Duel (1971, Steven Spielberg)

The country’s got West Side Story Remake fever, but we’ve stayed home, trying to avoid catching any other kinds of fever – and after pulling the plug on The Terror, I need a new exercise-bike show to watch, so I gave this a try, in two parts. What better way to encourage movement than to watch a propulsive road movie?

Dennis Weaver (TV’s McCloud) is chased and terrorized by a big-ass truck. His thoughts via voiceover try to apply reason to the situation, but there’s no reason to be found – the truck is dangerously toying with him. It tries to push him into a train, drives right through a phone booth where he’s calling the cops (and some roadside snake aquariums), tailgates him at dangerous speeds. Will this emasculated modern man outdrive and outsmart the giant machine? Yes! Not without difficulty – the movie is partly a PSA for proper automotive maintenance, per the advice of your mechanic, so I feel pretty good that I changed both my air filters the day before viewing.

Written by Twilight Zone vet Richard Matheson, and I thought of the Zone a few times, when the world seems to be stacked against Weaver, diner locals and schoolbus children all making fun of him, and only he senses the danger, or is maybe imagining it, and directed to hell and back by young Spielberg.

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