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Duel – 1971
Fear is the driving force.
Steven Spielberg

Richard Matheson also story

George Eckstein producer

Dennis Weaver – David Mann
Jacqueline Scott – Mrs. Mann
Eddie Firestone – Cafe Owner
Lou Frizzell – Bus Driver
Gene Dynarski – Man in Cafe
Lucille Benson – Lady at Snakerama
Tim Herbert – Gas Station Attendant
Charles Seel – Old Man
Shirley O’Hara – Waitress
Alexander Lockwood – Old Man in Car
Amy Douglass – Old Woman in Car
Dick Whittington – Radio Interviewer
Carey Loftin – The Truck Driver (as Cary Loftin)
Dale Van Sickel – Car Driver (as Dale Van Sickle)
Shawn Steinman – Girl on school bus (uncredited)
Review by Theo Robertson

Duel (1971/I) (TV)

Effective Thriller With A Few Minor Problems And One Major One,
As made for television movies go DUEL is an absolute legend . It’s possibly a little overrated in my opinion but thank goodness it doesn’t revolve around Jane Seymour or Victoria Principal nursing a sick child . It is of course the movie that kick started the career of Steven Spielberg and you do wonder slightly if this had been directed by A.N Other would the TVM be so well remembered today ? Would it also be obtuse to say that much of the acclaim should be heaped upon Richard Matheson’s script that brings up subconscious fears about traveling through strange rural territory ?

There are a few flaws to the movie ,like it’s never explained why Mr truck driver is making life hell for David Mann but I guess this reflects life since so much grief in the world is carried out without motive or reason . There are a few shots where it’s painfully obvious that the vehicles aren’t traveling more than about 10 MPH but let’s not forget this is a TVM with a limited budget and a debut director . Come to think of it why did Spielberg stop making thrillers like this and JAWS and concentrated on sentimental crap like ET and THE TERMINAL ?

DUEL is as thought provoking and as exciting as anything on his resume so I can forgive any flaws this debut has . All except one – The lead actor . I’m sorry but Dennis Weaver is awful , he just doesn’t have the range or ability to portray David Mann convincingly . Mann that’s his name , think about it he’s everyman driving along a desert highway , he finds himself in an alien landscape with no friends and someone who wants to do him serious harm . Both the director and scriptwriter know the character and the actor playing him carries the whole movie but Weaver drags the whole scenario down somewhat especially the paranoid voice over scenes in the diner. Weaver doesn’t ruin the movie as such but his performance stops DUEL from the classic many critics claim it is and if it wasn’t for the director and the tight script this TVM may well have been instantly forgotten

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70s Films

A tour through the great and not so great films of the seventies The seventies saw a huge change in styles and genres from the advent of the slasher horror movies like Halloween and the blockbuster summers films started by Jaws. More...

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