Say what you will about Hollywood heavy hitter Steven Spielberg, but the man knows how to film iconic imagery. The man created the concept of the Summer Blockbuster with his 1975 smash hit “Jaws” which earned more than $470 million, making it the highest-grossing film of all time at that point. It was eclipsed by the George Lucas space opera “Star Wars” just two years later. The two maverick directors teamed up in 1981 to create another top-grossing summer blockbuster with “Raiders Of the Lost Ark”
As for his early career, not many people know about Spielberg’s full-length movie directorial debut, a highway thriller about a man who is terrorized by a psychotic truck driver through the dusty desert highways of California. “Duel” was written by Richard Matheson, whose short stories have been made into many successful films over the years, including “I Am Legend,” “The Legend of Hell House,” “The Thing,” and “The Box.”
“Duel” hit TV airwaves in 1971 to critical success, which assured the young film school grad more projects with better budgets. The movie had a simple premise with good pacing and a well-developed sense of paranoia, as the protagonist David Mann was never able to see the trucker’s face in order to identify him to authorities.