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Duel (1971) Steven Spielberg, Dennis Weaver, & Richard Matheson

Book Vs Movie Podcast

Book Vs. Movie: Duel

The Richard Matheson Short Story Vs. the Steven Spielberg TV Movie

In 1971, a 24-year-old budding director named Steven Spielberg was given a story by his assistant. This fiction story appeared in a recent issue of Playboy magazine, written by one of his favorite Twilight Zone writers, Richard Matheson. The story Duel was about a man driving through the California desert being chased by an evil trucker with a big rig with murder on its mind.

Matheson based it on an incident on November 22, 1963, when he was tailgated by a truck on his way home from a gold game. For years he tried to sell the story to TV but was turned down everywhere he pitched. To prepare for the short story, he drove from Los Angeles to Ventura, California, and recorded everything he saw.

Our protagonist is never named in the story, and we have no idea why the driver is chasing him.

Spielberg was looking to direct TV movies that were giant rating machines then and managed to get the gig with a $450,000 budget and only ten days to make it all work. In the end, he made a masterpiece that became a sensation in the early 1970s, including a 90-minute version released in Europe soon after.

Dennis Weaver gives an intense performance, and the stunt work by Dale Van Sickel and Carey Loftin help make this film a “must-watch” for all fans of Spielberg and/or movie thrillers
In this ep the Margos discuss:

Clips used:

  • Dennis Weaver (talks to himself at the cafe)
  • Duel original TV spot
  • Dennis Weaver confronts a trucker
  • Dennis Weaver at the phonebooth scene
  • Steven Spielberg (behind-the-scenes interview)
  • The truck crash scene and sounds
  • Music by Billy Goldenberg

Book Vs. Movie is part of the Frolic Podcast Network.

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Margo D. @BrooklynMargo www.brooklynfitchick.com brooklynfitchick@gmail.com
Margo P. @ShesNachoMama https://coloniabook.weebly.com/

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