- 1 hr 30 min
In the 1971 thriller movie Duel, David Mann, played by Dennis Weaver, is a mild-mannered traveling salesman driving his red Plymouth Valiant on his way to a business appointment in California. The film opens with Mann leaving his home in downtown Los Angeles, and slowly sets the scene of Mann's monotonous and forgettable life. He passes by a gas station with a menacing-looking truck parked there, but Mann thinks nothing of it at the time. The two vehicles exchange a friendly wave, but from there, things take a quick and drastic turn.
Soon, Mann finds himself being stalked by the same truck he saw back at the gas station. The anonymous driver of the truck relentlessly taunts and harasses Mann on the highway, making him the victim of the driver's deadly cat-and-mouse game. The driver of the truck is never seen, and the audience is left to imagine who he might be and why he is targeting Mann.
As Mann struggles to make sense of the situation, he becomes increasingly anxious and desperate, frantically maneuvering his car in an attempt to lose the truck. The film expertly captures the tension and dread that Mann is experiencing, and the audience is kept on edge as they wonder if Mann will be able to survive this terrifying ordeal.
Throughout the movie, Mann encounters several other drivers who offer their help, but none are able to stop the truck, and some even thwart Mann's attempts to flee by inadvertently getting in his way. Along the way, Mann also comes across a woman named Mrs. Mann, played by Jacqueline Scott, who provides him with brief moments of respite from the chaos. Mrs. Mann is the only character in the film who can understand the severity of the situation that Mann finds himself in, and even then, she still can't fully comprehend the extent of the danger that he is in.
Directed by Steven Spielberg in his film debut, and written by Richard Matheson based on his own short story, Duel is a masterfully executed thriller that expertly plays with the audience's emotions. By keeping the driver of the truck a mystery, the film creates an atmosphere of unpredictability and tension that grips the viewer from start to finish. The movie is stripped of any extraneous details and instead focuses exclusively on the terror that Mann is experiencing, making for an intense and unforgettable viewing experience.
In terms of performances, Dennis Weaver is exceptional in his portrayal of David Mann. Mann is an ordinary man caught in an extraordinary situation, and Weaver perfectly captures the character's deteriorating mental state as the tension builds. He conveys the character's frustration, fear, and panic in a way that is incredibly convincing, and the audience can't help but empathize with him. Despite the lack of dialogue, Weaver's facial expressions and body language speak volumes, and his portrayal of a man pushed to his limits is nothing short of remarkable.
Eddie Firestone also delivers a memorable performance as the driver of the truck. We never see his face or hear his voice, but Firestone's physical performance is outstanding, conveying the driver's sadistic nature through his menacing actions. The sound of the truck's rumbling engine is the only terrifying reminder of his presence, and it relentlessly pursues Mann throughout the film. The truck itself becomes a character in its own right, an ominous force that seems like an agent of death.
In conclusion, Duel is a film that deserves its status as a classic of the thriller genre. With its simple plot and sparse dialogue, it manages to pack a wallop in terms of suspense and terror. It is a testament to Spielberg's talent that he was able to create such a visceral and gripping film in his debut, and the movie has held up well over the past five decades. If you haven't seen Duel already, it is a must-see for any fans of suspenseful, tautly-crafted films.
Duel is a 1983 action movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 30 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.6 and a MetaScore of 81.