In 1839, the revolt of Mende captives aboard a Spanish owned ship causes a major controversy in the United States when the ship is captured off the coast of Long Island. The courts must decide whether the Mende are slaves or legally free.
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
Entire film crew visible in a display case reflection during the "snake station" sequence, just before the truck crashes into it. See more »
[radio playing, driving down the road, approaches the truck]
[David coughs, coughs again]
Talk about pollution.
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The man with the sandwich is referred to as "Hoagy Man". See more »
The DVD version is the 90-minute version, but it differs from earlier releases in at least three instances. The camera shadow on the truck's roof (early on, see Goofs) is gone, corrected either digitally or through cropping. Toward the end, in the VHS version, a voice-over makes it very clear what David is planning to do: go at least 70 miles per hour through "Frenchman's Pass," an incline that the truck won't be able to climb very fast; on the DVD, the voice-over is removed, and all one hears is David shouting, "You can't beat me on the grade!" Finally, another fifteen- or twenty-second shot showing David's eyes superimposed over the road as another voice-over reveals he is about to get on the incline, has been removed. See more »
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.
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