Duel was one of Stephen Spielberg's first films, and it was an incredible start to what would would become an amazing filmmaking career. The movie was released November 11th, 1971, which is 43 years ago today. As a tribute to the intense car and truck chase movie, I've put together a list of 10 fun facts that you might not know.
- There is a scene where the truck drives off a cliff, and there was a contraption built to keep the truck traveling in a straight line without a driver to make that scene happen. That contraption failed, and instead of stopping, the driver, who had something important to attend the next day, stayed in the driver's seat and jumped out at the very last second before the truck went over. He did this so he didn't have to reshoot the next day so he could attend whatever engagement he had planned.
- During the long chase, there was a parked sedan that resembled a squad car. This briefly raised Dennis Weaver's hopes. It turned out to be a service car for a pest exterminator named Grebleips, which is "Spielberg" spelled in reverse.
- The truck driver was played by Carey Loftin, and when he asked Spielberg what his motivation was for tormenting Weaver, Spielberg said to him, "You're a dirty, rotten, no-good son of a bitch." Loftin replied, "Kid, you hired the right man."
- The author of the short story that the film is based on, Richard Matheson, was inspired to write it after an encounter with a tailgating truck driver on November 22, 1963, which is the day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
- Spielberg was shown seven different semi-trucks to choose from for the movie, and he ended up choosing a Peterbilt because the cab resembled a face.
- At one point in the film the director makes an unintentional cameo. He can be seen reflected in the telephone booth during the scene where the character David Mann is calling the police. Spielberg admitted on his appearance on Inside the Actors Studio that this was a mistake. He went on to say that there were 18 different occurrences where Spielberg could be seen because of the change in aspect ratio for theatrical release.
- The film was shot in twelve days, and it remains Spielberg's personal benchmark for how quickly he can shoot a film.
- Spielberg wanted the main car in the film to be red so it that would stand out in the wide shots of the desert highways. He ended up using a 1970 red Plymouth Valiant with the California license plate 149 PCE.
- Parker Brothers actually adapted the film in a board game. Apparently it didn't sell well, and copies have become scarce.
- There are seventeen notches on the headlights of the truck. That could mean that the driver was keeping track of how man people he killed with his truck.
I included the trailer for the film below. And to check out a cool piece of fan art, click here.