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Duel
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Genre:Thriller
Year:1971
Rating:NR
Cast:Steven Spielberg, Dennis Weaver, Jacqueline Scott, Eddie Firestone

Driving down a deserted Southern California highway at a safe and sane 55 miles per hour, Dennis Weaver steps on the pedal to pass a large gas trailer truck. Moments later, the truck is back, dangerously tailgating Weaver before abruptly cutting him off. Let the games begin! For the next 90 minutes, Weaver and the never-seen truckdriver are pitted against one another in a motorized duel....to the death. Author Richard Matheson conceived Duel after a similar experience with a reckless trucker. The story first appeared in Playboy magazine, then was picked up for adaptation by the producers of The ABC Movie of the Week. The director chosen to helm Duel on location in Soledad Canyon was a bright 23-year-old who'd shown promise on such series as Night Gallery and Columbo: Steven Spielberg. First telecast with surprisingly little fanfare on December 18, 1971 (TV Guide reviewer Judith Christ casually recommended the film for Dennis Weaver fans), Duel ended up one of the surprise TV-movie hits of the season; it would most likely have been the hit had it not been for Night Strangler, which came along a few months later. So popular was Duel that a somewhat longer version (with added violence and profanity) was prepared for theatrical release. Hal Erickson

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