Dennis Weaver,on his way to a very important appointment.Suddenly,there is trouble ahead in the form of a ruthless tanker truck driver.For unexplained reasons,the truck driver singles out David Mann(Weaver)as the recipient of whatever rage and torment possesses him.Along the way,we have an apparently unsympathetic diner crowd,among whom this mad truck driver may have mixed in with while David was freshening up in the diner's restroom.Which one of them is it?Did he ever come in at all?Did he just linger outside,adding to David's torment?Then,there is the lady at the Snakerama,whose reptile displays are leveled when the truck driver realizes that David is trying to notify police in her phone booth.David ends up searching for strength he's not sure he possesses in order to combat this unseen menace.I love the idea of the driver never being seen,as the unseen is often more frightening than what is thrown in our face.This film may have been made for television,but it played like something you would see in a movie theater.I understand that it was in fact,released in theaters in England later on after Spielberg added some more footage.I am envious that they got to see this Hitchcock like thriller on the big screen.I consider it a grand edition to my DVD library.Great stuff.

    2/28/2006 R.I.P. Dennis Weaver (1924-2006)
  • Steven Spielberg's first long feature film (sort of) may only just be a TV-movie, its influence, impact and entertainment value overwhelms the majority of big screen productions. The brilliance lies in the simple plot and the complete lack of background information you're denied. The film is a powerful collaboration between the superb writing skills of Richard Matheson (The Incredible Shrinking Man), the stunningly sublime cinematography by Jack Marta and the over talented vision of Steven Spielberg as a director. Duel easily is one of the ONLY movies ever made that'll keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning till end. What begins as an average day for salesman David Mann quickly turns into a merciless showdown between himself and a seemly driverless truck somewhere in a nearly forsaken countryside. The eerie shots of a giant, boisterous and filthy-looking truck versus the classy red Plymouth Valiant are the most tense road-rage images I ever beheld and they're guaranteed to make your blood pump faster!

    The film is terrifically cut in half when the protagonist stops a roadside restaurant to analyze his uncanny situation. While recovering from the previous assault, Mann notices that the monstrous truck is also parked outside the diner so one of the unfriendly guests present there more than likely is his assaulter. This sequence, brilliantly illustrated by pan camera movements and atmospheric voice over sound, perfectly proves how an amazing director Spielberg is. Especially when you bear in mind he only was 26 at the time Duel was released and he mostly worked with a crew of veteran filmmakers. This simply is one of the most action-filled movies ever made and a timeless classic. THIS is how we like to see Spielberg! Giant monstrosity! Filthy trucks or man-eating sharks…not the over-sentimental and melodramatic crap he's delivering nowadays.
  • From the opening credits, where we see a POV of David Mann's car pulling out of his driveway off to who-knows-where, the viewer knows their in for something special. Indeed, Duel is something special. It's essentially a 90 minute chase with the occasional brief intermissions for scenery change. This could get old really quick, and indeed it does get old . . . but I can't help but watch in amazement and observe how long Spielberg kept me engaged in just two vehicles on open roads.

    And interestingly enough, ten minutes after the film started boring me it recaptured my interest for the breathtaking finale.

    After Duel, the Creeper truck and the semi from JoyRide are pushovers. This is the Freddy Krueger of vehicles, and the truck (not its driver) is treated as the bad guy. I particularly loved when the truck was shot in silhouette through the tunnel - beautiful and haunting composition. Also the shots where the camera pulls around Mann's car and travels parallel up along the truck – simply put, 'awesome cinematography.' The high number of interesting shots (on location, no less) of the truck chasing Mann is what really drives this film forward. It takes a long time for this particular flair and flavor of film to get boring.

    Dennis Weaver plays his part of David extremely well; unfortunately, I didn't much care for the spineless middle-class Joe-shmo character on the page. I think part of my dislike comes from those annoying internal monologues that were totally unnecessary. It's always been a cheap gimmick in my mind, and Weaver truly communicates those emotions without the added soundtrack. Still, despite a character that I did not like, Duel managed to keep me engaged in the story . . . strangely enough.

