A deranged truck driver weaponizes his tanker truck to terrorize a traveling salesman across the California desert.
“Duel” (1971): A first glimpse at Greatness
And he was only gettin’ warmed up
Steven Spielberg’s debut feature film as a director is a taught and tense thriller made for TV back in 1971, but thoroughly of theatre quality.
“Duel” tells the chilling tale of an unhinged Truck Driver (whose face we never see) weaponizing his tanker rig to do in ineffectual traveling salesman Dennis Weaver, who is desperately driving to beat a deadline (pun intended) in his beater sedan. A terrifying game of Cat & Mouse plays out viciously on remote stretches of sunbaked roads and brutally barren desert.
Nobody does it better
This classic suspense story serves as the first in a long and illustrious line of movies where Spielberg does what he does like no one ever has. Or ever will.
That is, masterfully transforming the mundane circumstances of regular folk’s lives into extraordinarily unforgettable and emotional cinematic experiences.