Wednesday, October 13, 2004


Films recently watched:

Buy it from AmazonDuel (1971) dir. by Steven Spielberg

I caught some of this one on TV when I was a teenager. It is very engaging and I remember getting "sucked in" to the story. For seemingly no reason, a big-rig oil tanker decides to torment David Mann (played by Dennis Weaver) as he is trying to drive across the California desert. It begins as today's average case of what we now call "road rage" but ends up with Mann fighting for his life against this psychotic truck in a desperate game of cat and mouse (please forgive the lame cliché).

One fascinating aspect to this film is that Spielberg absolutely refuses to show us the driver of the truck. Is this a story of man vs. man or is it man vs. machine? We may see the driver's arm out the window or his boots under the truck, but who is this maniac driver and why is he trying to kill David Mann? Spielberg does an excellent job of putting us in Mann's head, providing his inner dialogue and shooting much of the time from Mann's point of view. Dennis Weaver also does an amazing job of helping us feel the moments of sheer panic and elated relief that his character goes through again and again.

If you can stand the suspense, I definitely recommend this. The new Collector's Edition DVD does justice to this film. The audio and video elements are clean and better than what you might expect from a 1971 film made for television. Also some nice bonus features on this including an interview with Steven Spielberg discussing this film.

For any fellow OAR (Original Aspect Ratio) advocates out there, because this film was made for American television, the correct aspect ratio of this film is approx. 1.33:1. That means that the image will fill a standard television screen. Duel was released theatrically in Europe and for that, it was expanded to 1.85:1, but it was filmed with a 1.33 frame in mind, so that is the correct way to view it.

(pointless funny trivia from imdb)
When Carey Loftin, the stunt man playing the truck driver, asked Spielberg what his motivation was for tormenting the car driver, Spielberg told him "You're a dirty, rotten, no-good son of a bitch." Loftin replied, "Kid, you hired the right man."

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