4 July 2014 | Prismark10
Fiddler on the roam
The television film Duel directed by a young Steven Spielberg had a driver menaced by an unseen truck driver. The film got a cinema release in some places. Obviously inspired by Duel is the 1979 Television movie Death Car on the Freeway where an unseen driver known as the Freeway Fiddler (because he puts on bluegrass music) is terrorising women drivers and pushing them off the freeway. It is surprising that no other driver notices the maniac loose on the road when he is bashing into other cars and being a danger to everyone!
The police (represented by Peter Graves) are reluctant to take these incidents seriously and at one point blame the women for being bad drivers for getting into these scrapes. At least it is a social commentary regarding sexism and the police force!
Shelley Hack is the reporter who makes the story public and plots to catch him even taking special hazardous driving lessons in case the Fiddler pursues her.
The director is Hal Needham, a former stuntman and a director associated with Burt Reynolds and films such as the Cannonball movies. There are some good car stunts from such an esteemed stunt director but it also suffers from rather dull made for 1970s television movie narrative.
George Hamilton is wasted as Hack's ex beau and star news reporter. The film loses focus when it dwells on relationship issues and when it introduces some kind of Hells Angels type of group who may know the identity of the Freeway Fiddler.
An interesting premise made bland and even silly when it should had been grittier.