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I remember when this little, low budget film (by some young novice director named Spielberg) made its debut on network tv and got huge ratings.  Its a "tv movie" but  it got wide acclaim and has become a minor cult classic.  And as for that novice director.....

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TV fare. okay by me. better, tcm, much better. very good. :)

 

There is another film called "Death Car on The Freeway" (1979) directed by Hal Needham and it has a plot similar to "Duel" in which an unseen driver is dubbed "The Freeway Fiddler"  who goes after women drivers. Road rage? :wacko: 

 

 

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A classic thriller from a great script by Richard Matheson and effective performance by Dennis Weaver. Spielberg's imaginative direction made it more than just an average tv movie of the week.

Script? Dialogue consisted mostly of Dennis Weaver yelling at the truck.

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I have this copied from some years back on an old VHS tape somewhere.  Was thinking last night as I was watching it that I should search for a DVD.

 

Remember this fondly when it first aired, that it did cause quite a sensation.  WEAVER, fresh off his success of the McCloud TV series, and a slight return to the big screen in the not-so great "thriller" WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH HELEN?  was still somewhat a favorite of many "boomers" who grew up seeing him as CHESTER in the old GUNSMOKE TV show, and to some younger people who grew up watching GENTLE BEN. 

 

Of course, nobody at the time gave WHO directed it a second thought.  Not until many years later would the association be made by many.  I mean, NObody went to see "JAWS" because---"The guy who directed DUEL directed THIS one, too!"  OR because he also directed the NIGHT GALLERY episode in which Joan Crawford played a blind rich woman who gets her sight back just long enough for her to crash through her penthouse window and fall to her death.

 

But everyone, it seemed, thought DUEL was such a cool movie that it WAS an "instant" cult classic.  I would often, I fondly thought last night, mockingly rib my now late brother, who was a truck driver, that HE probably rooted for the TRUCK to come out on top at the end.  He'd just snicker and reply....."Me?  I ALWAYS root for CHESTER!"  I even was able to bring a couple of nephews into "the fold", who weren't even BORN yet when this movie hit the TV screens to love this movie.  THEY thought it was "cool"!  So, it's appeal is still ongoing.  Proving that a good story is a good story REGARDLESS of it's age.

 

 

Sepiatone

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TCM has run it several times, but I haven't seen it scheduled lately, so I suspect that their contract for it has expired. Seems to me that I saw it running on one  the Encore movie channels not so long ago so that network may have a lock on it.

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I have this copied from some years back on an old VHS tape somewhere.  Was thinking last night as I was watching it that I should search for a DVD.

 

Remember this fondly when it first aired, that it did cause quite a sensation.  WEAVER, fresh off his success of the McCloud TV series, and a slight return to the big screen in the not-so great "thriller" WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH HELEN?  was still somewhat a favorite of many "boomers" who grew up seeing him as CHESTER in the old GUNSMOKE TV show, and to some younger people who grew up watching GENTLE BEN. 

 

Of course, nobody at the time gave WHO directed it a second thought.  Not until many years later would the association be made by many.  I mean, NObody went to see "JAWS" because---"The guy who directed DUEL directed THIS one, too!"  OR because he also directed the NIGHT GALLERY episode in which Joan Crawford played a blind rich woman who gets her sight back just long enough for her to crash through her penthouse window and fall to her death.

 

But everyone, it seemed, thought DUEL was such a cool movie that it WAS an "instant" cult classic.  I would often, I fondly thought last night, mockingly rib my now late brother, who was a truck driver, that HE probably rooted for the TRUCK to come out on top at the end.  He'd just snicker and reply....."Me?  I ALWAYS root for CHESTER!"  I even was able to bring a couple of nephews into "the fold", who weren't even BORN yet when this movie hit the TV screens to love this movie.  THEY thought it was "cool"!  So, it's appeal is still ongoing.  Proving that a good story is a good story REGARDLESS of it's age.

 

 

Sepiatone

 

Duel is like a lot of horror films.   Yea, we want to root for Chester.   Are hearts are with Chester especially at the start.  But as the movie goes on and Chester makes one mistake after another we just want Chester to get what is coming to him.  

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It's one of only three Spielberg films that I like, along with CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND and JAWS.  It was given a rather beautiful-looking DVD release quite a few years back.  Of course that was till in the standard def days.  Haven't watched it on an HD monitor to see if it holds up.

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I have the recent DVD release of DUEL. There is a separate commentary by Mr Spielberg himself.  At the end of the film when the truck (with the driver still in the truck? maybe?)  goes over the cliff there is that eerie "groaning" sound that I guess is supposed to be a death groan of sorts. Anyway Spielberg used the same sound track for the death of "Jaws"  as his little tribute to the earlier film that did so much to boost his career.  I always shed a tear for the brave little Valiant that sacrificed itself after battling so hard. For a MoPar fan like me the Valiant is the star of the picture.

