Duel

Question: When the character was at the cafe and the truck was there, but he didn't know who the driver was, why didn't he just go and wait by the truck, smash the windshield, fill the gas tank with sugar or water, slash the tyres?

Answer: At that point in the film, the protagonist David Mann is ready to confront the truck driver. When he sees the old Peterbilt truck outside, David mistakenly assumes the truck driver has already entered the diner, so he confronts a likely suspect that he sees at the counter (but he has misidentified the man). The misidentified man takes offense and punches David out. By the time he recovers his senses, David sees the old Peterbilt truck leaving the parking lot. Which means the actual homicidal truck driver never entered the diner in the first place and was waiting outside the whole time. If David had first gone outside to the Peterbilt, there was a good chance the waiting homicidal truck driver would have killed him right there, and the story would have abruptly ended. So, David's misidentification of the truck driver allowed the film to move ahead into its next act.

Charles Austin Miller

Yes, I get why the filmmakers did that, but I still think it is a plot hole. If the Dennis Weaver character was afraid of getting killed by the truck driver, I doubt he would have confronted him in the cafe.

Answer: It's never explained why but, judging from the numerous license plates from other vehicles attached to his truck, the truck driver is a serial killer and was just targeting people at random and decided to make David his next target.

Question: Where was David Mann actually going? And where from? As in, which states? He seemed to be travelling for hours even before he met the truck and seemed to have a long way to go yet.

The_Iceman

Chosen answer: The movie opens with him in downtown Los Angeles, California, so he's probably from there or somewhere in Southern California. He's heading to Bakersfield, California, which is north, about 2 hours away. In the short story, he's heading to a client in San Francisco. However, in the film he gets off the main freeway running from LA to Bakersfield (IH-5) and takes Highway 14 towards Canyon Country.

Bishop73

Question: Why didn't David simply turn around and go back home? The truck never turned around to get him, it just waited further ahead up the road. David even stated he'd never make his meeting now due to delays. Huge plot hole.

Answer: As the title indicated this became a "duel." Once challenged, David got pulled into a fight mentality with the crazed truck driver to where his "road rage" pushed aside all logic and sense of safety. David became obsessed with defeating the "Goliath" opponent. Also, if he turned around and went home, that would have ended the movie.

raywest Premium member

Answer: Not only that but, the truck driver was a psycho who wanted to kill David, so he would have likely turned around and kept following him.

Maybe-but if David had not taken his roughly one hour nap and turned around right then he would have had a huge head start on the truck, and it is doubtful the truck would have caught up with him. Still, a great movie.

Question: I know it's never answered in the film but is it explained in the book just why the truck driver takes such a dislike to David Mann - he behaves this way after just a couple of overtakes?

The_Iceman

Chosen answer: That is never answered for the film, and not knowing adds to the mystery and intrigue. No mentally stable person would target someone just because they overtook their vehicle on the road. It appears that Mann happened to cross paths with a psychopath. Steven Spielberg has commented that the multiple out-of-state license plates attached to the truck's front bumper may be "trophies" that indicate that the trucker is a serial killer who has run down other drivers. This could be a deadly game to the truck driver.

raywest Premium member

I just wonder why the driver door on the big rig was open while it took a dive over the mountain.

Perhaps a hint that the truck driver escaped. You notice that the truck doesn't explode on impact, although the studio insisted it must; Spielberg fought the studio over the inclusion of a cliched fiery finale, as he wanted the crash to convey an ambiguous ending, suggesting that the driver might not have died. Spielberg even explained that the red liquid seen in the truck cab was not blood, but was some sort of automotive fluid. This all lent to the mystery of what actually happened to the driver, whose body we never see.

Charles Austin Miller

I heard the stuntman driving the truck had to jump out of the truck right before the truck went over the edge of the mountain. The door was open on the truck.

Answer: The film could've ended with the truck driver, who jumps out the cab before it goes over the cliff looking over at David Mann celebrating.

Duel mistake picture

Visible crew/equipment: When David's car gets stuck on the bus bumper, the next shot is of the bus' black bumper and the side of the car. At the top of the black bumper there are two people seen in the reflection. The person on the left turns and takes a step to the right.

More mistakes in Duel

David Mann: That truck driver's crazy, he's been trying to kill me, I mean it.
Bus Driver: Well, mister, if I was to vote on who's crazy around here, it'd be you.

More quotes from Duel

Trivia: This film garnered so much critical praise that it was theatrically released in quite a few countries, though it was originally a made-for-TV-movie for NBC in 1972.

More trivia for Duel

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