Directed by Steven Spielberg
Produced by George Eckstein
Written by Richard Matheson
Cast: Dennis Weaver, Jacqueline Scott, Eddie Firestone, Lou Frizell, Lucille Benson, Tim Herbert, Gene Dynarski & Shirley O'Hara
1971/90 mins/Color/5.1 DTS
1.33:1/English/US/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Universal DVD
David Mann (Dennis Weaver) is a business man driving across California in his red 1970 Plymouth Valiant to get to his next meeting in time. Things aren't going that great at home and he tries to make up for it, he's a simple average husband. Unfortunately for him, while on the road he run-in a huge menacing 18-wheeler driven by a sadistic mysterious driver. A game of cat and mouse begins where Mann's life is in jeopardy and he will have to do everything and anything to survive.
Based on a story published in Playboy by famous writer Richard Matheson, Spielberg debut feature still works out today because it was build on suspense and tension. Putting us in the place and mind of the lead character in this cross between a road movie and a monster movie. Shot with a very small budget in only 12 days, Spielberg who was only in his early 20s crafted an amazing piece of film about man against machine. One thing that really makes the truck all more menacing is that we never see who the driver is, kinda like JAWS where it takes almost two hours before we see the shark. The chase scenes are superbly edited with fast cutting giving us the sense that everything goes real fast. The film was made for ABC's Movie of the Week and ran at 73 minutes. Spielberg later went back to film the train sequence and a few other scenes so that it could be 90 minutes long and get a theatrical release.
Universal postponed this disc many time but it is finally here. The film is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio and look simply terrific! For a film over 30 years old it looks stunning with rich, vibrant and nicely saturated colors. There is absolutely no compression, artifacts, grain or dirt. The blacks are superb and there is no problem with edge enhancement. You would never think this film is that old... it sure help that Spielberg made it. Lotta money must have been spend on the restoration. The audiophonic experience is also something to behold. We get the original mono track along with a remastered 5.1 Dolby Digital and 5.1 DTS track. The 5.1 DD track is loud and thunderous, making great use of the subwoofer and directional fx. This is way better then I ever expected it would be.
In "A Conversation with Steven Spielberg", the director recalls the story behind the making of his debut feature film. He talks about his love for the work of Matheson, the casting of Weaver, the reason the car is red, the way he choosed the truck and how it became a character on its own, the 12 days of shooting and all the problematic shots and preparation that went into the film. This is a very interesting 35 minutes interview with the director who later gave us classics like JAWS, CLOSE ENCOUNTER OF THE THIRD KIND, E.T. and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. "Steven Spielberg and the Small Screen" is a 9 minutes featurette about his early TV work on Night Gallery, The Psychiatrist, Columbo and the rarely-seen telefilm Something Evil. "Richard Matheson: The Writing of Duel" is another 9 minutes featurette this time with writer Richard Matheson about how the story of DUEL came to be. We also get a still gallery with some behind the scenes photos and posters from International release as the film got a theatrical run in Europe and Asia. There's the usual Cast and Filmmaker bios, production notes and the trailer which features scenes that are not in the film! The menus are static but nice, the film is separated in 20 chapters, it comes with an promo inlay card for DUEL and Spielberg' second feature, THE SUGARLAND EXPRESS. The DVD itself comes in a keep case which comes in a cardbox. Overall a very nice edition from Universal of the debut film from one of today most important and influential filmmaker.
This Film Features:
Review by Kim Dubuisson. All Right Reserved. 2004. ©