While traveling through the desert for an appointment with a client, the businessman David Mann 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.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
When Carey Loftin, playing the truck driver, asked Steven Spielberg what his motivation was for tormenting the car's driver, Spielberg told him, "You're a dirty, rotten, no-good son of a bitch." Loftin replied, "Kid, you hired the right man." See more »
When the Valiant is slowing as it's overheating, we see several shots of the car's speedometer drop down to as low as 15 mph. When the shot immediately switches back to Mann behind the wheel, we clearly see from the landscape outside the car, it's going much faster than that. See more »
[radio playing, driving down the road, approaches the truck]
[David coughs, coughs again]
Talk about pollution.
See more »
A scene plays out over the credits where David Mann sits on the edge of the cliff throwing stones. See more »
Spielberg shot an additional 16 minutes of footage (bringing the running time up to 90 minutes from the original 74 of the TV version), including a longer title sequence, the expansion of the gas station / laundromat scene towards the beginning of the film (the entire phone conversation with David Mann's wife being added), and the addition of a scene showing the killer truck trying to push Mann's car under a train at a railroad crossing. These new scenes can be noted by the fact that, for shooting the new footage, Universal had to purchase both a new red Plymouth Valiant and a similar Peterbilt semi truck. The Valiant is a 1972 model, which is very close to the original 1971 model in the original film, but not exact - and the differences can be noted in the film. See more »
Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Back on the Highways...
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
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