Today: May 27, 2024

It’s not often that we see the actual moment when a film-maker makes the transition from jobbing-director to legend, but, in Duel we’re given the chance to see exactly that.

It began in 1971 when Steven Spielberg’s secretary, Nona Tyson, handed him a copy of Playboy saying “I think this is right up your alley”. She was referring to Duel, a short story featured in the magazine, written by Richard Matheson (I am Legend, The Legend of Hell House, The Incredible Shrinking Man, A Stir Of Echoes). 

Spielberg agreed and a TV movie was slated, with the studio taking the unusual decision to film extra scenes for theatrical release–cementing Spielberg’s reputation and catapulting him into the larger world of movie-making.

The extended cut added 16 minutes of footage and created one of the most uniquely terrifying ‘characters’ in film history: a 40-ton, 1955 Peterbilt 281 truck, which displays more genuine menace in 90 minutes than most flesh-and-blood slasher-villains do in a couple of hours. 

Dennis Weaver stars as a travelling-salesman engaged in a terrifying game of cat-and-mouse with a truck-driver who has seemingly murderous intentions. Stunt co-ordinator, Carey Loftin, who designed the legendary car chase sequences in Vanishing Point, Bullitt and The French Connection drove the truck.

The result is a tour de force drama with hints of the preternatural seeping through the cracks. It’s hard not to believe that there’s something not quite ‘natural’ about the truck and its driver…

Fabulous Films’ new release marks Duel’s 50th Anniversary with all new artwork by Graham Humphreys (“England’s greatest living horror film artist” – Proud Galleries) plus a fold-out double-sided Graham Humphreys Artwork Poster.

A Conversation with Director Steven Spielberg.
Steven Spielberg and the small screen.
Richard Matheson: Writing of Duel.
Photograph and Poster Gallery.
All new Graham Humphrey’s sleeve design, fold-out double-sided Graham Humphreys Artwork Poster.

Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email:

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