    Earlier I spoke of brief intermissions from the chase; notice I didn't say the tension is eased up here. Spielberg finds ways to lace these breathers with suspense through the presence of the truck (still, more to do with the truck itself than the driver). And really, it's through these intermissions that we meet other (very colorful) characters who make quite an impact considering their bit parts (then again, maybe it's due to the fact that juxtaposed to an empty desert any character is colorful).

    I appreciate the lack of any real information, lack of a motive, lack of background story on Mann, very little info (if any) on Mann's destination. I do, however, think Spielberg went just a bit too far with the ambiguity; however, that's a very minor complaint that I don't care to dwell on. Sure a few points needed to be touched on more, but then again the Freddy Krueger of diesel trucks is chasing you, are you really going to stop and ask it a question?

    I wish the character emotions had taken the same route instead of feeding the audience those redundant internal monologues. Oh well, there's a fun contrast for you.

    In my review of T3, I wrote 'I wonder what director will be the first to direct the very first film composed solely of one action scene?' Spielberg comes pretty damn close, and the funny thing is his 60+ minutes of chase footage is more interesting than the new millennium's 10+ minute chases. Rock on Steven!
  • Seeing this film again I'm struck by how much first-time (on a film of this length) director Steven Spielberg is able to do with so little. He's basically making a movie in the Roger Corman vein, with little budget, but cart blanche on such a small expectations for a TV movie-of-the-week to do whatever he sees fit to make the film. One could equate the final result of Duel, from a sincerely gripping script by Richard Matheson, to what would come from Robert Rodriguez 10 years after; it shows what can be done to create excitement on limited resources, and in a fresh way. His star, Dennis Weaver, doesn't have to act so much as react, to the very terror that his quasi-mouse form is to the cat that is the giant gasoline truck following him down in the desert. There is no real plot as much as it is visual storytelling, of the tension that builds and builds as this truck gets meaner and more ruthless in its pursuit of this little red car. Spielberg, in going on his first try as director, is surprisingly successful in throwing in everything and a hat to ensure he gets the right angles, sometimes quite unconventional (i.e. many of the interior close-ups on Weaver and on the vehicles). Like Jaws, it's a film by someone who may be reckless with what he's got to film the script, but its done with such an intensity that you might forget how its aged. In fact, like Jaws and other Spielberg thrillers, I would put it to viewers to see how this does hold up over time, even more amazing considering its made-for-TV stance. And lets face it, some of these scenes are just a lot of fun (who isn't grinning during the moment when Weaver is in a rush to push the bus forward and almost gets crushed).
  • Steven Spielberg first movie, with fine performance from Dennis Weaver , giving one of his best ones as a driver who is at first harried and eventually horrified by a large truck. It results to be a fascinating killer game of the classic chase of the cat and mouse. A top-notch made for TV picture, concerning a relentless pursuit, including a provoking and relentless exercice in paranoia. It deals with a commuter businessman who is repeatedly threatened and attacked by an massive, huge trailer on an open desert highway. Along the way, the starring cannot see the face of the driver of the giant truck.

    Spendid thriller originally made for TV plenty of thrills, chills, breathtaking chases, suspense, and many other things. There are not motivations, no explanations, except perhaps for a hint of allegory in the screenline and a tense visual suggestion about the ancient fight between the vulnerable, prancing knight and the lumbering, nasty dragon. Dennis Weaver, only protagonist, delivers a nice acting as a docile traveling salesman who takes on a malevolant juggerneaut, an ominous tractor-trailer causing wreak havoc.

    It contains a nail-biting and suspenseful musical score by Billy Goldenberg. As well as a colorful and adequate cinematography by Jack Marta . Based on a story and screenplay by the prestigious novelist and screenwriter Richard Matheson. The motion picture was very well and superbly directed by Spielberg, being his Film debut. And while in US premiered in Television, it was released threatically in Europe . Here Steven maintains the whole nightmarish situation at total tension and fever pitch. Spielberg successful film to be continued by a series of hits, such as : Sugarland express, Jaws, Close encounters in third phase , Raiders of the lost ark, ET, The color purple, Amazing stories, Empire of the sun, Hook, Jurassik Park, Amistad, Schindler list, Lost world, A. I. , Minority report, The terminal, Munich, War of the words, Indiana Jones and the last crusade and many others. Rating : Notable, better than average, 7.5/10. An absolute cracker that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
  • I remember seeing this movie when I was younger with my mom and it terrified me. A little older now, almost 20, I found this film for cheap at Borders and just had to pick it up. It is still very terrifying to this day. Steven Spielberg directs and Richard Matheson writes, that is honestly as good as it gets. If you want terror, see this movie as soon as possible.