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This is a grear script and classic Matheson tale- terror out of an ordinary situation. The scene in the diner when Weaver ( who is excellent as the every man hero trapped in a nightmare) is trying to figure out who the identety of the truck driver is a classic study in psychological terror.   Now can TCM please show "Killdozer"- actually lets do an entire spolight series on these made for tv- thrillers.

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'Killdozer' is one of the worst made-for-tv movies ever.

 

I'm all for TCM running some made-for-tv "telefilms" - there were many good ones. But 'Killdozer'? Yikes.

"Killdozer" the worst?  I'll take your word for it....I didn't see it. 

 

I thought "Go tell Alice" was dumb enough.  AND that one I THINK was called, "Look What's Hapened To Rosemary's Baby".  Stephan McHattie, who did a brilliant job as James Dean in another TV flick was wasted fodder in this turkey! 

 

Sepiatone

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AND that one I THINK was called, "Look What's Hapened To Rosemary's Baby".  Stephan McHattie, who did a brilliant job as James Dean in another TV flick was wasted fodder in this turkey! 

 

Yep. Not a good movie. A real disappointment, considering its title.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've never seen KILLDOZER.  Should TCM ever air it I will gladly watch.  I can't imagine KILLDOZER would be anywhere near the worst Tv movie ever made, darkblue. 

 

     To date, the worst Tv movie I've seen that was made between 1964-89 was 1977's "NOWHERE TO HIDE" starring Tony Musante and Lee Van Cleef.  Everything about it is, for lack of a better word, 'off'.  It's pretty dire.  It's hard for me to describe why it's so rank, but it is. 

 

   Another unfortunately bad Tv movie:  1974 remake of "Brief Encounter".  Starring Sophia Loren and Richard Burton.  I didn't find it to be unwatchable, but it's not good.  The subplot involving the battered housewife is just not interesting.  Those scenes brings what little life there is in the movie to a halt. 

 

     I do hope that TCM can find a way to get hold of the 1971 TV movie "BLACK NOON".  It's too much fun to stay buried in a vault somewhere!  Same for "CROWHAVEN FARM" (1970-Tvm).   And the thing is:  Many TVM's from the '60s and '70s were made for 90-minute time slots so they're short enough to not wear out their welcome.  ► I bet some of y'all would rather watch two 75-minute Tvm's than sit through DOCTOR ZHIVAGO or BEN-HUR again. 

 

     Steven Spielberg made another TVM right after 'DUEL':  1972's "Something Evil".  Starring Darren McGavin, Sandy Dennis and a glowing red orb!  If you watch this movie you will learn to ♥ the orb!  :D         

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The best Movies-Made-For-Television were the westerns of the 80's and 90's and early 2000's.  Loved Sam Elliott and Tom Selleck in them as well as other stars.  "Purgatory" (1999) was one without those two that I really liked quite a lot.  "Riders of the Purple Sage" was also very good as well.

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Hmm. TV movie.

 

I don't know enough about the made-for-TV process. Does it begin as film? (Probably a stupid question.) The reason I ask is because I vaguely recall seeing this at our local drive-in movie theater back in the late 70s early 80s, back when we had a local drive-in movie theater. It's just a big field on the edge of town, now, with the remnants of a concession stand in the middle of it.

 

 

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There are times when a made-for-television movie was released to theaters, even if ever-so-briefly.  I've only seen 'DUEL' on Tv or on my MCA videocassette, but I've read it played in theaters which I'm assuming meant 'Drive-In' theaters, too. 

 

     There were definitely U.S. made-for-Tv movies that played theatrically overseas.

 

     There were also a number (probably a small number) of movies made for television but which ended up playing theatrically instead.  These 4 movies I've read were originally meant to be aired as "TV Movies", but ended up in theaters:  THE KILLERS (1964) Rejected for television as too violent / WARNING SHOT (1967) / THE COCKEYED COWBOYS OF CALICO COUNTY (1970) and NEWMAN'S LAW (1974). 

    

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One should bear in mind that movies made-for-tv are (or should be) a separate category from movies made-for-cable.

 

Movies made-for-tv are what was produced for the networks beginning in 1964, seeing its heyday through the 70's and tailing off toward the middle through the end of the 80's. The content of these productions was constricted by the standards and practices required by television ota broadcasting regulations. Kind of the 'Breen era' of tv movies.

 

With cable, and the accompanying ability to access premium channels that also began to conscript movies for their own programming needs, there was much greater freedom of content - violence, sex, nudity, swearing.

 

Although these movies were still being called "made-for-tv", they were very much a different animal than what the networks were allowed to broadcast. It's really the reason that there are no more movies made for tv anymore - at least not created by ABC, CBS or NBC (as it was in the first 20 years). Standards and practice content simply cannot compete - for single stand-alone movies - with what cable is allowed to present.

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