Turns out, Spielberg made a movie that’s essentially one long chase sequence before Miller did. Is there anything Spielberg didn’t get to first? It’s crazy how assured this 25 year old was with his camera. Duel has very little going on and yet his camera speaks so loudly and participates in the action so deftly, that I was invested the whole time. Honestly the only thing that prevents this from being a highly re-watchable awesomefest is that poor man’s Burt Reynolds (I’m sure Dennis Weaver would hate to know he’s being referenced this way) isn’t that much fun to spend a whole movie with. If I could get on board with him, this movie would be a blast.
One quick note – it’s interesting to look at fathers across Spielberg’s work, as he is perhaps the most famous child of divorce there is. All of his movies seem influenced by this in some way. And the idea of the man being usurped as the head of the household is prominent in the opening of this movie. I wonder if perhaps this was Spielberg wrestling with why his father left (something he would continue to wrestle with in Close Encounters) before hitting a period where he blames his father for leaving, rather than trying to figure out why or who else might be to blame.
Duel scored: ★★★