    It truly is a shame that the majority of horror/suspense films use so much CGI to rely on scares these days. This is one of the most terrifying films ever made and it only relies on a car, an old truck and the open road. I wish movies today would at least for this kind of suspense. Duel truly mastered it.

    The story is simple but amazing. A man traveling for a business meeting is terrorized by a truck driver who intentions are to kill him. Dennis Weaver's performance is spot on and his character is brilliant. The cinematography is breath taking. Everything about this movie will keep you on the edge of your seat until the credits begin to roll.

    I think this is Spielberg's best film and fans of his films will definitely enjoy this piece of horror/suspense. Don't go too much longer without seeing it.
  • Duel is a movie that entertains from beginning to the end only if you don't like only movies with complicated plots. It is one hell of a ride through a USA highway. David Mann is the main character who is driving his car not suspecting what is going to happen. He has a family and he is a happy man as well. At least from what we see before the nightmare. And the nightmare is one truck. No monsters, aliens or something scary but fictional. It is a truck whose driver, is a killer and he chooses David for killing purposes. The truck is very fast and scary looking but it is completely real and it stalks David, everywhere, he goes. The greatness, is that it entertains with something that could be understood by a 4 years old. It is one of the very firs movies of Steven Spielberg. The movie is also TV kind but that is not a big problem cause Duel wins another prize:"Best TV movie ever made". It has been nominated for Golden Globe and everybody here at the IMDb, loves it. Full of action and suspense, Duel gives you a notion what does a "mad driver" really means.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    David Mann, an effete, nebbish and bespectacled businessman, is driving to a faraway business appointment. In his tiny Plymouth Valiant, Mann navigates the California desert, stopping only occasionally to make phonecalls to his wife. In one of these phonecalls, Mann's wife argues with him and chastises him for not "defending her" when another man insulted her at a party. In this one scene, the domestic conflicts of all subsequent Spielberg films are set up: man as castrated and shrugging off parental duties.

    Numerous other sequences serve to challenge Mann's masculinity. "You're the boss," a gas station attendant says when Mann refuses to replace a radiator hose. "Not in my house, I'm not," Mann replies. Similarly, when talking to his wife over the phone, Mann raises his leg in a brazenly masculine fashion, only to lower it quickly when a woman forces her way past him. Spielberg shoots the rest of the scene through the glass of a washing machine window, Mann trapped in his wife's disapproving gaze.

    Later, Mann feels threatened or "out of touch" when entering a bar filled with cowboys, old timers and other traditional symbols of masculinity, whilst earlier, the words "She can just be so aggressive" warble from Mann's car radio as a monstrous truck roars by, the very same truck which will eventually become the villain of the picture.

    It's not simply that the truck, and by extension Mann's wife, is the monster of the film, but that middle class expectations, as funnelled through the gaze of the wife (a gaze which is itself strangely linked to Post-War styled domesticity), are the cause of Mann's anxieties. Here, conquering the monster truck is not just a reassertion of masculinity, and of duty toward the family/social/national unit, but a kind of slap on his wife's cheek, a recuperation of a 1950s version of patriarchy, man not only reclaiming his traditional place in the nuclear family but superseding woman's maternal instincts as well.

    The recovery of the father figure is a theme that has been constant throughout Spielberg's filmography. In "ET", both Elliot and the alien are abandoned by their fathers. "Empire of the Sun", "Hook", "AI", "Minority Report", "Catch Me If You Can", "Indiana Jones" and "War of The Worlds" likewise all focus on parental abandonment. "Jurassic Park" itself begins with child hating archaeologist, Dr Alan Grant, threatening kids with a raptor bone (a symbol of the paternal superego). Only later, in a very brief scene, does Grant throw away this bone. At this point he suddenly becomes a father and reconciles with the children.

