Thursday, May 24, 2012

Underrated Movies Presents: Duel

"When the headlights of a truck become the eyes of a psychopath."

Never a feature movie in the U.S. Duel (1971) was a made for TV movie directed by none other then Steven Spielberg. Working on a low budget Duel showcases that you do not need a lot of money to make a movie that leaves you in awe with suspense. Duel is about one man, actually David Mann played brilliantly by Dennis Weaver. I figure they named him David Mann because this is the story of man vs. man and David is sort of an everyday man type character here, this story could just as easily happen to anyone watching because we all (mostly) travel to work via car daily.

The story is that Mann is going to work and gets cut off by a huge semi truck. Like everyone Mann gets a tad upset and repays the favor by speeding up and getting in front of the huge semi, a task that he has most likely done before (as we all have probably done once or twice). This time though the driver of the semi truck take it personal. The rest of the movie is an amazing and very tense show down between Mann and well...machine. I believe the movie works so well because all drivers have at one point been in a similar situation driving. I know I have cut off or broke suddenly and upset someone but it usually results in them giving you a look or honking. Duel explores the what if situation of if you upset a driver and they just cannot let it go.

Besides having a young and ambitious Spielberg directing you also have a script written by classic novelist Richard Matheson, who has a long and storied history with movies. His books have been used for many movies (I Am Legend, Stir of Echoes, Real Steel, etc...) and he has wrote many episodes of The Twilight Zone, suffice to say the man knows how to write suspense.

Since the entire movie basically takes place on the road with many close ups of  Mann as he drives Spielberg had to really think outside the box of how to make the movie work. I think my personal favorite part about the movie is that you never see the person in the semi truck and better yet you really never know why he is chasing down Mann. If this was to be remade now, they would probably make the semi truck driver the co-star and explain how he just lost his job as a truck driver and was out looking for some revenge. I am pleased that we just have this unstoppable force coming after Mann with no real reasoning behind it. He just wants to kill him for reasons we can only ponder in our heads.

If you are in the mood for a movie that will keep you on the edge of your seat, I highly recommend you watch Duel. It has some great acting by Dennis Weaver to go along with a really well done movie that should have been released at the theaters in the U.S. I know it was released as a full length movie in some other countries. The movie is available on DVD as of now, I am hoping for a bluray release in the future.


slasherflix said...

Actually just watched this on tape a few weeks ago. You can definitely see ties to Jaws in a lot of the set ups. This and "The Car" are two of my favorite man vs. machine flicks. said...

This is one of those films that when I am surfing around for something to watch and I stumble upon it I can't change the channel.

Nice write up, and I enjoyed checking out your blog. :-)

Wesley said...

For some reason, I thought there was a movie released recently with the same title but I guess not - hard to believe this was a "made for tv" movie.