Duel (Special Edition) [DVD]
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Businessman David Mann (Dennis Weaver) is driving on a lonely stretch of highway when he notices that he is being followed by a huge, menacing diesel truck. The truck then starts trying to push him off the road, and despite Mann's attempts to defuse the situation, it soon has him engaged in a punishing duel to the death. Originally made for American television but given a cinema release in the UK, this was director Steven Spielberg's feature debut.
This is the TV movie that put Steven Spielberg on the map, shortly before he made The Sugarland Express. Working from a script by Richard Matheson, the film stars Dennis Weaver as a mild-mannered traveling salesman who unintentionally angers the driver of a semi truck. Suddenly, the truck is not only riding his tail but trying to run him off the road. No matter what he does (pulling over, stopping at a diner, calling the cops), he can't get rid of it. Spielberg makes the wise decision of never showing the driver, even as he cranks the voltage on the film's suspense elements. As a result, the truck itself takes on an air of satanic menace--even a personality of sorts--as it seems to hunt its human prey. Spielberg made a lot out of a little, suggesting just how skilled a storyteller he would become. --Marshall Fine
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Top Customer Reviews
Duel is a relentlessly gripping game of cat-and-mouse between a terrified Dennis Weaver in his red Sedan, and the malevolent driver of a monstrous, greasy truck. That the truck has a driver at all is almost irrelevant. The cab windows of that vehicle are rarely in shot, instead Spielberg focuses on the small headlights and prominent engine grille - the truck's beady eyes and vicious snout. Those features are most threatening when shot at low-level as the truck gains speed on Weaver.
This fatalistic game begins when Weaver tries to overtake the truck in a hurry to make a meeting in California. He has already been framed as a man in a mediocre job with a loveless family life. His impotence is reinforced in one of the film's most memorable scenes when Weaver struggles to assist a stuck school bus. In the distance the lights of the truck come on. As Weaver takes off terrified, the truck smoothly, deliberately moves the bus. It's more terrifying still that the driver has shown he is capable of compassion, but has chosen to play with Weaver's life, beckoning him into oncoming traffic, running him off the road, and edging him onto a rail track.
Weaver is excellent as the hunted man - his paranoia in a roadside café with the truck looming ominously in the background is intoxicating, accentuated by his nervy voice-over. His desperation when the truck pulls out from hidden spots is palpable, and his resolution to take a stand is sincere - understandable as Weaver did many of the stunts himself. His performance, with Speilberg's excellent direction, makes Duel a seminal example of an economical premise turned into a memorable, overwhelmingly edgy thriller.
* Mann telephoning his wife from a gas station
* Entire school bus scene
* Truck pushing Mann's car towards a speeding train at a level crossing
Also, this extended version has a slightly different soundtrack from the original - most noticeably the 'dinosaur roar' is (sadly) missing.
Suspenseful and memorable with a good performance from Dennis Weaver, and although there isn't very much dialogue in this film, some of it is seminal;
Radio Host: "Well, uh, what do you do, may I ask?"
Caller: "I play meat"
Radio Host: "You what?"
Caller: "I play meat"
Radio Host: "You play meat?"
Caller: "Yes, uh, meat. You know, beef and pork"
Radio Host: "That's sick, man"
DVD has a great print, Dolby 5.1 and 5.1 DTS, English subtitles and some great extras:
* A Conversation with Director Steven Spielberg on Making Duel *
35 minutes and an excellent insight, containing clips and stills from many of Spielberg's other films.
* Steven Spielberg and the Small Screen *
A 10 minute overview of his TV work as director, again excellent and with many short clips of his early efforts.
* Richard Matheson: The Writing of Duel *
A 10 minute segment with Matheson, interesting and very watchable.
* Trailer *
* Photograph and Poster Gallery *
Mainly film posters for the overseas release, with a few B/W stills from production.
So many reasons to see this:
Spielberg is SO good at doing minimal (seriously, Steve, about time to get back to some of that?): Pared-down music, only natural-sound detail; no human baddie, just a perfectly cast truck as the anthropomorphised "killer". Even the shattering finale is captured on ordinary live film, albeit in one of the most awe-inspiring shots ever committed to celluloid.
Great raw material: OK, so of course the script dates just a bit, with what dialogue there is sounding TV-ish and a wee bit cheesy to the modern ear; and kids now seeing this film might snigger at the personal styling details and plot's obvious reliance on predating mobile phones; but hey... We're right there for Mann (Dennis Weaver) from the very start, as it's vital that we have to be, since his story is so discreetly and elegantly constructed.
And as a piece of performance: Not just by Weaver, in whom we completely believe as the put-upon everyman reluctantly forced to find his inner warrior.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
So, remember the days before you could stream movies, and get them on dvd? You do? Well, you had to either get your fave film on VHS, or you could be an outlaw and tape it from the... Read morePublished 1 month ago by L. Tait
Love this film
I was up late one night, could not sleep and the voice over said "next movie coming up is DUEL" by Steven Spielberg. Read more
Quite an old film which I had seen before but wanted to have a copy to view at home and enjoy over and over again. Great fun and worth buying.