Review Detail

9.7 7 10
FanMix May 20, 2015 2355
(Updated: September 18, 2015)
Overall rating
 
9.3
Audio/Video Quality
 
10.0
Visual Editing
 
10.0
Audio Editing
 
10.0
Narrative
 
9.0
Enjoyment
 
9.0
Duel, along with an episode in the original pilot for Night Gallery, launched Spielberg’s career. Ostensibly a TV movie, it has the feel and look of a theatrical release, specifically a roaring drive-in classic. The original length was around 70“ minutes, enough to fit the hour and a half Movie Of The Week slot. Later, it was padded out to 90“ with mostly needless scenes. Fan-editor maniac51 shaved this to 47“. Next to no dialogue, all subplots and unnecessary characters jettisoned. The result is a hard driving bullet.

Video - The original was shot for television. This has been cropped for 16X9 and looks terrific. Shot almost exclusively in desert scrub lands, the film always had a washed out, dusty look (as opposed to the vivid Technicolor used for The Invaders series). Editing consistently fine.

Audio - Two channel stereo, which was an improvement over the original mono. Dialogue, which is almost completely Weaver‘s character mumbling to himself, is easily understood. Little in the way of music score, aside from talk radio and radio static. Like Bullitt, the growl of engines is ample soundtrack.

Narrative - Quite cohesive and satisfying for a one-trick show. Neither the wife stuff nor the diner scenes, ever added to the story or made the character sympathetic (I’ll get to that). This edit boils down to a runt red car irritating, then provoking a rusty behemoth.

Enjoyment - Oh, God, yes! I caught the original when it originally aired and it was leaner and superior to the padded, extended version. This, even shorter than the original, is the best of all.

After this first aired, friends and I used to discuss this film at school. We loved that battered Peterbilt, belching exhaust, sporting license plates like trophies (though most semis had lots of plates back then). The scene where two beasts, the Peterbilt and the freight train, swap horn blasts was a capper.

Weaver’s character, Mann, was a wuss in our eyes. C’mon, he drove a Plymouth Valiant, for pete’s sake, the same car my grandmother drove. A Valiant was just barely better than a Corvair. Could It go 80 or 100 mph? No! It would have rattled to pieces long before. It was a cheap, crappy, economy car. No muscle, and no air-conditioning.

Even worse, Mann was a godawful driver. Forever rubber-necking instead of using his mirrors, sliding into curves instead of downshifting, never accelerating midway through the curves. He could barely control that punk car most of the time, and we all wondered if he was that way with family, friends, his job. Careful viewers will note scratches on his car BEFORE bush swipes and wrecks. Even in the suburbs, Mann was a lousy, probably distracted, driver. Weaver was great in this role, by the way.

Recommendation? Definitely - definitely - check this out.

Note to maniac51: Please make a smaller filesize version! 7.5 GB is WAY TOO BIG for this edit. Interested viewers might well dismiss it out of hand because they don’t want to download something this huge. Please, think about bandwidth restrictions. Thank you.

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SEPTEMBER 2015 - maniac51 has since rendered a smaller filesize of this fun edit. This is much easier on the bandwidth and fence-sitters are well advised to hunt this down.

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September 17, 2015
Update - maniac51 has since rendered this into a smaller, more "friendly" filesize.
Curious fence-sitters, by all means go for this.
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