    "Schindler's List" is itself a version of "Jurassic Park", with the Nazis as the dinosaur monsters, Schindler as the cynical-profiteering and opportunistic parental figure and the infantilized ghetto Jews as threatened children. The story the film tells is not about the Holocaust, but about Schindler's gradual rediscovery of his paternal duty towards the Jews, his transformation into a caring and responsible father echoing Grant's character arc in "Jurassic Park".

    The same story is repeated in Spielberg's "War of the Worlds", in which Tom Cruise plays a divorced working class father who neglects his two children. The invasion of the aliens reawakens in him the proper paternal instincts. In the final scene he finally gets recognition from his son who, throughout the film, despised him.

    So at their core, Spielberg's films are all the story of a divorced or working class father who strives to regain the respect of his family and children. Sometimes this tale is told from the perspective of the child, sometimes it is told from the perspective of the adult. In each case it's the same story. "Duel", the first Spielberg feature to exhibit this trend, itself contains a weak and effeminate father figure who must battle a virile truck in order to assert his masculinity and restore his marriage.

    What's interesting is that, in Spielbergland, the recovery of the father figure can only be brought about by the intrusion of fantastical monsters (Nazis, dinosaurs, Germans, slave traders, pirates, aliens etc – and yes, Spielberg's portrayal of Nazis, Germans and Slave Traders are strictly on the level of fantasy). Recovery is brought about, not just by wilful self-delusion, but solely on the level of cinematic fantasy. Because his men never deal with any truly adult conflicts, relationships or situations, because they wax nostalgically for a certain brand of outdated patriarchy and because they are unaware of how the world changed post 50s (and thus can never confront the roots of their ineffectuality) these characters are stuck in limbo, Spielberg always repeating the same story.

    Spielberg's men must define themselves in the realm of 50's fantasy because the contemporary world is wholly alien to them. They're man-boys whose impotency isn't so much addressed, than it is avoided, repressed, and sublimated to the screen. The schizoid quality of Spielberg's later films is precisely the result of adult-Spielberg disbelieving the fantasy (the simulations in "AI", the cons in "Catch Me", the "peace" in "Munich") but stuck with generating it nevertheless.

    Beyond all this you have Richard Matheson's short story, upon which the film was based. Matheson imbues the film with its mythic undertones, its Old West echoes and its David vs Goliath themes. Spielberg has made many theme-park rides, but never a theme-park ride which resonates so well on the level of myth. Matheson's stripped down plot, its unpretentious symbolism/dialogue, its archetypal brush-strokes, its speed and danger, lend themselves perfectly to Spielberg's sensibilities.

    8/10 – A bit dated, but put it in context and "Duel" is a remarkable achievement. Shot in 16 days with a tiny crew on a TV budget, this little feature was so jaw dropping it got a cinema release in Europe. Beyond the techno-spectacle, there are lots of neat details too. Take, for example, the vehicle advertising pest control in one scene, with the brand name "Grebleips" (Spielberg backwards) stencilled in big letters.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    When i watch this film i get so involved that i actually think Is Dennis Weaver just imagining the truck or is it real? a few reasons for this are that when the bus driver stops him and asks him for a push he tells him about the truck but the bus driver doesn't know what he is on about, he says "no i didn't see any truck" is this all in the mind, is he going insane, is he already insane, is it a dream?? this is why it is such a great film, it leaves you asking questions. Endless dessert road that he is driving on it just adds to the chilly creepy theme of the film and the narrating throughout also keeps your attention and keeps you thinking and this is where i had this theory of David actually maybe he is already insane or is going insane, i mean why in the hell would a truck driver want to chase and kill a man only because he overtook him on a road also i truck going as fast as that i mean it wouldn't happen.. This is definitely a classic, one of those films that are not being made anymore, this film has influence in other films such as Jeepers Creepers etc..

    The best scene in the film is the cafe scene, overall watch this classic if you have not already!!

