Saturday, April 8, 2017

DUEL - Stephen Spielberg (1971)

Stephen Spielberg directed his first full length movie in 1964 at the age of eighteen for a budget of $400.00. It was titled "Firelight," and I don't think any full copies even exist. He made a few shorts, and worked on some TV shows, but his first full budget real movie was tonight's Saturday Night Special made for TV movie called "DUEL" in 1971! Three years after that it was "Sugarland Express," and then over the course of the next four years, it was "JAWS," and "Close Encounters Of The Third Kind," The rest is history!

A duel is defined by Merriam-Webster as "a conflict between antagonistic persons, ideas, or forces, and/or, a hard-fought contest between two opponents!

And while I guess that pertains, this "Duel" is really just one gigantic chase scene, almost non-stop from start to finish, and it's pretty much a one-sided affair!

Dennis (Chester) Weaver is the roadrunner in this cartoon! Dennis's 6'2" frame looks really scrunched into that driver's seat!

He drives a Plymouth Valiant! Good cars, I've owned two, a '59, and a '62. This is a late 60's model!

Here is the coyote, trying to give new meaning to the term 'monster truck!'

This is about as much as you ever get to see of the driver of the truck!

So here's what's happening! Dennis is out on the road, and for no reason at all, this big ugly souped up tanker first blocks his way, and then when he gets past the truck, the guy runs up his ass. Really, just as far as driving around, it could be your worst nightmare. Anyway, the truck is relentless, so Dennis calls home! Great laundromat shot Stephen!

This shot screams 1971!

So he stop's at Chuck's Cafe figuring the trucker will just go on, but nope, the truck stops too!

Everybody in the place looks suspicious, but the truck finally pulls out without Dennis seeing who was the actual driver!

Here's a great shot of the kids in the back of a school bus that Dennis stops and tries to help!

He catches back up to the truck and passes it only to get cornered in between a train and the truck which is now trying to push him into the train!

Next stop, the Snake-o-Rama gas station to try and call the cops, and the truck tries to run over the phone booth with Dennis in it, and busts up a bunch of snake cages in the process!

Like I said, one long chase scene, and Dennis is getting worn out!

The car is not even feeling so valiant any more!

I still don't think it's a duel as much as it is a tale of David and Goliath!

"Duel" is a historical piece of film making no doubt, and it finishes right where it started, and that is nowhere!

I'm assuming the great Richard (Last Man On Earth) Matheson wrote this simple story for some complicated reason, but I'm just too lazy to try and find out why, so as Dale and Grace said in 1963, "That's Why I'm Leaving It Up To You!"


Anonymous said...

Love this movie! I know it was made for TV and we usually got TV movies here in Australia about six months or so after they aired in the U.S. of A. but for some reason they only released this here at the theatres. It was around 1973 before I saw it here on TV but it has always been a favourite.


Paul from Oz

EEGAH!! said...

It's an odd bird, that's for sure Paul! It's funny how people today, and in the future will have no concept of time pre-internet, when it took something six weeks to get mailed etc.

Grant said...

It's also full of very good character actors, like Jacqueline Scott as Weaver's wife, Lou Frizzell (the pharmacist in that famous "Summer of ' 42" scene) and Lucille Benson as the owner of the reptile farm.

EEGAH!! said...

Thanx Grant!!!!

TC said...

Supposedly, Matheson had a close call on a highway when a reckless truck driver sideswiped him or something, and that was the inspiration for "Duel."

Anonymous said...


The full story as told by Matheson is that he and fellow author Jerry Sohl (!) were heading home after a game of golf, when they turned on the car radio and found out that JFK had been assassinated. In their state of grief, this crazy truck driver started bearing down on them, scaring them sh*tless! They soon pulled over so the truck could pass by, and when they got back on the road they discussed which of them would turn this experience into a story.

PS: Matheson won.

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