Desert Duel With Satan
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The offended patron beats Mann and leaves in a different truck. The pursuing truck leaves seconds later, indicating its driver was never inside the diner. Mann leaves and stops to help a stranded school bus but his front bumper gets caught underneath the bus's rear bumper.
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The truck appears at the end of a tunnel. Mann and the bus driver free his car and Mann flees.
Shortly after down the road, Mann stops at a railroad crossing waiting for a freight train to pass through. The truck appears from behind and pushes Mann's car toward the oncoming freight train.
The train passes, and Mann crosses the tracks and pulls over. The truck continues down the road and Mann slowly follows. In an attempt to create more distance between him and the truck, Mann drives at a very leisurely pace as other motorists pass him. Once again, he encounters the truck which has pulled off to the side of the road ahead, intentionally waiting for Mann.
He pulls out in front of him and starts antagonizing him again. Mann jumps clear just in time. The station owner cries out as the truck destroys her animals' cages. Mann jumps into his car and speeds away. Around a corner he pulls off the road, hiding behind an embankment as the truck drives past. After a long wait, Mann heads off again but the truck is waiting for him again down the road.
Mann attempts to speed past but it moves across the road, blocking him. Mann seeks help from an elderly couple in a car, but they flee when the truck backs up towards them at speed. The truck stops before hitting Mann's car; Mann speeds past the truck, which begins pursuing. Mann swerves toward what he believes is a police car, only to see it is a pest control vehicle.
The truck chases him up a mountain range. The radiator hose of Mann's car breaks and the car overheats. He barely makes the summit and coasts downhill in neutral as the truck follows. Mann spins out and crashes into a cliff wall and barely escapes being crushed by the truck but manages to restart his car. He drives up a dirt road and the truck follows him. He turns to face the truck in front of a canyon. He locks the accelerator using his briefcase and steers the car into the oncoming truck, jumping free at the last moment.
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The truck hits the car, which bursts into flames, obscuring the driver's view. The truck plunges over the cliff, along with the car.
Above the wreckage, Mann celebrates. He then sits at the cliff's edge and throws stones into the canyon as the sun sets. The script is adapted by Richard Matheson from his own short story, originally published in Playboy magazine. Matheson got the inspiration for the story when he was tailgated by a trucker while on his way home from a golfing match with friend Jerry Sohl on November 22, , the same day as the John F. Kennedy assassination. The original short story was given to Spielberg by his secretary, who told him that it was being made into a movie of the week and suggested he apply to be the director.
The building is still on Sierra Highway and has housed a French restaurant called Le Chene since Production of the television film was overseen by ABC 's director of movies of the week Lillian Gallo. Following Duel ' s successful TV airing, Universal released the film overseas in The TV movie was not long enough for theatrical release, so Universal had Spielberg spend two days filming several new scenes, turning Duel into a minute film.
The new scenes were set at the railroad crossing and the school bus, as well as the scene of Mann talking to his wife on the telephone. A longer opening sequence was added with the car backing out of a garage and driving through the city.
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Expletives were also added, to make the film sound less like a television production. In the Archive of American Television website, Spielberg is quoted in an interview given by Weaver as saying: "You know, I watch that movie at least twice a year to remember what I did". Matheson's script made explicit that the unnamed truck driver, the villain of the film, is unseen aside from the shots of his arms and boots that were needed to convey the plot. Throughout the film, the driver of the truck remains anonymous and unseen, with the exception of three separate shots, where the stunt driver can be seen in the truck's cab, where his arm waves Weaver on into oncoming traffic, and where Weaver observes the driver's snakeskin boots.
His motives for targeting Weaver's character are never revealed, but the truck had numberplates from every state. Spielberg says that the effect of not seeing the driver makes the real villain of the film the truck itself, rather than the driver. The car was carefully chosen, a red Plymouth Valiant , although three cars were used in the actual production of the movie.
All the Valiants were equipped with a TorqueFlite automatic transmission. Spielberg did not care what kind of car was used in the film, but insisted the final chosen model be red to enable the vehicle to stand out from the general landscape in the wide shots of the desert highway. Spielberg had what he called an "audition" for the truck, wherein he viewed a series of trucks to choose the one for the film.
He selected the older Peterbilt over the current flat-nosed " cab-over " style of trucks because the long hood of the Peterbilt, its split windshield, and its round headlights gave it more of a "face", adding to its menacing personality. During the original filming, the crew only had one truck, so the shots of the truck falling off the cliff had to be completed in one take. One of these, a Peterbilt , virtually identical to the original truck except for its air intake, brake lines between the tractor and trailer, mud flaps on the back of the twin rear tyres and a support shelf for the air conditioning unit, was later destroyed in another movie production.
Only one of those trucks has survived, a Peterbilt that was kept and prepared as a back up truck for the truck, but wasn't used. Stock footage of both vehicles was later used in an episode of the television series The Incredible Hulk , titled "Never Give a Trucker an Even Break". Spielberg was not happy about this, but the usage was legal, as the show was produced by Universal and the Duel contract said nothing about reusing the footage in other Universal productions.
The Peterbilt truck was purchased several times. It is currently owned by a truck collector and is on display at Brad's Trucks in North Carolina.
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The film's original score was composed by Billy Goldenberg , who had previously written the music for Spielberg's segment of the Night Gallery pilot and his Columbo episode "Murder by the Book," and co-scored Spielberg's The Name of the Game episode "L. Spielberg and Duel producer George Eckstein told him that because of the short production schedule, he would have to write the music during filming, and Goldenberg visited the production on location at Soledad Canyon to help get an idea of what would be required.
Spielberg then had Goldenberg ride in the tanker truck being driven by stunt driver Carey Loftin on several occasions; the experience terrified the composer, although he did eventually get used to it. Goldenberg then composed the score in about a week, for strings, harp, keyboards and heavy use of percussion instruments, with Moog synthesiser effects but eschewing brass and woodwinds.
He then worked with the music editors to "pick from all the pieces they had and cut it together with the sound effects and dialogue. It was the 18th highest-rated TV movie of the year with a Nielsen rating of It was eventually released to cinemas in Europe and Australia; it had a limited cinema release to some venues in the United States, and it was widely praised in the UK. The film's success enabled Spielberg to establish himself as a film director.
The film received many positive reviews and is often considered one of the greatest TV movies ever made. Interpretations of Duel often focus on the symbolism of Mann and the truck.
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