    9/10
  • Mr-Fusion18 March 2015
    The idea of a motorist getting terrorized on the highway feels like it's been done to death in the last four decades, but I'll be damned if "Duel" doesn't feel fresh. You get the idea how this will all play out - 18-wheeler stalks Dennis Weaver, puts the guy through psychological torment, vanishes only to reappear - but Spielberg keeps up that unrelenting dread beautifully with creative use of sound and camera panes around the tanker that really give it size. What's impressive here is that a big rig has such evil personality. Even more impressive is that such a taut thriller was made for TV.

    This is obscenely enjoyable stuff.

    8/10
  • Warning: Spoilers
    'Duel' is a film that is deceptively simple in its narrative. It is simple enough that if you are simply told what it entails you'd wonder 'Well, how can that ever make a good movie?' This is the same thought I had when my Uncle told me about it and talked about how great it was. He wasn't wrong and there are many reasons why this film works so well.

    While Spielberg worked many wonders in wielding this tale into an unforgettable motion picture, for which, we cannot forget that Richard Matheson wrote a tremendous screenplay based on his own short story. When we watch this film we get a sense of quiet and inner monologue along with paranoid, frightened contemplation by our protagonist which is so well laid out that this comes very close to being a novel on film which is why people thought it couldn't be done. At the beginning we have a long sequence from the point of view of the protagonist. At beginning the only thing we hear besides the car-whipped wind and the hum of the engine is a radio call-in show where a man is talking to a woman and saying that he feels emasculated by his wife. Little do we know it but we are getting information about our protagonist without even knowing about it. I had suspected this for if we weren't hearing a reflection of our protagonist this background conversation would be most extraneous indeed. The first time we see our protagonist is a shot in the rear view mirror of his car. 'Duel' takes what is a very real situation and takes it to its most insane and cataclysmic possible situations and conclusion, the quintessence of horror. All we get in most of the beginning is a truck and a little car on a road. One cuts the other off and then they exchange volleys and try and block each other off. It's a situation people find themselves in quite often, the exchange of 'being cut-off' and it is likely that, more than once, someone has wondered 'Maybe I should stop messing around with this guy I don't know what's going on in his head.' Not only do we see a man pushed to his limits but we only see this man. The trucker appears but once in the whole film. Occasionally, we see an arm sticking out a window but most of the time it's a mystery. The fear of the unknown is also played upon in this film to a great extent and in what took a lot of courage and was difficult to pull off we never really do get to meet the trucker or understand him. I don't often hear people talk about Spielberg's visual sensitivity this is usually because people often confused good art direction and set design with cinematography this is not the case and 'Duel' proves it. We see the wheels bounce and the camera accompanies it. We have to instances in which Spielberg uses a close up on the speedometer to increase the tension just a quick little glimpse and we watch the climb 70, 80, 90, this in tandem with the Hitchcockian and an occasional sampling of vivacious Bluegrass music. We watch our lead talking to his wife through a washing machine lid to show how trapped he feels when talking to his wife. We see shots of the back of the dusty, grimy trucks that read 'Flammable' and foreshadow the trucker's demise and many more. The important thing about all of his camera work in the film is that it all has a purpose it doesn't just look pretty. There's a beautiful sequence where Spielberg tracks around the grill of the car and around the back and does the same with the truck moving up and down as he goes. Not only does this get us closer to the battle but it leaves us uneasy as do much of the shots and it works tremendously. The paranoia of the picture really shows itself when the man is in the diner. At this point and really at any point in the film his name is irrelevant (When speaking to the operator we discover his surname is Mann, that isn't an accident). He is just any old guy. In the diner we hear his thought process as he jumps through possibilities and then just as any person might. We see him look at the bar and scan all the patrons up from their boots to their faces. In this scene he loses it and confronts the wrong man about the on highway altercation he had. It's in fact probably a film that has become more relevant as the years have gone on with incidents of "Road Rage" and even the coining of that phrase. We've seen this sleeper go from an odd chunk of macabre and mutate into something not-so-farfetched.

