By on March 31, 2015

DuelBecause the power of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™ is so extreme, the Alamo Drafthouse Theater in Denver has fallen under my spell and allowed me to select and introduce four car films, to be shown each Monday during their “Alamo Takes the Wheel” month of April (actually, it was the endorsement of Repo Man director Alex Cox, who teaches at the University of Colorado, that convinced the Alamo management that this idea wasn’t completely stupid). The first of those films is the amazing Duel, an all-time-great Malaise Era car movie that shouldn’t need any introduction for TTAC readers.
duel4In fact, my original plan for these Monday car movies involved having four triple features, including such must-see car films as The Junkman and Blue Collar, but the Alamo management just gave me the same funny look that people give me when I talk about putting an LZ9 engine into a Cadillac Cimarron. Anyway, so they picked four films from my twelve-film list, and they’ll be showing one on each Monday in April. Duel shows on April 6 at 7:30 PM, and moviegoers are strongly encouraged to bring their coolest, weirdest, and/or hooptiest vehicles to show off in the theater parking lot beforehand.


ep51-duel2Once Duel (which even I have never seen on the big screen) is done, we’ll have three more Monday movies selected and introduced by yours truly. These are:
Monday, April 13 at 7:30 PM: The Car
Monday, April 20 at 7:30 PM: Up In Smoke (Yes, this is actually one of the greatest car movies of all time, and you wastoids even get to see it on 4/20).
Monday, April 27 at 7:30 PM: Two-Lane Blacktop

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20 Comments on “Finally, See Spielberg’s “Duel” on the Big Screen (If You Can Get to Denver Monday)...”


  • avatar
    Scout_Number_4

    You can’t beat me on the grade. You can’t beat me on the grade!

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Duel really is one of the greatest movies ever. And, I’m partial to stories which take place in one day’s time.

    Spielberg used sound effects from Duel in Jaws, saying it was “my way of thanking Duel for giving me a career.” He is a genius.

    Great choice, Murilee!

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    If the devil drove an 18 wheeler, that’s what it would look like. Great movie.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Two Lane Black top is good. “The Car” is a lame duck IMO. Get rid of that and insert Crazy Larry, Dirty Mary.

    “Wonder if this guys a sailor?”

  • avatar
    MrGrieves

    I saw “The Car” when I was a little kid. It scared the holy h-ll out of me. Thanks, HBO!

  • avatar

    Ok, well, I’m officially sorry not to be in Denver (land of my maternal ancestors) right now. I don’t think I’ve even heard of any of these, but I’d be at that theater every Monday night if I were there. Love that (1970?) Valiant.

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    My experience so far with TV favorites from my youth is that it’s best to enjoy the fond memory and not revisit the work. The switch to digital broadcasting has resulted in an explosion of channels re-broadcasting old television series. Every one of them that I’ve sampled has left me sadly contemplating how easily entertained I was. I fear that seeing Duel again would only tarnish my memory of watching the first time, and excitedly discussing it the next day with my friends.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      ABC Tuesday Movie-of-the-Week! I remember “That Certain Summer” too, where the kid’s dad leaves his marriage for a gay relationship. Huge controversy back then.

      Ah childhood memories….

      “Duel” was brilliant – Spielberg’s early work of taunting you by the imagined. Similar to “Jaws”, although there he left more to the imagination because the mechanical shark wouldn’t work right.

      40 years later and I still get chills on Martha’s Vineyard…

      CGI has certainly raised the bar in expectation but lowered it in craftsmanship.

  • avatar

    A truly spectacular event and I am jealous I don’t live there anymore.

    But as a small consolation prize, tonight the Midtown Arts Cinema in Atlanta will be showing American Graffiti, which my wife has never seen at all, much less on the big screen.

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    I found Duel while flipping through the “weird channels” late on a Friday night. I had no idea what it was and thought it was just another stupid ’70s B-movie at first. But half an hour later (no commercials) I was still glued to the set. That’s a “good movie” in my book.

  • avatar
    honda_lawn_art

    Guess I know what I’m doing the next four Monday’s. At the hooptie car show we can see how many hooptie rides it takes to get to $20,000. I’m hoping all of them.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    I own a copy of “Duel” on DVD. I watched it about a year ago and thought it held up quite nicely. Just remember that it was shot for television with all that implies, for better and for worse, including a 4:3 aspect ratio. Here’s another thumbs up for (the original) “Two Lane Blacktop.”

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I don’t know if I’d call “Duel” a “malaise era” movie – ’71 is a bit too early for that. But it’s real, real, real good s**t.

    And I have no idea how “The Road Warrior,” “Vanishing Point” or “American Graffiti” didn’t make the cut…but I’d show up for “Duel.”

  • avatar
    Mjolnir427

    Gonna miss “Duel”, but I should be there for Two Lane. James Taylor’s greatest role?

  • avatar
    gottacook

    Duel was a theatrical release in Europe in the early 1970s (and in the U.S. in the early 1980s). The following is from the Turner Classic Movies site:

    “It was the industry practice in the 1970s that movies for television ran in a 90-minute time slot. This meant that, minus commercials, the actual running time of Duel was 74 minutes. Universal routinely had their directors shoot extra footage for theatrical release overseas, so the footage that went unaired in the United States brought the running time of Duel to an acceptable 88 minutes. While it was not out of the ordinary to release some TV movies theatrically in foreign markets, the European reception to Duel proved to be extraordinary. Already a highly visual film, the foreign release cut out much of the protagonist’s voiceover narrative, resulting in an even more visceral experience. The movie won the Grand Prix Award at the Festival de Cinema Fantastique in February, 1973, and Spielberg won top director honors at the Taormina Film Festival in Rome in July of that year. Critics fell over themselves comparing the film to the work of Alfred Hitchcock, and in analyzing the picture as allegory, both humanistic and political. As Brode noted, ‘After the screening in Rome, four highly politicized critics stormed out of the press conference when Spielberg refused to bow to their insistence that the only way to understand Duel was as a Communist-inspired portrait of the blue-collar class (the man in the truck) striking back against the white-collar class (the man in the car) that had oppressed them.’ ”

    I don’t know whether the U.S. 1983 release was the same as either of these versions. The only time I saw it other than on TV was at my college’s student center film series in the mid-1970s, and that was most likely a print of the 74-minute TV version, because it was paired with an extraordinarily long film as a double feature: Patton.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Too bad I’m so far away…..

    I only ever saw it on the Telly .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    Augh, I drove past that spot last Sunday and I normally work all day Monday. I’ll see if I can swap days for Duel – and maybe I can bring the box to the show.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Shoulda been a Peterbilt 352 cabover.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I will be in town monday, may have to check this out. I live way out in the burbs. So getting downtown, which is where I assumed this theater is dank prove to be tough.

    I have two lane blacktop on tape and would love to get it on DVD. perhaps a good discussion board would be what are the top 10 or 20? Must have movies every gear head should own.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    I remember me and my dad watching “Duel” the first time it was shown. Dennis Weaver’s whiny voice made him perfect for the part. I saw a tractor like the one in the movie for sale in AZ once for $1000 in 1979 or so, and I tried to convince my friend, who had a commercial license, to go halves on it with me and buy it. It had that same grungy patina on it, and driving it around Vegas would have been hilarious. Everyone I knew had seen Duel and would have loved it.


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