Duel (1971)

DUEL (1971)
TV-Movie
Article 2768 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-5-2008
Posting Date: 3-12-2009
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Featuring Dennis Weaver, Eddie Firestone,Gene Dynarski
Country: USA

A businessman on a road trip suddenly finds himself targeted by a truck and its unseen driver.

One could argue whether this movie really belongs in the horror genre, but the truck does make for an effective “monster”, and the whole scenario is certainly nightmarish. It’s definitely an early triumph for Steven Spielberg, and is as nail-biting as JAWS as the action escalates throughout the movie. The original version ran 74 minutes, so I’m assuming I saw the expanded version released to theaters abroad; there’s some mild cussing that most certainly wouldn’t have aired on television here. I don’t know which scenes were added for the longer version, but I do know there are a few moments that don’t really work; the entire school bus section could have been excised and I wouldn’t have missed it one bit. Still, it does grip the attention, and you’ll find yourself, like actor Dennis Weaver’s character here, trying desperately to find some way to outwit the pursuing truck, or to find some weak spot that will give you the advantage. One thing is for sure; this is one TV-Movie that feels nothing like a TV-Movie, and Spielberg would move on from TV-Movies to theatrical releases after this one.

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