    The tension just doesn't let down.. We see tight shots of the back of the bus with the kids antagonizing an already aggravated man. We later see a great shot of the truck going back into the tunnel. He comes and knocks the bus out so that he and the car can engage in battle. It's all battle now the trucker has decided to take it to the finish. Our protagonist once tried to avoid it by sitting at the side of the road for an hour but the truck was waiting for him just around the bend. Spielberg returns to the speedometer towards the end as we see the speed decrease because the radiator hose is leaking. This was foreshadowed when he stopped at a gas station and the guy popped his hood and that was noted it was dismissed as mechanic jive. This is a film that should be noted not just as the first film of a great filmmaker but a great film on its own.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This film sets the standard for simplistic stories, thrills and action. Character development and story setup are fantastic. In my opinion this film is just perfect. There are no slow bits, no plot holes, no padding, or a scene out of place. Everything just works.

    Starting at the start this film looks SO good. The cinematography is perfect, the shots are perfect, the pace is perfect.

    I might be ranting on, but it's rare to get a film that just works from beginning to end. Duel opens with a point of view shot from the bonnet of a car, and the radio is playing. We drive through a busy town out onto the highway and keep going into the desert. This is done so well as it starts us off in in busy urban areas and then slowly taken out into the desert, the amount of people and cars becoming less and less until we are alone with the main character. This is a perfect set up of isolation. It makes us feel vulnerable. From then on we travel the protagonist's journey as things get out of hand.

    Dennis Weaver plays David Mann, a simple guy terrorised but a truck on the lonely desert roads of California. The chase begins when Mann takes over a large 18-wheel truck in all innocence, but the truck driver decides to target Mann for the rest of his journey and try his hardest to kill him, but first he wants to play.

    The character set-up is so subtle but so great. For example if you pay attention, we learn Mann is a bit of a wimp, as when he phones his wife at home she mentions an event where she was practically molested by some guy and is angry Mann did not stick up for her. Mann on the other hand plays it off as nothing. This tells us he is not a brave man and his duel with the truck driver all the more profound.

    The directing of this film is also amazing, every shot looks good. To think the producers wanted Spielberg to shoot this using fake backgrounds and superimpose the actor in a car afterwards is scary. The simplicity of the story is thrilling, kudos to Richard Matheson who based this story on an actual event he encountered. Almost the entire movie is shot outdoors and is constantly moving in this dangerous game of cat and mouse. I don't think a more simple film could be made but this has everything a film should have and is so basic in it's execution it's astonishing.

    When you read books about how to write a movie, this is the film that has everything it should have.

    The effects are better than any CGI used today. Why? Because they are real. No superimposing, no blue screens. Just real effects with real stunt men. Like the final shot when the truck falls over the edge of a cliff, it's real and it's all shot in slow motion and it's a breath-taker. The scene where Mann is in a phone booth trying to call for help and the truck drives up in the background, then smashes into the booth just as Mann jumps out - it's all filmed in one shot from many angles with the actor really in the booth. It's hard to believe and unfortunate to think these days those kinds of scenes would just be done with CGI, which completely takes the excitement away.

    Duel's influence can been seen in the opening scenes of Jeepers Creepers, which is almost an exact copy of shots from this film, and practically the whole of Breakdown is an inferior rip-off, the similarities in The Hitcher are indeed vivid, and of course, Spielberg's own JAWS is Duel with a shark instead of a truck (after all, the best film makers find a formula and stick to it).

    This film is almost too simple to believe, you actually get excited and feel relieved for Mann when he reaches a slope, as he can finally manage to out-run the weight of the 18-wheeler. But then Mann begins to run out of petrol and he can only hope to reach the top, then use the downward slope as momentum. So, so simple yet so, so tense!

    In Duel David Mann goes on a journey, mental as well as physical. He is a changed man, perhaps for the better, perhaps now realising it is better to stand up than to back down. As he sits on the cliff edge at the end of the movie, out of breath, out of energy, we too feel exhausted and relieved. The film grabs you in, it does what every movie should, make you feel like you went through what the main character did, then feel the relief that it is over...only you want to do it again!

