“I’d like to report a truck driver who’s been endangering my life”
What’s it about?
A terrifying road movie; Duel tells the story of your average Mr America, driving across California on a business trip as he regretfully crosses paths with a mean tanker truck and its elusive psychopathic driver.
Why watch it?
This is Spielberg’s directorial film debut, and despite being relatively short, low budget, and apparently shot in just 12 days, it was a critical success and set the bar for his subsequent knack for keeping his viewers teetering on the edge of their seats. Spielberg makes the most of the sinister aspects of the States; depicting lone highways, mistrusting cowboys and creepy roadside diners with beautiful precision. But it’s the truck that takes the award for most frightening; we never really see its crazed occupant, or discover a motive, and so the vehicle, with its monstrous presence and face-like cab, plays the role of predator to thrilling effect. It always impresses when a horror or a thriller gives us a chilling situation in an environment that would ordinarily be seen as safe and mundane, and this perilous motorway game of cat and mouse does just that. Dennis Weaver is brilliant as the astonished and unwitting victim too. If you haven’t seen this before – you must watch it today.