I watched Duel dozens of time on television as a kid, as well as it’s rip-off cousin The Car, so it was a treat to revisit it. I certainly didn’t notice our hero’s crisis of masculinity back then, but that’s one of the gifts of middle age, I guess.
David Mann is a salesman driving across the California desert to an appointment that he can’t be late for. He passes a truck, but it immediately overtakes him back as soon as he slows down. Mann is forced into more and more dangerous maneuvers to stay ahead of the truck and its driver, who he begins to realise is playing a deadly game.
George Miller must have been inspired a little by this when he was making Mad Max eight years later. The chase scenes are always exciting, even when they stretch for several minutes across a monotonous desert landscape, which is testament to Spielberg’s direction. It’s mind-boggling to think this was his first film. He was twenty-four ffs.