    Definitely one of my favourite movies of all time.
  • Director Steven Spielberg made the big leagues with this piece of suspense. A traveling salesman(Dennis Weaver) is traveling along a lonely highway, when he notices there is a huge "big rig" following him. It is not his imagination that this massive truck-trailer is not only tailgating him, but is trying to run him off the road. Every chance he gets to allude his terrorist on wheels, the rolling menace appears again in his rear view mirror...again getting closer and closer.

    The tension is spell binding. This is Weaver's best performance. Also in the cast are: Jacqueline Scott, Lucille Benson and Carey Loftin.
  • I didn't think the film was as bad as all that, some of the reviews here are pretty harsh on "Duel". The first time I saw this film, I really was quite interested in what would happen, and it has stood up to subsequent viewings.

    Perhaps because so many of us motorists do have some underlying fear of big-rigs, and I don't care how many people defend them, I work in an industrial park and most of the big-rigs I see just drive right out in front of you without a care in the world how you're going to avoid crashing into them or someone else. Many, many of these rigs are driven by terrible, dangerous drivers, I see it every single day.

    But that's not even what this movie is about. Our story here is about a character named David Mann, whom it is admittedly difficult to generate much feeling about one way or another. He's driving someplace, and in the process he manages to offend a big rig by passing it. Other reviewers have pointed out that we don't know the "reason" for the trucker's irrational behavior, but road rage is usually pointless. I don't have an issue with that. He was mad that he got passed, people have been shot on the road for less than that.

    As far as David Mann's actions once the chase is on, yes, he could have easily lost the trucker, or called the police, or simply turned around at the next exit and went the other way. IF HE WAS A WOMAN! In real life I've known many, many men who would have carried on just as ludicrously as Mann did rather than admit to anyone a) they couldn't lose the truck, b) they were being out-driven by someone in a much slower conveyance, c) they needed help. All of the so-called implausibility of this story is simply male pride. The only surprise is that it is directed by a man.

    In summation, it's not a bad movie, particularly for a TV movie of this era.
  • The first time I saw this, years ago, I thought it was pretty cool. The second time I saw it, when I began collecting VHS tapes, the more it frustrated me and I found it annoying.

    Dennis Weaver plays a man stalked by a faceless person driving a big semi-trailer truck. That's basically the story. The credibility problem is that Weaver lets himself get terrorized instead of simply turning around and going home (hello??!!) or at least making sure the cops were with him. No, he just keeps going and keeps getting terrorized...... which is past being an insult to any viewer with a brain.

    Despite the stupidity, the film gets you involved you can't help but watch it all the way through. But don't make the mistake of thinking this will be good on the second viewing. Once is plenty.
  • I don't know how this film plays today on the VCR, but I very clearly and distinctly remember watching this when it first aired in 1971. It's one of the few TV experiences that sticks in my mind with that kind of clarity after almost 30 years.

    I watched with my dad, a salesman who spent all of his days in his car. At the end of the movie, we were both stunned and drained. Neither of us had seen anything comparable on TV.

    I think sometimes it's important to consider a work in its historical context. Like "Carnival of Souls" this was extremely original in its day, and does some things that have since become somewhat cliched. But unlike many classics, I was lucky enough to experience it without having read or heard anything about it, and without ever having heard of this kid Speilberg.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I have been a big fan of Duel since it was first shown on TV.

    There is this scene: David Mann flags down a elderly couple, and was explaining how the truck driver was trying to kill him. About that time, the truck appeared, and it was ready to ram the couple's car. The old lady said something that sounded like "Ja-yumm".

    Was she saying "Jim"? I never figured that out.

    duel is one of my all-time favorite movies. I've watched it dozens of times.

    But it would be nice to find out what the old lady said.

    It's always been a mystery to me.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Although I have seen the movie several times on TV over the years I never realized it was directed by Spielberg before.

    His direction must explain the monstrous truck wreck in the final sequence - even though the truck looks like a gasoline carrying tractor trailer, and hits a car causing the car to burst into a realistic gasoline fire, NEITHER THE TRUCK NOR TRAILER EXPLODES OR BURSTS INTO FLAMES! I remember the first time I ever saw it - I waited and waited for the huge fireball but it never came. Much more exciting and interesting than the fake, fake explosions in EVERY modern movie.

    ENJOY!
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