The revival of blogging continues with some more missives from the chunky bubbling brainpool of interesting and downright disturbing celluloid. Yes it’s that time for the S-s-s-s-s-s-Sunday Cult Film c-c-c-c-Corner!
Now even though we’ve had a break of a couple of weeks, we’re still on the road (ha!) to continue with our “Road Movie” season. And this week sees a confident directorial debut from a man who went on to become probably the main powerhouse in Hollywood over the last 25 years. Ladies and gentlemen, i give to you DUEL.
Duel was a TV movie directed in 1971 by a young whippersnapper name Steven Spielberg. Yes THAT Steven Spielberg. It stars Dennis Weaver as David Mann, an electronics salesman driving from Los Angeles on a business trip. On his journey, he encounters a dirty truck that drives below the speed limit and seemingly bocking the way. By simply passing the truck, Mann unknowingly instigates an increasingly dangerous Cat and Mouse game with the truck’s owner who becomes more psychotic in his attempts to harass and run Mann off the road.
Duel is a tight, compact little film that has no fat on it to speak of. The film’s villain is bathed in an air of mystery (you never see his face) and his truck, filthy, rusting and belching fumes take on an avatar role of a faceless predator stalking its prey. With not much in the way of a script, Weaver manages to make a decent performance as the salesman Mann, as his bourgeois trappings and allusions of civilised behaviour are stripped away as he is forced to fight for his life.
As for Spielberg, this is an intriguing glimpse of the man before he went into commercial blockbusters (A lot like his friend George Lucas who directed interesting art films, before Star wars came along).
So if fancy a tense thriller to war you up on this cold Sunday evening, then wrap yourself up in a warm duvet and a warm cup of tea watch this road movie from hell.