DUEL (1972)

The feature film directorial debut of the then 23-year old Steven Spielberg, Duel sets the bar high for a career of highs and can be seen as a precursor to what the young director will master with JAWS a few years later. 

With a script written by Richard Matheson (THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE), the premise is simple, but effective. 

Businessman David Mann (Dennis Weaver) is driving down a deserted Southern California highway when he cuts off the wrong vehicle. Said vehicle is a large tanker truck that looks like it appears courtesy of a Mad Max post-apocalyptic nightmare. 

The driver (who we never see) is bent on teaching Mann a lesson with murderous intent and for the next 90 minutes he makes his life a living hell. 

Playing like an extended TWILIGHT ZONE episode, it’s a taut, well-crafted suspense thriller than never lets up. 

Weaver does an excellent job portraying a man unprepared to deal with his own life, let alone a crazy truck driver and is brought to the very edge of his sanity as he tries everything he can think of to survive this ordeal. 

Originally made as an ABC TV movie, the film was eventually expanded to add more violence and profanity for a 1983 theatrical release. 

If you like a great edge of your seat thriller or are interested in the early works of a master filmmaker, DUEL is one to see. Brisk and to the point, the movie never drags and will keep you entertained over its exhilarating ride.

MARCH 17, 2014