Hollywood Stunt Drivers and Action Directors
Hollywood Stunt Drivers and Action Directors have been putting emotion into America’s hot-rods for years.
One of our all time faves illustrates this perfectly – Duel. Often overlooked, Stephen Spielberg’s directorial debut film was an intense ride, start to finish. All with just one lead actor, Richard Weaver.
(If you haven’t seen Duel – it’s about a terrified motorist that is stalked on a remote desert road by a menacing tanker truck.)
Spielberg chose the hero car, a red 1971 Plymouth Valiant, to stand out in the wide shots of the desert highway. The vehicle also personified the polite-until-pushed, middle class American.
The antagonist vehicle steals the show. Spielberg selected a 1955 Peterbilt 281 because of the elongated hood, the split windshield and round headlights. These features gave it more of a “face”, adding to the menacing personality. It worked for Spielberg and also for John Lasseter in Disney / Pixar’s Cars. The character Mater, voice by Larry the Cable Guy, bears a striking resemblance to Duel’s Peterbilt.
The majority of the film takes place on a remote desert highway as the truck swerves, brakes, and speeds in attempt to crash the Plymouth and Richard Weaver. It’s friggin awesome. Spielberg and stunt drivers Cary Loftin, Carol Daniels and Dale Van Sickel’s make the viewing experience more intense than what the NASCAR Track Pack can deliver today. Their moves, angles, and close-ups make you feel like you are hanging on to the bumper for dear life!
This 1971 film stands the test of time because the vehicles capture basic, raw human emotion. The film was masterfully executed. OK, so we’re biased 😉
If you have not seen this old-school film, do yourself a favor and rent it this weekend. And don’t take the back roads next time you drive to Vegas!