David Mann (Dennis Weaver) is trying to drive his car across California. When he tries to pass a gas tanker, the driver somehow takes offence. At first the unseen driver just annoys David by continually passing him and slowing down. Then he starts playing mind games with David, tempting him to pass the tanker, only to prevent him when he tries. The story is seen from David's point of view, with commentary as he thinks to himself.
Duel was Steven Spielberg's first film (after helming a segment of TV Night Gallery and a few other smaller things) - though admittedly it was originally done as a TV film. And it shows his skill very early on. The script is not up to much and the central idea is fairly limited but the way Spielberg uses his camera to achieve a sense of menace is exceptionally good. Technically (if not aesthetically) a very impressive film.
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