Duel (1971)

USA, 13 November
74m (US TV), 90m (European theatrical)
35mm film, Technicolor, 4:3
mono, English

An American horror television film directed by Steven Spielberg. The film was first broadcast in the States November 1971 and it was released theatrically outside the USA the following year. The theatrical version is 16 minutes longer, the result of two additional days of filming done after it was first broadcast. The new footage comprised the scenes at the railroad crossing, scenes involving the school bus, and the moment when lead character David Mann calls his wife from a payphone. The opening sequence was extended with footage of Mann's car driving through the city and several expletives were added in an effort to make the production seem less like a television film.

Plot Summary

A boring drive across turns into a nightmare for David Mann when he passes a huge truck and finds himself being pursued and persecuted by the never-seen driver. The duel escalates out of control until Mann is forced to take drastic measures to escape his opponent.


* = uncredited

Directed by: Steven Spielberg
© MCMLXXII [1972] by Universal Pictures 1This copyright was added to the film for it's theatrical screenings outside the USA
Universal presents
Produced by: George Eckstein
Unit Production Manager: Wallace Worsley
Screenplay by: Richard Matheson based on his published story
Assistant Director: Jim Fargo
Director of Photography: Jack A. Marta
Film Editor: Frank Morriss
Color by: Technicolor
Music by: Billy Goldenberg
Sound: Edwin S. Hall
Westrex Recording System
Titles & Optical Effects: Universal Title
Art Director: Robert S. Smith
Set Decorations: S. Blydenburgh
Locations: Acton, California, USA *
Stunt Coordinator: Cary Loftin

Dennis Weaver (David Mann)
Jacqueline Scott (Mrs Mann)
Eddie Firestone (cafe owner)
Lou Frizzell (bus driver)
Gene Dynarski (man in cafe)
Lucille Benson (lady at Snakerama)
Tim Herbert (gas station attendant)
Charles Seel (old man)
Shirley O'Hara (waitress)
Alexander Lockwood (old man in car)
Amy Douglass (old woman in car)
Dick Whittington ([voice of] radio interviewer)
Cary Loftin (the truck driver)
Dale VanSickle (car driver)
Shawn Steinman *

Alternative Titles

Um Assassino pelas Costas – Portugal
El diablo sobre ruedas – Spain
Duell – Germany
Duellen – Sweden
Encurralado – Brazil
Kauhun kilometrit – Finland
Párbaj – Hungary
Pojedynek na szosie – Poland

Extracts included in
The American Film Institute Salute to Steven Spielberg (1995)
The Incredible Hulk: Never Give a Trucker an Even Break (1978)

See also
Breakdown (1997)
Hard Car – Desiderio sfrenato del piacere (1990)
Jeepers Creepers (2001)
Joy Ride (2001)
Speed Zone! (1989)



  • The Movie p.1560 – credits, review
  • TV Times 18-24 April 1987 p.55 – credits, synopsis
  • TV Times 24-30 September 1988 pp.31; 40 – review; credits, synopsis


  • 500 Essential Cult Movies: The Ultimate Guide by Jennifer Eiss with J.P. Rutter and Steve White p.88 – illustrated credits, synopsis, review
  • Darkness in the Bliss-out: A Reconsideration of the Films of Steven Spielberg by James Kendrick pp.30-33, 34, 87, 190
  • Euro Gothic: Classics of Continental Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby p.338
  • Film Review 1973-74 by F. Maurice Speed (ed) p.217
  • The Films of the Eighties by Robert A.Nowlan and Gwendolyn Wright Nowlan p.158 – credits, synopsis
  • The Highway Horror Film by Bernice M. Murphy pp.2, 10, 12, 39, 40, 42-3, 49, 50, 56-7, 77, 100-102
  • Hoffman's Guide to SF, Horror and Fantasy Movies 1991-1992 p.115 – credits, short review
  • Horror and Science Fiction Films II by Donald C. Willis p.113-114
  • Horror Films by Subgenre: A Viewer's Guide by Chris Vander Kaay and Kathleen Fernandez-Vander Kaay p.145
  • Horror Films of the 1970s by John Kenneth Muir pp.110-112 – credits, synopsis, review
  • Horrorshows: The A-Z of Horror in Film, TV, Radio and Theatre by Gene Wright p.78-79 – credits, review
  • Movies Made for Television: The Telefeature and the Mini-Series 1964-1979 by Alvin H. Marill p.75 – credits, review
  • The Pocket Essentials Steven Spielberg by James Clarke pp.25-28
  • Richard Matheson on Screen: A History of the Filmed Works by Matthew R. Bradley pp.155-162
  • Steven Spielberg by George Perry pp.20-23, 104
  • Steven Spielberg (2nd ed) by Philip M. Taylor pp.29, 41, 51, 59, 73, 74-80, 84, 93, 123, 127, 144
  • Steven Spielberg by Donald R. Mott & Cheryl McAllister Saunders pp.19-24, 177, 178
  • Steven Spielberg by Sean Connolly pp.22-23
  • Steven Spielberg: A Biography by Joseph McBride pp.18, 43, 49, 198, 199-208, 214, 227, 237, 248, 205n, 337n, 264n, 502, 503, 507
  • Steven Spielberg, Filmmaker by James Robert Parish pp.33-35, 42, 72
  • The World of Fantasy Films by Richard Myers p.157

Other sources

  • BFI Southbank Guide June 2016 p.15 – illustrated listing