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DUEL [SE]: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
Businessman David Mann (Dennis Weaver) sets off in his well worn Plymouth for an out of town meeting across the empty lands outside Los Angeles, but is soon terrorized by a huge truck which seems to be challenging him to a duel - in which David doe not have the advantage.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Steven Spielberg's debut feature is a ripper. It first appeared in Playboy as a short story (yeah, someone actually read it in there) as Steven Spielberg explains in the excellent extra, Conversation with Steven Spielberg, made recently for the DVD release.

Within 6 minutes of the opening, we're in the all too familiar situation of an everyday sedan (a red Plymouth) driver overtaking a big, smoke spewing truck on the open road, in this case, out of Los Angeles. And then it begins: the truck, big, dirty, menacing, speeds past the sedan, whose driver is listening to talkback radio, with a belligerence that's intangible - but real. The duel is engaged. Through the grime, a 'Flammable' sign is visible. The driver isn't.

A phone call to wife at a petrol station soon establishes that driver David Mann (Dennis Weaver) - our Everyman - is on call at home at 6.30. Time pressure ... And the ingredients are all in place. Simple, classic, edgy, riveting cinema. Jack A. Marta's cinematography deserves credit for a major contribution to the thrill of the duel.

As far as psychological thrillers go, Duel is close to Hitchcockian, which isn't surprising given Spielberg's admiration for the old Brit director. He talks about it in the Conversation extra. But of course wanting to emulate the great man's cinematic chops is one thing - actually executing it another matter, and Spielberg does it here. Notable scenes include a pit stop at Chuck's Café, where David tries to identify which of the cowboy booted guys at the counter is his adversary; and a well edited scene at a level crossing when a train is thundering by. Not to mention the spectacular finale.

A beautifully realised thriller from a short story; senior textbook filmmaking with flair.

Published April 30, 2009



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

DUEL [SE]: DVD (PG)
(US, 1971)

CAST: Dennis Weaver, Eddie Firestone, Jacqueline Scott, Gene Dynarski, Tim Herbert

PRODUCER: George Eckstein

DIRECTOR: Steven Spielberg

SCRIPT: Richard Matheson (short story by Matheson)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jack A. Marta

EDITOR: Frank Morriss

MUSIC: Billy Goldenberg

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Robert S. Smith

RUNNING TIME: 85 minutes

SPECIAL FEATURES: Conversation with Steven Spielberg - Making Duel; Spielberg and the Small Screen; Richard Matheson - writing Duel; trailer; photo gallery. Languages: English, Hungarian [subtitles: English, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Hebrew, Hungarian, Norwegian, Swedish]

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Universal

DVD RELEASE: January 5, 2005

UPCOMING EVENT
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre, Parramatta, Sydney.

Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.







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